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Review: Emerson Quartet Musicians Deliver As Soloists
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Last Friday, the Louisville Orchestra performed alongside members of the infallible Emerson String Quartet in stellar interpretations of Mozart and Brahms.

Each season, orchestras across the world program double concertos and land world-class soloists to perform them.  What gave last week’s Louisville Orchestra concert such a uniquely fantastic perspective was that the soloists chosen were all from the same internationally renowned Emerson String Quartet that has been performing together for almost four decades.  It was a clever marriage of the expansive symphonic sound and the intimacy of chamber playing that yielded excellent musicianship from top to bottom.

Of particular noteworthiness was the rendition of Mozart’s

Sinfonia Concertante

by Quartet violinist, Philip Setzer and violist, Lawrence Dutton.  Setzer’s crisp and clear violin sound fit right into the pocket of Dutton’s buoyantly spirited viola playing, merging into a duet that would have made Papageno and Papagena envious.  The Orchestra’s enticingly engaging tutti statements convinced even Dutton who joined the viola section in its melodies, a testament to Mozart’s notion of elevating the instrument to a star status worthy of a concerto.

From their first operatic entrance it was clear that Setzer and Dutton had planned every phrase and bow stroke down to the millimeter.  As precise mirror images matching on nearly every musical level, the duo possessed a necessary homogeneity in its shared melodies while each player presented distinct yet complimentary soloistic ideas that never overpowered the score or the ensemble.  Likely the natural byproduct of their thirty-five years sitting next to one another in a quartet, Setzer and Dutton were able to anticipate and adapt, culminating in a showstopper performance that was as intelligently organized as it was seemingly spontaneous.

(Photo courtesy of

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About Michael J. Lambert

Native Louisvillian, local musician, School of Music grad. Writing about the classical music scene in our lovely River City. If you have a question or want to debate Wagner, drop me a line on Twitter! "The only love affair I ever had was with music." -Maurice Ravel

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