The storied Emerson String Quartet will give their final, sold-out concerts in October 2023. For more than four decades, the Emersons have been celebrated as one of the world’s premier chamber music ensembles. Their “performances represented an extraordinary fusion of experience and authority with audacity and freshness” (The Boston Globe) and earned them legions of admirers and countless honors.
Having announced their retirement as an ensemble in 2022, their Farewell Season saw their returns to major concert halls across the US, Europe and Asia with programs featuring some of their favorite works. The individual members – Eugene Drucker, Philip Setzer, Lawrence Dutton, and Paul Watkins – will continue to perform and teach individually. As a group, they will continue to coach and mentor young ensembles through the Emerson String Quartet Institute at Stony Brook University. Original member, cellist David Finckel, will reunite with the ensemble for the final two concerts on October 21 and 22 at New York’s Alice Tully Hall.
In addition to the concerts, The Quartet have marked their Farewell Season with a final recording: Infinite Voyage. The album evokes the lifelong journey of the four musicians and their lasting friendship with celebrated soprano Barbara Hannigan. Joined by pianist Betrand Chamayou, the recording features Schönberg’s Quartet No. 2 for soprano and string quartet alongside works by Hindemith, Berg, and Chausson’s Chanson perpétuelle. Ms Hannigan joins the Emersons for their final concerts in Paris (Foundation Louis Vuitton – 7 October) and Milan (Conervatorio Giuseppe Verdi – 10 October).
The Farewell Season is being captured for a feature-length documentary directed by Tristan Cook and produced by Birgit Gernbōck. The film is scheduled to celebrate its world premiere in 2024. In addition, Mathieu Amalric’s documentary on the Emerson’s collaboration with Barbara Hannigan will receive its world premiere at their final Paris concert on October 7.
The Emerson String Quartet has had a transcendent effect on audiences throughout its 47-year tenure. As The Times (London) writes: “with musicians like this, there must be some hope for humanity.” We at IMG Artists are ardent fans of not only their monumental gifts to music, but of each splendid individual. Eugene, Philip, Lawrence, Paul, and David are as magnificent and brilliant as people as they are musicians. It has been our great honour to be part of their story. We thank them for their eternal gifts to music and cherished memories.
The Emerson String Quartet: The Farewell Season – Final Concerts 7 – 22 October
October 7 – Paris, France – Foundation Louis Vuitton
RAVEL: String Quartet
CHAUSSON: Chanson perpétuelle
SCHÖNBERG: Quartett No. 2 for soprano and string quartet
with Barbara Hannigan, soprano
October 10 – Milan, Italy – Conservatorio G. Verdi
Schoenberg: Quartet No. 2 in F sharp minor op. 10
Beethoven: Quartet No. 13 in B flat major op. 130 (with Grand Fugue in B flat major op. 133 as finale)
with Barbara Hannigan, soprano
October 11 – Turin, Italy – Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi
Purcell-Britten: Chaconne in G minor
Ravel: Quartet in F major
Beethoven: Quartet in B flat major op. 130
October 14, 2023
October 14 – Stony Brook, NY – Staller Center
Beethoven: Quartet in B-flat major for Strings, Op. 130 with “Grosse Fuge,” Op. 133 (1825)
Schubert: Quintet in C major for Two Violins, Viola, and Two Cellos, D. 956, Op. 163 (1828)
October 15 – Cleveland, OH – Severance Music Center
Glass: Etude No. 6
Beethoven: String Quartet No. 14 in C# Minor, op. 131
with Renée Fleming, soprano; Simone Dinnerstein, piano; Merle Dandridge, narrator
October 20 – Washington, DC – The Kennedy Center
Mozart: Fugue from the Well-Tempered Clavier for String Quartet, K. 405 (E-flat major, BMV 876)
Sarah Kirkland Snider: Drink the Wild Ayre (Music Accord Commission, D.C. Premiere)
Bartók: String Quartet No. 2, Sz. 67
Beethoven: String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat major, Op. 130 with “Grosse Fuge,” Op. 133
October 21-22 – New York, NY – Alice Tully Hall – The Final Farewell
Beethoven Quartet in B-flat major for Strings, Op. 130 with “Grosse Fuge,” Op. 133 (1825)
Schubert Quintet in C major for Two Violins, Viola, and Two Cellos, D. 956, Op. 163 (1828)
with David Finckel, second cello
Photo: Jurgen Frank