Performance Tuesday, October 14, 2014 | 8 PM

Emerson String Quartet
Yefim Bronfman

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
String music by two of England’s greatest composers and works by two German masters make for a thrilling evening of chamber music. Purcell’s great Chaconne is featured in Britten’s inventive arrangement for strings, while Britten’s String Quartet No. 2 pays tribute to Purcell’s Chaconne in his quartet’s powerful finale. Beethoven dubbed his F-Minor Quartet “Quartetto serioso,” thanks to its intensity and drive. Schumann’s Piano Quintet is an exuberant and inventive work from its opening movement to its thrilling closing double fugue.


  • Emerson String Quartet
    ·· Eugene Drucker, Violin
    ·· Philip Setzer, Violin
    ·· Lawrence Dutton, Viola
    ·· Paul Watkins, Cello
  • Yefim Bronfman, Piano


  • BEETHOVEN String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95, "Serioso"
  • PURCELL Chaconne in G Minor (arr. Britten)
  • BRITTEN String Quartet No. 2 in C Major
  • SCHUMANN Piano Quintet in E-flat Major

  • Encore:
  • BRAHMS JOHANNES BRAHMS Andante, un poco adagio, from Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two and one-half hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Emerson String Quartet

    The Emerson String Quartet has an unparalleled list of achievements over the past three decades, including more than 30 acclaimed recordings, nine Grammy Awards (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize, Musical America's Ensemble of the Year, and collaborations with many of the greatest artists of our time.

    The arrival of Paul Watkins in 2013 has had a profound effect on the Emerson String Quartet. A distinguished soloist, award-winning conductor, and devoted chamber musician, Mr. Watkins joined the ensemble in its 37th season, and his dedication and enthusiasm have infused the quartet with a warm, rich tone and a palpable joy in the collaborative process. The reconfigured group has been greeted with impressive accolades.

    The quartet's summer season began with engagements in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and a pair of concerts in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Following a tour of Japan, the quartet performed at the Ravinia, Tanglewood, Chamber Music Northwest, Aspen, Domaine Forget, Toronto, Austin, Norfolk, Cape Cod, and Mostly Mozart festivals. In the 2014-2015 season, in addition to the members' individual commitments, the quartet performs more than 80 concerts on both the East and West coasts and throughout North America. In October, Mr. Watkins performs with the Emerson String Quartet for the first time at Carnegie Hall. In Europe, the quartet performs in Austria, Ireland, Switzerland, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. It continues its series at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, for its 35th season, and in May 2015, it will be presented by colleagues David Finckel and Wu Han at Alice Tully Hall for the two final season concerts with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Guest artists Colin Carr and Paul Neubauer join the quartet in a program that includes the New York premiere of Lowell Liebermann's String Quartet No. 5, commissioned by a consortium of presenters through Music Accord.

    As an exclusive artist for Sony Classical, the Emerson String Quartet recently released Journeys, its second CD on that label, featuring Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence and Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht. Future recordings are planned with Mr. Watkins.

    Formed in 1976 and based in New York City, the Emerson String Quartet was one of the first quartets formed with two violinists that alternate in the first chair position. In 2002, the quartet began to stand for most of its concerts, with the cellist seated on a riser. The quartet took its name from American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, and is quartet-in-residence at Stony Brook University. In January 2015, the quartet will receive the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, Chamber Music America's highest honor, in recognition of its significant and lasting contribution to the chamber music field.

    More Info

  • Yefim Bronfman

    Yefim Bronfman is widely regarded as one of the most virtuosic performing pianists today. His commanding technique and exceptional lyrical gifts have won him critical acclaim and enthusiastic audiences worldwide, whether for his solo recitals, orchestral engagements, or growing catalogue of recordings.

    Mr. Bronfman's 2014-2015 season begins with engagements at the Tanglewood, Aspen, Vail, La Jolla, and Santa Fe music festivals, and includes performances with the symphonies of Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco, Dallas, Seattle, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh, as well as the New World Symphony, The MET Orchestra, the Berliner Philharmoniker, and the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics. Performances of Magnus Lindberg's Concerto No. 2  are scheduled with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic. With The Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst, Mr. Bronfman plays and records both Brahms concertos, repertoire he also performs at Milan's La Scala with Valery Gergiev.

    Other upcoming engagements include recitals and orchestral concerts in Japan with London's Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen, as well as performances in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing, Sydney, and Melbourne. In the spring, he joins Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lynn Harrell for their first US tour together.

    Mr. Bronfman was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 1991 and the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance from Northwestern University in 2010. He was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2009 for his Deutsche Grammophon recording of Esa-Pekka Salonen's Piano Concerto, and he won a Grammy in 1997 for his recording with Mr. Salonen of the three Bartók concertos with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He was nominated for a 2014 Grammy with the New York Philharmonic for their recording of Magnus Lindberg's Second Piano Concerto, commissioned for him by that orchestra in 2012.

    Born in Tashkent in the former Soviet Union, Mr. Bronfman immigrated to Israel with his family in 1973. He studied with pianist Arie Vardi, head of the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University. In the US, he studied at The Juilliard School, Marlboro, and the Curtis Institute, as well as with Rudolf Firkušný, Leon Fleisher, and Rudolf Serkin.

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Schumann's Piano Quintet in E Flat Major, Op. 44 (Allegro brillante)
Emerson String Quartet | Menahem Pressler, Piano
Deutsche Grammophon

At a Glance

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN  String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95, “Serioso”

Beethoven’s 16 string quartets constitute a towering achievement that has both inspired and intimidated composers ever since. Schumann declared that the genre had “come to a standstill” since Beethoven’s death. By the time the F-Minor Quartet was written, the callow virtuoso who had taken Vienna by storm in the 1790s had long since matured into a musical revolutionary.

HENRY PURCELL  Chaconne in G Minor (arr. Britten)

This short piece attests to Britten’s lifelong engagement with Purcell’s music, both as a composer and as a performer. He produced his arrangement in the late 1940s, shortly before the English Opera Group’s landmark production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in a modern edition prepared by Britten and Imogen Holst.

BENJAMIN BRITTEN  String Quartet No 2 in C Major, Op. 36

Not counting a student work composed in 1931 and belatedly published in the mid-1970s, Britten wrote three quartets—two in the early 1940s and the last in 1975. An homage to Purcell, the Second Quartet of 1945 followed close on the heels of Peter Grimes, the opera in which Britten aimed to “restore to the musical setting of the English language a brilliance, freedom, and vitality that have been curiously rare since the death of Purcell.”

ROBERT SCHUMANN  Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44

The ever-popular Piano Quintet in E-flat Major was a highlight of Schumann’s “chamber music year” of 1842, a hugely productive period that saw the composition of no fewer than three string quartets as well as the Op. 47 Piano Quartet. In all five pieces, Schumann distanced himself from the literary models that had inspired much of his earlier work, concentrating instead on structural clarity and the craft of composition.

Program Notes
This performance is part of Great Artists II.