Emerson String Quartet - Chaconnes and Fantasias: Music of Britten and Purcell
They officially formed their quartet in 1976, the bicentennial year of the United States. Violinist Eugene Drucker says that's why they selected a name with cultural overtones. "So it was named after Ralph Waldo Emerson," Eugene says. "We wanted to try something slightly different. Yet in choosing an American name, we did not want to name ourselves after a political figure or even a statesman of the caliber of Jefferson, even though he was a renaissance man. So instead we decided to veer off into the area of philosophy and literature, somebody who had a tremendous impact on the history of ideas throughout the 19th century."
The Emerson String Quartet have certainly lived up to their namesake. Over the past four decades, they've earned nine Grammy Awards, three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fischer Prize, Musical America's "Ensemble of the Year," four honorary doctorates, and they've collaborated with some of the greatest artists of our time. So, what's left for them to accomplish? Well, violist Lawrence Dutton says the repertoire is endless, and "Four years ago, we brought a new member into the Emerson Quartet. Paul Watkins is our new cellist. He took over from David Finckel, and I don't think the three of us thought that the rebirth would be as wonderful as it has been, and we are in a phase now of no end in sight."
On this new recording, the Emerson String Quartet explore the affinity between two of England's best-known composers, Henry Purcell and Benjamin Britten. As you listen to Britten's String Quartets, and Purcell's Chacony in G minor and Fantazias, Eugene Drucker says there are so many similarities, it's hard to believe this music spans almost three centuries.
Use the audio player above to listen to the complete program.