Performance Sunday, May 7, 2017 | 3 PM

Emerson String Quartet
Yefim Bronfman

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
For more than 40 years, the Emerson String Quartet has held an honored place in the pantheon of great ensembles. Praised for performances that are "technically resourceful, musically insightful, cohesive, full of character, and always interesting" (The New York Times), the Emerson performs two 20th-century string quartet masterpieces by Berg and Ravel. Yefim Bronfman, “a marvel of digital dexterity, warmly romantic sentiment, and jaw-dropping bravura” (Chicago Tribune), joins the Emerson for Brahms’s dramatic and propulsive Piano Quintet.


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


  • RAVEL String Quartet in F Major
  • BERG String Quartet, Op. 3
  • BRAHMS Piano Quintet

Event Duration

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


  • Emerson String Quartet

    Eugene Drucker, Violin
    Philip Setzer, Violin
    Lawrence Dutton, Viola
    Paul Watkins, Cello

    The Emerson String Quartet has amassed an unparalleled list of achievements in four decades: more than 30 acclaimed recordings, nine Grammy Awards (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize, the title of "Ensemble of the Year" from Musical America, and countless collaborations with many of the greatest artists of our time.

    The 2016-2017 season marks the Emerson String Quartet's 40th anniversary. The highlights of this milestone year reflect all aspects of the quartet's venerable artistry with high-profile projects and collaborations, commissions, and recordings. Universal Music Group has reissued the ensemble's entire Deutsche Grammophon discography in a 52-CD boxset. After recent engagements together at the Kennedy Center and Tanglewood, illustrious soprano Renée Fleming joined the Emerson at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles to perform works by Berg and Wellesz from the singer and quartet's first collaborative recording, released by Decca in the fall of 2015. Additional highlights include a concert with clarinetist David Shifrin as part of the quartet's season-long residency at Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Oregon, as well as a collaboration with cellist Clive Greensmith at the Soka Performing Arts Center in California. The Emerson continues its series at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, for its 38th season, and the quartet members have been selected as artistic advisors for Wolf Trap's Chamber Music at The Barns in Virginia, curating the series in celebration of its 20th season. On April 21, 2017, the quartet released its latest album, Chaconnes and Fantasias: Music of Britten and Purcell--the first release on Universal Music Classics' new US classical record label, Decca Gold.

    Multiple tours to Europe include engagements in Austria, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom (including Wigmore Hall for a 40th anniversary gala); the quartet also tours to South America and Asia.

    Formed in 1976 and based in New York City, the Emerson String Quartet was one of the first quartets whose violinists alternated in the first chair position. The Emerson, which took its name from American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, is quartet-in-residence at Stony Brook University. During the spring of 2016, fulltime Stony Brook faculty members Philip Setzer and Lawrence Dutton received the honor of being named distinguished professors, and part-time faculty members Eugene Drucker and Paul Watkins were awarded the title of honorary distinguished professor. In January 2015, the quartet received 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.

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  • Yefim Bronfman

    Internationally recognized as one of today's most acclaimed and admired pianists, Yefim Bronfman stands among a handful of artists regularly sought out by festivals, orchestras, and conductors. His commanding technique, power, and exceptional lyrical gifts are consistently acknowledged by the press and audiences alike.

    Mr. Bronfman works regularly with Daniel Barenboim, Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Riccardo Chailly, Christoph von Dohnányi, Gustavo Dudamel, Charles Dutoit, Daniele Gatti, Valery Gergiev, Alan Gilbert, Mariss Jansons, Vladimir Jurowski, James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Andris Nelsons, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Franz Welser-Möst, and David Zinman. To acknowledge a relationship of more than 30 years, he opened the Israel Philharmonic's season with Zubin Mehta in October and participated in the orchestra's 80th birthday celebrations in December.

    A regular guest of some of the world's finest ensembles, Mr. Bronfman returns to the orchestras of New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis, Houston, and Dallas this season. In Europe, he tours extensively in recital and with orchestras in cities that include Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Brussels, and Leipzig. Continuing his long-standing partnership with Pinchas Zukerman, the duo appeared in Copenhagen, Milan, Naples, Barcelona, Berlin, and St. Petersburg in March. Always keen to explore the chamber-music repertoire, Mr. Bronfman has collaborated with Martha Argerich, Magdalena Kožená, Anne-Sophie Mutter, and Emmanuel Pahud among others.

    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 has been nominated for six Grammy Awards, winning in 1997 for his recording of the three Bartók piano concertos with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

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RAVEL String Quartet in F Major, Op.10 (Assez vif – très rythmé)
Emerson String Quartet

At a Glance

MAURICE RAVEL  String Quartet in F Major

This youthful masterpiece signaled Ravel’s emergence as Debussy’s peer and heir apparent. The composer’s first and only string quartet elicited largely favorable comparisons to Debussy’s celebrated String Quartet in G Minor. Recurring intervals, melodic shapes, textures, and sonorities give the four movements a powerful sense of organic unity.

ALBAN BERG  String Quartet, Op. 3

Composed in 1910 but not performed in public until 1923, Berg’s first quartet was a turning point in his career. Although he acknowledged how much he had learned from his teacher, Arnold Schoenberg, he credited his wife with being the primary inspiration for his Op. 3 String Quartet. In a letter Berg wrote to her after a performance of the work in Salzburg in 1923, he declared that it was she “to whom the quartet belongs and who brought it into being.”

JOHANNES BRAHMS  Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34

Originally conceived as a string quintet and later adapted for two pianos, Brahms’s masterpiece represents a near-perfect marriage of keyboard and strings. Only after Clara Schumann observed that the music was “so full of ideas” that a full orchestra was needed to do it justice did Brahms recast it as a piano quintet. In this form, the musicologist Sir Donald Francis Tovey wrote, “the rhythmic incisiveness of the piano is happily combined with the singing powers of the bowed instruments.”

Program Notes
This performance is part of Great Artists II.