This monumental release documents the Emerson String Quartets exceptional longevity and dynamism founded in 1976, they are still as youthfully active and inquisitive as ever 40 years later. Moreover it charts the New York-based ensembles musical breadth, encompassing virtually all of the important repertoire for their formation.
This 52 CD collection includes their complete output on DG and features highlights such as the Nine Grammy Awards, Three Gramophone Magazine Awards; complete cycles by Shostakovich, Beethoven and Bartok; plus String Quartets by Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Schubert and many more.
The String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Opus 11, was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's first completed string quartet of three string quartets, published during his lifetime. (An earlier attempt had been abandoned after the first movement had been completed.) Composed in February 1871, it was premiered in Moscow on 16/28 March 1871 by four members of the Russian Musical Society: Ferdinand Laub and Ludvig Minkus, violins; Pryanishnikov, viola; and Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, cello.
The Emerson String Quartet formed in 1976 and kept the same personnel for more than 30 years. Journeys marks its final release with original cellist David Finckel, who has departed to pursue other projects (notably duo concerts with his wife, pianist Wu Han). It thus represents a turning point of sorts, and it is good to see that the group has not been content with simply recrossing safe territory but has delivered something innovative, both within its own catalog and in the general chamber music marketplace. 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.
This release presnts all of Grant Green and Baby Face Willette's collaborative albums as leaders. Recorded in 1961-62, they consist of the LP "Grant's First Stand" (Blue Note BST-84064), issued under the guitarist's name, and “Baby Face” Willette's albums "Face to Face" (Blue Note BST-84068) and "Stop and Listen" (Blue Note BST-84084). Other than their three LPs as leaders, Green and Willette only recorded together on Lou Donaldson's album Here ‘Tis, from which it has been added the title song, a long blues, as a bonus.
"Technically speaking the Emerson String Quartet are unimpeachable, with meticulous internal balance and intonation sustained at all times, remarkable tonal matching between the instruments and precision phrasing and dynamics…" ~International Record Review
Pure and simple genius from trumpeter Charlie Shavers – a player with a sweet tone and a fluid groove – stepping out here with great accompaniment from pianist Ray Bryant! The CD brings together work from the albums Charlie Digs Paree and Charlie Digs Dixie – both originally recorded for MGM Records in the late 50s, and done in a clean, uncluttered style that really brought a strong focus to Shaver's solos, but also gave some excellent rhythmic support from Bryant – working here at the height of his early powers, in a mode that's clearly relaxed enough to get with the spirit of each different session.
The Emerson Quartet might be said to bring the best of both worlds, combining the Classical purity of the Mosaiques with the Lindsay's Romantic warmth. Technically speaking theses players are very much in a class of their own and DG's recording (detailed, yet gently cushioned) is also in the luxury class.
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Emerson Quartet has made its first all-Haydn recording, featuring seven of his most famous quartets on two CDs. Presented chronologically, the program is arranged for utmost contrast of tonality, atmosphere, and character. The prevailing mood is joyous, as befits the occasion, though three quartets are in minor keys. The opening work, Op. 20, No. 5, is dark, brooding, and achingly beautiful. –Edith Eisler
The Emerson Quartet's recordings of the late Beethoven string quartets from 1994 and 1995 are by no means bad or even poor performances. The Emerson is clearly a superb quartet, arguably the best America has ever produced, with a strong tone, coherent intonation, and a cogent ensemble. No matter how difficult Beethoven's writing becomes – and in the late quartets, Beethoven's writing can become immensely difficult – the Emerson rarely shows any trace of effort or strain, but rather sails through the music with its virtuoso technique. But a virtuoso technique is the only basic requirement for playing Beethoven's late quartets. What the late quartets demand is not just virtuosity but intellectual, emotional, and spiritual depth. And while the Emerson surely has the intellectual depth and possibly the emotional depth, it certainly lacks the spiritual depth..
Newcomer to the Timpani label, the Debussy Quartet is certainly one of the finest quartets on the current French musical scene. With 20 years experience and recipient of many international awards they proudly bring the chamber works of Guillaume Lekeu to life. Whereas his violin sonata is almost universally known, the music lover will discover the magnificent work of the quartets, filled with a profound, autumnal melancholy.