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Emerson Quartet, New Jalbert No. 5

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Read my review published today in the Style section of the Washington Post:

Charles T. Downey, Emerson String Quartet is pleasingly unpredictable at Smithsonian
Washington Post, May 10, 2011

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Beethoven, Complete String Quartets, Emerson Quartet

available at Amazon
The String Quartets of Beethoven, ed. W. Kinderman (includes Joseph Kerman, "Opus 131 and the Uncanny")
The trademark sound of the Emerson String Quartet is long on muscularity and precision, but sometimes short on warmth and subtlety. At their season finale in the Smithsonian Resident Associates series at the National Mu­seum of Natural History on Sunday night, the foursome was true to its strengths but also showed a surprising and pleasing unpredictability.

In the Washington premiere of American composer Pierre Jalbert’s fifth quartet, created for the Emerson and debuted in Houston last month, the sound was rarely pushed to the edge. A vocabulary of otherworldly effects — gently squealing harmonics like electronic feedback, spidery glissandi, microtonal bends, all with Eugene Drucker’s pure, sweet tone on first violin at the fore — were handled with consummate virtuosity but always at the service of the overall musical shape, inspired by the migrations of French-speaking people to and within the New World. The group attacked the anxious, machine-like scherzo (“Upheaval”) with strident accuracy but also gave an understated, lush radiance to the third-movement variations on an Acadian folk song. [Continue reading]
Emerson Quartet
Mendelssohn, Andante and Scherzo, op. 81
Pierre Jalbert, String Quartet No. 5 (2011)
Beethoven, String Quartet in C# minor, op. 131
Smithsonian Resident Associates
National Museum of Natural History

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