Ear Supply: Transcendentalists

A cellist bids Seattle farewell.

It's not only for their excellence that the Emerson String Quartet is acclaimed, but their longevity as well—the same four musicians (Eugene Drucker, Philip Setzer, Lawrence Dutton, and David Finckel) have been together since the group's founding in 1976. Though not for long: Cellist Finckel is moving on after this season, and this Meany Hall appearance will be his last of the ESQ's annual Seattle visits. No current quartet is as reliably fantastic, playing with infallible firmness and presence, expressive subtlety, searing intensity (when necessary), and remarkable clarity; you can hear everything that happens in everything they play. Brahms' dense Quartet in A minor—What's the opposite of sparkling? This piece is it—will benefit greatly from such an approach. Also on this end-of-an-era concert will be Haydn's quartet op. 20 no. 4 and The Four Quarters (2010) by British composer Thomas Adès, which portrays the course of a day as Vivaldi's Four Seasons does a year. 

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