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Wall Street Journal / Emerson String Quartet: Courting a Fourth

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Among the world's paramount quartets, the Emerson String Quartet, formed in 1976, is a fixture of the international concert circuit. Its success, its many acclaimed recordings and its influence through teaching and master classes helped to foster a favorable climate for string quartets throughout the country. Unlike other longstanding exemplars in the U.S. quartet community, such as the Juilliard String Quartet (formed in 1946) and the Kronos Quartet (formed in 1973), both of which have already undergone multiple personnel changes, ESQ had remained constant since 1979, featuring violinists Eugene Drucker, 61, and Philip Setzer, 62; violist Lawrence Dutton, 59; and cellist David Finckel, 61. The ESQ's development as a musical ensemble, its interpretative style, its very sound, had been based on this unchanging makeup. Hence it was news of considerable significance when Mr. Finckel announced he would step down this past May to concentrate more fully on his other duties-among them, his joint artistic directorship of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center with his wife, pianist Wu Han, and of their Music@Menlo festival and institute. The news was equally significant that Mr. Finckel would be succeeded by the British cellist and conductor Paul Watkins, 43. READ THE FULL ARTICLE