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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 21 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Music
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #73,088 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

For their new album, Journeys, Emerson String Quartet performs two string sextets from the 1890's, Souvenir de Florence by Tchaikovsky and Verkl„rte Nacht (Transfigured Night) by Arnold Schoenberg. This is the quartet's first recording of anything by Tchaikovsky since the 1980's and its first ever recording of a piece by Schoenberg. They are joined on both of these sextets by two frequent collaborators, American violinist, Paul Neubauer and British cellist, Colin Carr. "Our new album embodies the idea of "journeys" on several levels," says Eugene Drucker. "The wide spectrum of colors, moods and compositional techniques in Tchaikovsky's passionate Souvenir de Florence could be a journey from Russia to Italy and back again. Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht depicts more of an internal journey from anguish and psychological torment to acceptance and love."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9d572e40) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dab2fd8) out of 5 stars The Emersons are among the best at whatever music they attempt June 16 2013
By John J. Puccio - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The first of the selections on the program is the Souvenir de Florence, Op. 70 by Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), which he wrote for string sextet in 1890 and premiered in 1892. He called it a "souvenir of Florence" because he composed a part of the second movement while visiting the city. As with Schoenberg's Verklarte Night that follows on the disc, we often hear Tchaikovsky's piece adapted for chamber orchestra, but there's something a little more intimate about these original sextet arrangements.

The first movement is somewhat stormy, tumultuous in fact. The Emersons attack the opening not just with verve but with absolute rigor. The movement quickly settles down into a rapturous melody that the Emersons infuse with an even further enlightening energy. It's still quite lyrical but on a spirited scale, especially in that drawn-out second subject with its delicious counterpoint.

The slow second movement, the Adagio cantabile e con moto, is serene, the Romantic centerpiece of the work. The Emersons capture its delicately rhapsodic nature without giving in to the temptations of sentimentalizing it. They bring out all its most lovely contrasts, the strings almost literally singing their parts. It is sublime.

The final two movements, marked Allegretto moderato and Allegro con brio e vivace, increase in tempo and gusto, sounding far more rhythmically vital and "Russian" than the rest of the work. In the Emersons' hands, these sections bounce along at a zippy yet never breathless pace, the third movement sounding particularly folksy in its presentation. The finale begins with a quick dance tune that the Emersons handle in vivacious style, producing a sunny, warm-hearted result.

The final number on the disc is Verklarte Nacht ("Transfigured Night"), Op. 4, a single-movement sextet written by the Austrian composer and painter Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) in 1899, one of his first important works. The Emerson players perform Verklarte Nacht with great urgency and drama, charging it with notable expression through their nuance and coloring. One has little trouble following the music's interrelated themes (especially with the words to Dehmel's poem reproduced in the accompanying booklet) as its story unfolds in a miniature tone poem. The Emersons emphasize the warmth, stillness, passion, and pathos of the poem, their playing, as always, immaculate.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d572c90) out of 5 stars Another remarkable release from the Emerson Quartet - and friends June 10 2013
By Grady Harp - Published on
Format: Audio CD
There are certain chamber ensembles that seem to get better with age and the Emerson String Quartet is certainly in that category. Formed in 1976 and based in New York City, the Quartet took its name from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. The Emerson String Quartet is Quartet-in-Residence at Stony Brook University. The members have been constant since its formation - Eugene Drucker, Philip Setzer, Larry Dutton, David Finckel - and the sound is so pure that it could only come form en ensemble who know and understand each other's qualities so intimately.

The Emerson Quartet's repertory has rested solidly in the Haydn/Beethoven/Brahms mainstream. The group has rarely recorded Tchaikovsky, and Schoenberg never until this release. Journeys contains both, in the form of two sextets, Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence and Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht. To become a sextet as opposed to a quartet the Emerson Quartet is joined by violist Paul Neubauer and cellist Colin Carr. The two works were written within ten years of each other, but they were at opposite extremes of the music of the period in their handling of tonality, and a conventional outlook would hold that they could hardly be more different. Yet the players seem to be suggesting that composers can't fully escape the spirit of the times in which they live, and that in fact, the two works have much in common. Both were written for the combination of two violins, two violas, and two cellos. Both, as the album title suggests, depict journeys, Tchaikovsky's physical, Schoenberg's psychological. And there is a certain emotionally overheated quality that spills through the neat classic forms of the Souvenir de Florence and links it to the more radical world of Schoenberg. The performances seem to stress the connection, with an unusually nervous Tchaikovsky that stresses the dissonances and a warmly Romantic Schoenberg. As one critic has said, `You may be able to find performances that bring out the basic traits of each work more effectively, but it's safe to say that they haven't been put together in this way.' Grady Harp, June 13
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d43548c) out of 5 stars The last Emerson recording with David Finckel as cellist Jan. 29 2014
By R. Rosoff - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As an Emerson "groupie" I'm pleased to have this recording in my collection., if nothing more that for nostalgia factor.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d553da4) out of 5 stars For String Quartet Lovers. Oct. 13 2013
By K. H. Harrell - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For anyone loving string quartets, this is a winner and I am sure you will not be disappointed with this new cd.
1 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d3d41c8) out of 5 stars A big disappointment Aug. 9 2013
By Eloise A. Rochelle - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I bought this CD after reading a fairly long detailed review of it. The music didn't sound anything like reviewer described.

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