“(Music) takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.” The romantic mysticism of Ralph Waldo Emerson couldn’t have been a better inspiration for the Emerson String Quartet, with music both soft in its subtle melodies and proud in its boisterous crescendos.
Tonight will mark the acclaimed chamber ensemble’s 13th visit to Ann Arbor since 1989. This time, renowned pianist Wu Han, wife of the quartet’s cellist David Finckel, will take the stage during the second half. Ken Fischer, president of the UMS, calls her “a force of nature, active as a concert and recording artist, music educator, arts administrator and cultural entrepreneur.”
The audience will also have the opportunity to hear the quartet as a trio – due to violist Lawrence Dutton’s four-month hiatus, post-rotator cuff surgery. Quartet member Eugene Drucker, primarily the group’s first violinist, will substitute for Dutton on viola. Friday’s performance will feature Mozart’s “E-Flat Divertimento for String Trio” and Brahms’s “Piano Quartet in g minor.” With the uncommon nature of the three-part piece, “Divertimento,” presents a challenge to the musicians. The composition is unpredictably dynamic in form, giving new feeling to the ever-changing sounds involved in a musical transformation. In the “Piano Quartet,” the audience will experience a four-part harmony with the piano, cello, violin and viola, all of which help create a palpable state of suspense.
“The Emersons are one of today’s premiere string quartets, so UMS is always honored to
present them,” said Susan Bozell, UMS’s marketing and media relations manager. “U of M students not only have access to amazing faculty, nationally ranked sports teams, and myriad service opportunities, but also world-renowned artists right on campus.”
The quartet can list among its accolades six Grammy Awards and three Gramophone Magazine Awards, which have elevated them to the level of the world’s paramount chamber ensembles. They uphold this reputation by touring throughout Europe, including Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. The group now resides at Stony Brook University in New York as chamber music instructors.
The Emersons are not only diverse in where they tour but in their selections as well. Since the founding of the quartet in 1976 the musicians have incorporated Shostakovich, Bart