PERFORMANCES OF WORKS BY MOZART, FAURÉ, AND DVORÁK CAPTURED LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL
12 April 2019 (Toronto, ON) - The prospect of an evening of chamber music made by Evgeny Kissin and the Emerson String Quartet was bound to raise the highest expectations. But what would their first collaboration bring? That question was answered in full over the course of eight concerts given in January and April last year in Baden-Baden, Paris, Munich, Essen, Vienna, Chicago, Boston and New York. To say that the results – projected into music by Mozart, Fauré and Dvořák – were special would be an understatement. The recording of the tour’s final date at Carnegie Hall, The New York Concert (Live in New York City / 2018) has been released today via Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Music Canada, the country’s leading music company. Listen to the recording HERE.
Eugene Drucker, violinist with the world-renowned Emerson Quartet since its formation in 1976, and his colleagues – fellow violinist and founder member Philip Setzer, violist Lawrence Dutton and cellist Paul Watkins – shared a sense of keen anticipation before their first rehearsal with the equally distinguished pianist Evgeny Kissin. Like countless other admirers of Kissin’s work, the Emersons were naturally aware of his jaw-dropping virtuosity and huge expressive range, and had therefore welcomed their management’s idea that they should work together. They were soon to discover the pianist’s desire to explore every phrase, every detail of the architecture of the contrasting yet interconnected works they chose to play. The preparation process, as Drucker recalls, created space for a true meeting of minds, allowing Kissin and the Emersons to preserve their individual characteristics while revealing qualities unique to their collaboration.
All five musicians worked enthusiastically together to achieve a synthesis of views, from which emerged their dynamic interpretations of Mozart’s Piano Quartet No.1 in G minor K.478, Fauré’s Piano Quartet No.1 in C minor Op.15 and Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No.2 in A major Op.81. Their choice of repertoire also comprised two encore pieces, including the Scherzo from Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet in G minor Op.57.
Ideas tested in the rehearsal room were subsequently forged in the heat of performance, unleashing elemental shifts between Classical heroism and Romantic introspection, and drawing out points of dramatic tension and release. Everything flowed, nothing became fixed as Kissin and the Emersons moved from one concert to the next. Last year’s performances, notes Drucker, “were the highlights of [their] season”.
The close mutual understanding established between pianist and quartet was apparent to all who witnessed it. Reviewing the Carnegie Hall concert, classical music site Bachtrack underlined the “palpable sense of communion”, while The New York Times observed that the “strong, veteran string players … seemed ideally matched with the commanding pianist, and they had evidently achieved instant rapport”. Listeners to DG’s The New York Concert will now be able to discover the power of this new partnership for themselves.