Acclaim

January 23, 2023
Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 59, No. 2, one of the cornerstone works of the composer’s great “middle period” in which he also wrote the “Eroica” Symphony. The Emerson’s performance... was by turns refined, rhythmically charged, and, in the presto Finale, glorious.
Jeremy Eichler
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The Boston Globe
January 23, 2023
... there are those who’ve got their timing right and somehow manage to go out in their prime. Count the Emerson String Quartet among the latter.
Jonathan Blumhofer
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Boston Classical Review
December 10, 2022
...high praise still holds 10 years down the road. The quartet purrs like a well-maintained engine. Watkins, violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer and violist Lawrence Dutton have between them something more than rapport, and together they demonstrate an engagement with the music that reaches beyond respect. Theirs is a devotional ease — a back-of-hand familiarity that teeters on the unconscious, especially evident when in the throes of Beethoven.
Michael Brodeur
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The Washington Post
December 8, 2022
...the Emerson exemplified the American/Juilliard/Manhattan style of playing classical music: distinctive voices (not a creamy European blend), assertive interpretations, speedy tempos, edgy, analytical, “inward” playing. Some quartets are really set up to accompany the lead violinist, but with the Emerson, I always have the uncanny sense of hearing all four voices simultaneously.
David Brewster
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Post Alley
November 10, 2022
The playing throughout was remarkable: not just technically brilliant and emotionally profound, but also often admirably brave… Much of the music in all three quartets is austere and bare, exposing each player to microscopic scrutiny, requiring all — performers and listeners alike — to search their souls and face their own mortality. If there are crumbs of comfort, they lie in the sense of companionship.
Richard Morrison
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The Times UK
March 17, 2022
"At the end we all sat riveted, not daring to applaud. At that moment, the accusation that classical music is "irrelevant" seemed more absurd than ever. "
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The Telegraph, Southbank Centre Review
“The group remains one of our best chamber ensembles, not merely precise but expressive and intelligent to the last ounce.”
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OC Register
"Their revelatory account of Beethoven's Op. 131 at Lincoln Hall embraced the music's strangeness with warmth and humanity."
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The Oregonian
"For nearly 40 years, the Emerson String Quartet has commanded a certain reverence from music lovers. Its polished and authoritative performances, its comprehensive and mighty discography, its fearless embrace of the new and unusual as well as the classics — all have placed this string quartet high in the pantheon of chamber music."
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Seattle Times
“Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: The “old” Emerson String Quartet never phoned one in. But this new group — Mr. Watkins alongside the violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, and the violist Lawrence Dutton — complemented their customary power, finesse and unanimity with a fresh, palpable vigor at Tully, and it was electrifying.”
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The New York Times
"... with musicians like this there must be some hope for humanity."
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The Times (London)
"The performances were everything we have come to expect from this superb ensemble: technically resourceful, musically insightful, cohesive, full of character and always interesting."
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The New York Times
"Few string quartets have regularly displayed such individuality among members -- an ideal stance for coloring and differentiating the complex strands of the fugues."
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The Philadelphia Inquirer
"The precision and grace with which the ensemble dispatched the opening of the final movement was breathtaking, and by the adrenaline-pumping coda it was difficult to sit still."
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Andante.com
"The Emerson has staked its claim to being the one indispensable quartet in a world that is constantly creating more, excellent ensembles."
"These are high-powered performances with at times terrifying attack and explosive accenting...they are mightily impressive."
"...the Emerson played with vigor and style ...infusing the familiar music with energy and transparency."
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Houston Chronicle
"The Emerson String Quartet...has the easy virtuosity, precise sense of ensemble, rhythmic vigor and rich polished tone..."
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The Washington Post
"The Emerson performances represented an extraordinary fusion of experience and authority with audacity and freshness."
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The Boston Globe
"The Emerson is one of the most impressive of American string quartets.
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The New York Times
"I very much doubt whether Haydn ever heard his music sound like this; and if that is so, then I think it was a deprivation much to be regretted on his behalf."