by Daniel Hathaway
On Tuesday, December 5, the Emerson String Quartet will return to the Cleveland Chamber Music Society Series for the first time since 2011. Violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, violist Lawrence Dutton, and cellist Paul Watkins will play Joseph Haydn’s Quartet Op. 20, No. 2, Benjamin Britten’s Quartet No. 2, and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 15 in a 7:30 pm concert at Plymouth Church presented in cooperation with the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Winter Chamber Music Festival.
The Emerson need no introduction to fans of chamber music. Now one of the most venerable quartets on the international circuit, the group has been active for over four decades since its founding in 1976, with only one change in personnel — cellist Paul Watkins joined the Emerson in 2013, replacing David Finckel. On a personal note, I vividly remember hosting them on the Gund Concert Series at Groton School in Massachusetts very soon after they first got together, and when their practice of alternating first and second violins was still an innovation.
The repertory for the Emersons’ December 5 performance may also need no introduction for diehard chamber music aficionados, but other listeners might appreciate knowing a bit about the music and getting some of it in their ears before Tuesday evening. [Read more…]