Infinite Voyage

September 8, 2023

After 47 years of award-winning music-making, the Emerson String Quartet will disband in October 2023 and will release their final album Infinite Voyage on September 8 with soprano, Barbara Hannigan. The album evokes the lifelong journey for the four musicians and their lasting friendship with Hannigan. Joined by 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.

About the Album


The title of this album evokes not only the life-long journey of all these musicians, but also a lasting friendship between soprano Barbara Hannigan and the Emerson String Quartet. One of the greatest string quartets of the last four decades, the Emersons will disband in October 2023. Barbara and the Emersons were determined to record Schoenberg's Quartet No. 2 since they started performing the work together in 2015. "The sheer sonic scope of this work takes us on a voyage into previously uncharted territory" say the Emerson musicians. "It's like a tall, gnarly tree to climb (all the way to another planet, it seems), yet one with deep and emotional roots", continues Barbara 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". Melancholie is a rare and intimate work by the young Hindemith, "a gem of a piece" that the Canadian soprano has wanted to explore for many years. The fascinating Quartet Op. 3, composed by Berg in 1909 as he was finishing his apprenticeship with Schoenberg, features the quartet on its own. And to round out the album, pianist Bertrand Chamayou joins Barbara and the Emersons for another deeply moving encounter by way of Chausson's heartbreaking Chanson perpétuelle.

Track Listing

1. String Quartet No. 2 in F sharp Minor, Op. 10
Arnold Shoenberg (b. 1874-1951)

2. Melancholie, Op. 13
Paul Hindemith (1895-1963)

3. Chanson perpétuelle, Op. 37
Ernest Chausson (1855-1899)

4. String Quartet, Op. 3
Alban Berg (1885-1935)

The playing [on Infinite Voyage] and at the Sunday concert proved that the Emersons are saying farewell at the height of their powers. There have been other great string quartets in the recording era, with their own special virtues. But for influence and renown, none surpassed the Emersons... Their legacy will last far into the future.
Musical America
The Emerson Quartet could hardly have chosen a more appropriate composition to encapsulate the special achievements as well as the endless challenges of their chosen medium.
..the Emerson’s close-knit delineation of the massed shards of motivic elements the music throws out in its quest for transcendence... The Emersons come to the score as if it were new, hot from the press, and in doing so they recreate the sense of inordinate extravagance that made early audiences so uneasy.
Everyone’s golden hour comes in Schoenberg’s vocally enhanced String Quartet No 2. It’s not usually considered easy listening, though the Emerson polish, Hannigan’s penetrating beam and a vibrant recording swiftly emphasise the more beguiling aspects of a work...the recording makes each pizzicato note something you feel in your stomach. They are a class act and will be missed.
The Times UK
...the Emersons give both works warm, lustrous performances... Barbara Hannigan is the soprano in the Schoenberg, her elegance and cool, precise shaping of every phrase perfectly tailored to the keenly expressive vocal lines.
The Guardian
It is an ambivalent reflection, like a Magritte painting of front and back, imbued with a sorrowful and melancholic lyricism that looks Tristanesque and that the Emersons capture to perfection; in each note, each silence and pause they give an overwhelming totality.
Miami Clasica