Journeys, Emerson Quartet
Beethoven, String Quartets, Emerson Quartet
Mendelssohn's F minor quartet, op. 80, revealed some of this discomfort, with some intonation issues heard from Watkins, as well as from Philip Setzer on first violin in the the concert's first half. Not that the experience was bad, as Mendelssohn's first movement was stirred up as it should be, but the second movement, not as fast as one might like, did not really build on that tension. Likewise, the third movement did not quite feel Adagio enough, which robbed the music of much of its tenderness, but this is not unusual for the Emersons, whose performances often sound a little overly clinical. Certainly the fourth-movement finale was a tour de force of steely technique all around. Watkins seemed to blend into the texture more than his predecessor, although at times he disappeared a little too much.
Anne Midgette, Revised Emerson plays with fresh vitality (Washington Post, October 4)
The Emerson Quartet's regular series, sponsored by the Smithsonian Resident Associates at the National Museum of Natural History, begins on November 3 (a program that includes Britten's second quartet). Hopefully, the shutdown of the Federal government, which has shuttered the Smithsonian Museums, will be resolved by then.