For the Record, Op. 252: Emerson String Quartet Final Recording, and more

September 8, 2023, 2:10 PM · Welcome to "For the Record,"'s weekly roundup of new releases of recordings by violinists, violists, cellists and other classical musicians. We hope it helps you keep track of your favorite artists, as well as find some new ones to add to your listening!

Emerson String Quartet
The Emerson String Quartet: Paul Watkins, Lawrence Dutton, Philip Setzer and Eugene Drucker.

Infinite Voyage
Emerson String Quartet
Philip Setzer, violin
Eugene Drucker, violin
Lawrence Dutton, viola
Paul Watkins, cello
Barbara Hannigan, soprano
Bertrand Chamayou, piano

After 47 years of award-winning music-making, the Emerson String Quartet will disband in October 2023 - this is their final album, evoking the lifelong journey for the four musicians and their lasting friendship with soprano, Barbara Hannigan. Joined by pianist Bertrand Chamayou, the record features Schoenberg's Quartet No. 2 for soprano and string quartet alongside works by Hindemith, Berg, and Chausson's Chanson perpétuelle. "What unifies these stylistically disparate works is the expression of unfulfilled, perhaps unfulfillable yearning, as well as the composers’ absolute commitment to their aesthetic ideals. This has been an inspiring musical journey for all of us," said violinist Eugene Drucker. "It’s a tall, gnarly tree to climb (all the way to another planet, it seems), yet one with deep and emotional roots," said Hannigan. “The soprano’s fin-de-siècle primal scream at the end of the 3rd movement, begging to be relieved of love, is a heavy hitter." BELOW: String Quartet No. 2, Op. 10: III. Litanei. Langsam.

Liebestod: Works for Violin and Piano Brahms; Dietrich; Schumann; Wagner
Friedemann Eichhorn, violin
Fazil Say, piano'

This is some pretty sublime playing...Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say is joined by his long-standing friend, the violinist Friedemann Eichhorn, in an album of mid-19th-century German repertoire. Influenced by Liszt, Say’s ingenious transcriptions of the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde are heard here in world premiere recordings. The composite F–A–E Sonata of Dietrich, Schumann and Brahms is also recorded as a whole, while Schumann’s Violin Sonata No. 1, though written at a time of unhappiness, contains moments of glorious beauty and intimacy. BELOW: "Liebestod" from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, WWV 90, arranged for Violin & Piano by Fazil Say.

Brooklyn Rider
Kinan Azmeh, clarinet
Mathias Kunzli, percussionist
Ljova, composer

This album celebrates long-standing friendships between a circle of musicians who represent a multiplicity of musical identities: Syrian clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh, Grammy-nominated string quartet Brooklyn Rider, and multi-percussionist Mathias Kunzli. "The combination of clarinet and string quartet...allows the discourse between similar instruments (the string quartet) to be elevated by the addition of this singular voice," Jacobsen said. "One can imagine our combination of Brooklyn Rider and Kinan Azmeh as cave spelunkers, with the clarinet as a torch lighting the way. Mathias Kunzli's percussion further brings a sense of the structure of the cave, of the sound of our heartbeat as we explore and the rhythm of the planet spinning on its axis." The music has references to classical music, jazz, middle eastern music, contemporary minimalism and much more. BELOW: "Starlighter," from a live performance in May 2019.

The Poetjournalist
Aaron Dworkin, narrator

Celebrated arts activist and political advisor, 2005 MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellow and founder of the Sphinx Organization, Aaron Dworkin recites poetry a number of themes, including African-American history, arts and culture, poetry from women, mental health and wellness, and childhoood. The title, "The Poetjournalist," is a term Dworkin coined in which a news story or other experience is expressed in poetic form, incorporating elements of emotion, opinion, and creative illustration. He developed this process during his role as poetjournalist-in-residence at a variety of institutions, including the Rodham Institute, Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, Ovation TV, Complexions Contemporary Dance Company, Shar Music and the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation. BELOW: "My First Teacher":

Current, works by Samuel Carl Adams
Samuel Carl Adams, composer
Spektral Quartet
Karen Gomyo, violin
Conor Hanick, piano

This album includes three recent works by 2019 Guggenheim Fellow Samuel Carl Adams, two of which are world premiere recordings. The title work, Current, (world premiere recording), scored for string quartet and resonating snare drums, is performed by the Spektral Quartet, which co-commissioned the piece with Cal Performances; this album marks one of the group’s last projects as an ensemble. Bookending that large-scale work are Violin Diptych (world premiere recording), performed by violinist Karen Gomyo and pianist Conor Hanick, and Shade Studies, a piano solo performed by Hanick with electronics. Current is available for pre-order here.BELOW: Samuel Adams: String Quartet No. 2 "Current" - II. fast, quiet, building.

Bernstein: Music for String Quartet
Lucia Lin, violin
Natalie Rose Kress, violin
Danny Kim, viola
Ronald Feldman, cello

This is a world-premiere recording of composer Leonard Bernstein’s long-lost "Music for String Quartet," composed by an 18-year-old Bernstein during his studies at Harvard. The piece has been steadfastly shepherded from its re-discovery to this historic release by former Boston Symphony Orchestra Librarian John Perkel, and is performed here by Lucia Lin, Natalie Rose Kress, Danny Kim, and Ronald Feldman. "Movement I" and the newly-discovered "Movement II," which was found within the U.S Library of Congress, are accompanied here by the seldom-recorded duo piece "Elegies for Violin and Viola" by composer Aaron Copland, a musical mentor, collaborator, and dear friend of Bernstein’s. BELOW: Bernstein's "Music for String Quartet:: I. Allegro vivace.

You might also like:

* * *

Enjoying Click here to sign up for our free, bi-weekly email newsletter. And if you've already signed up, please invite your friends! Thank you.


September 9, 2023 at 02:50 PM · You have to wonder whether a group like the Emersons would continue to play quartets together even after they've formally disbanded and discontinued performing and recording. And what they would choose to play.

September 10, 2023 at 05:39 AM · I rather doubt it Paul. One very fine and enthusiastic quartet leader I was coached by on several occasions said she didn't enjoy playing "for fun".

September 10, 2023 at 01:45 PM · We saw them a couple of days ago; they seemed tired, without the precision, intensity, and perfect burnished sound of their previous appearance here five years ago. David Finckel and Wu Han did a fantastic show here last year, and I am hopeful that we will similarly get to see these guys in their subsequent projects.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Anne Cole Violin Maker
Anne Cole Violin Maker

Metronaut Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine