The Emerson String Quartet, Stony Brook’s resident ensemble, won its ninth Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance for its May 2009 recording Intimate Letters, released by Deutsche Grammophon. The recording, honored at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards on January 31, is an exploration of the works of two great Czech composers: Leos Janácek’s String Quartet No. 1 after Leo Tolstoy: The Kreutzer Sonata; String Quartet No. 2 Intimate Letters; and Bohuslav Martinu’s Three Madrigals for Violin and Viola.
Named America’s greatest quartet by Time magazine, the Emerson has been Stony Brook’s resident ensemble since 2002. Its members, all artists-in-residence at Stony Brook, teach master classes together and individually. In addition to their performances worldwide, the members also perform solo and have taught classes at institutions throughout the world. The quartet consists of violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer; Lawrence Dutton, viola/alto; and David Finckel, cello.
“What’s great about winning a Grammy is that you are being nominated and voted for by your colleagues, by people who are in the business, mostly in classical, people who really do know what you are doing. That’s what really struck me this time. They really listened carefully to what we’re doing and really thought enough about it to vote for us. That was really moving for me this time.”
Being at Stony Brook has allowed the quartet to represent the Department of Music worldwide, Setzer said. “We feel it’s a great honor to represent Stony Brook. We think it’s a special place and the people involved, whether students, faculty, administration, or the general public, they all appreciate what a jewel this is at the University here. It’s a very, very strong music department and very highly respected around the world and it if we can help to be a part of that and help spread word, that’s a great honor for us.”
“I was thrilled and so proud when Emerson String Quartet violinist Phil Setzer texted me Sunday night with the words ‘We Won’ from the Grammy Awards in LA,” said Staller Center Director Alan Inkles. “We are so honored and tremendously fortunate to have these master musicians breathing life into music through their concerts, master classes, workshops, and their training of our fine music students at Stony Brook.
The quartet’s next recording will be released in conjunction with a May 2010 three-concert series, “Adventures in Bohemia,” in the recently renovated Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. The correlated 3-CD set for Deutsche Grammophon of Dvořák’s late quartets, Cypresses, and the viola quintet, will be released in 2010.