Emerson Quartet & David Finckel Conversation

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>>Anne McLean: Good evening. I’m Anne McLean from the
Libraries Concert Office. We are tremendously
excited tonight to present the eminent
Emerson String Quartet. [ Applause ] Phil Setzer, Eugene Drucker, Lawrence Dutton,
and Paul Watkins. And on the end, a
wonderful guest artist, cellist David Finckel,
whose the co-director of The Chamber Music
Society of Lincoln Center. We are so looking forward to
your concert honoring the memory of a great friend of the Library
of Congress, Robert Mann. Welcome to all of you. When you’re in Washington,
for us it’s a bit tricky because you’re usually
right down the street with our colleagues
at the Smithsonian. Isn’t this a special anniversary
for you there, this year? Or was it last year?>>Paul Watkins:
Gee, I don’t know. [laughter] Well, it
was our 40th year, but this is our 42nd
year now already. So, yeah.>>Anne McLean: So you’re
approaching the length of service of Bobby
Mann, really. I mean, you’re rolling
toward a very, here at the Library we claim
that we have a long relationship with Bobby for 70 years.>>Paul Watkins: Wow, well we
haven’t quite gotten there.>>Anne McLean: Haven’t
quite gotten there.>>Paul Watkins: Getting
close, some of us.>>Anne McLean: Exactly
how old is Emerson? I know you started playing
in school together, right?>>Philip Setzer: Yeah,
but we don’t, is this on? We don’t count that as part of
the official tally of years. Phil and I began playing longer
ago than I care to admit. But the quartets professional
existence as Phil said, it’s like our 42nd season,
or it’s been 42 years since we had that first season.>>Philip Setzer: But
that’s when we met, when we started working
with Robert Mann was in my second year at
Juliard, which is 1970 — 9. No, 1970!>>Anne McLean: He
used to say that being in the Juilliard quartet
for 50 years meant that he often had
younger colleagues. So that’s what kept him young.>>Philip Setzer: I often
have younger colleagues, because I’m the oldest one here.>>Anne McLean: Are you?>>Philip Setzer: Yes.>>Anne McLean: And now
you have a new colleague, is he keeping you young?>>Philip Setzer: Yeah, he
carries my sticks occasionally. [laughter] Not really, no.>>Philip Setzer: I think I read
an interview just very recently, the Juilliard Quartet itself
is in its 72nd season. Now is that?>>Anne McLean: That could be.>>That makes sense, it
started shortly after the war.>>Anne McLean: I think so. And just for the record, explain
how we get to these points. We figured the Juilliard Quartet
and Bobby first brought them to the Library December
10th, 1948. So we got to that for the 70
years, basically, close to that. We have of course a long and
remarkable history and one of the things that we
want to talk with you about is how his influence
shaped you as a quartet and your teaching individually. And also, we want to a
little later, make the points that the Library
really is an institution which saw Bobby inhabit
many of the roles that he had in his career. Not only a great
performer, but a composer, his work was performed here. He lectured here, he
taught master classes here, and so forth. So it’s really a remarkable
perspective that we have. In terms of what we wanted
to started with though, we’d love to hear a little
bit more about your projects, all of you, and that
includes David. Because you have so many
exciting things and one of the things that Bobby
brought was a sense of adventure for us, anyway. So I know, and I think an
audience probably knows something about your
performances of the Black Monk and also so really other
interesting new projects. Maybe we can talk about
that a little bit.>>Philip Setzer: Well the
Shostakovich and the Black Monk, I don’t know if any
of you got to see that at wolftrax [phonetic]. Yeah, a couple of hands went up. It is sort of the latest project
that we’ve actually performed, there’s another project
coming up on the horizon which somebody can talk about. There were a couple of theatre and music collaborations
that we’ve done. One was called, The Noise of
Time, with Simon McBurney, also about Shostakovich. But a very different
approach to it. This one has more to
do with his interest or I would say almost obsession with a Chekhov story
called The Black Monk, that Shostakovich wanted
to make into an opera most of his life and never got to it. And finally tries near the end
of his life is just too frail and too weak to actually
write it all out. He plans it, but he
just can’t quite do it. I and a number of other people
whom I trust, feel that some of the music for that
opera ended up in the — especially the last
two string quartets, there’s this swirling
music in the 15th quartet, that if that’s not
the Black Monk, then it’s a very
strong coincidence. And also this sort of Italian
serenade music that occurs in the 14th quartet, in the
slow movement, it comes back at the end, I think is a
reference to the Braga serenade that Chekhov talks
about in the story. And we know that Shostakovich
was going to include that in the opera because he
made an arrangement of it. So, we sort of in a way, kind
of tried to finish the opera without making an
opera out of it. There’s seven actors and
the brilliant director and writer Jim Glassman,
James Glassman, interweaved the Chekhov story
with Shostakovich’s story and I worked on the
music side of it and sort interweaved the
music of Shostakovich and Braga, through the drama. And the other, just
personal thing for me, is it’s the first time
my wife is Linda Setzer and she’s an actors and it’s
the first time that we were able to collaborate on
something of that magnitude. So she plays Irina Shostakovich.>>Anne McLean: Wow, I’m amazed. I was interested about the seven
actors and I wondered if any of you are daring to think of
acting yourselves in any future or narrating or something.>>Philip Setzer: No!>>Anne McLean: No. [laughs]>>Philip Setzer: I’ve seen
— I’ve been too close to it and seen how hard it is. [laughs] I would never,
it’s like people ask me, “Don’t you want to play jazz?” And I say yeah, I have dreams
about sitting at the piano and being play Jazz, but it’s — there’s something smart about knowing what you
shouldn’t try to do. [ Laughter ]>>Anne McLean: And David,
you have a Russian project — a major Russian project going on at the chamber music society
too this year too, don’t you?>>David Finckel: Yeah, well
we’re faced with full, you know, nine-month seasons of concerts. Winter seasons. And of late, we’ve come
to try to put a kind of a thematic stamp
on each season and for some reason this year,
the music of Russia emerged. So we just had a concert the
other night to open the season, which was a bunch of
composers and musicians who influenced early
Russian music. Actually, there was only one
Russian on the whole program. But there was people like
Shuman, and Mendleson and John Field, and even
Viati [assumed spelling] who went to Russia. So that was fun. But in the winter festival
coming up which is in March, there will be four concerts
devoted to the full spectrum of Russian music, which
includes the very early stuff, the hyper romantic nationalist
stuff, the age of the empire and then of course
the very, very edgy and significant 20th century
repertoire that’s very much a reflection of the times in
which the composers lived.>>Anne McLean: And
don’t you take patrons on your tours too, as well? That’s a huge thing.>>David Finckel: We’re
taking them to Gulag for this. [ Laughter ]>>Anne McLean: Oh my guidance.>>David Finckel: No,
but we did actually, we did a St. Petersburg trip. Not in relation to the New York
festival, in relation to one of our California
festivals, but that was fun. And yes, we just got back from
a tour that related once again to another festival and so,
yes, patron tours are quite fun.>>Anne McLean: You
know, I understand from watching intensively,
various YouTube things about these people
that of course, each of them has a
private passion and one of David’s apparently is food. So we could come back to that.>>David Finckel: Anytime! Anytime.>>Anne McLean: Before we
get to that I wanted to say that this afternoon we looked at some sketches in
Alban Berg’s hand. David you weren’t here for that,
but we quickly looked at a few. For the Lyric Suite,
this was part of the Rudolf Kolisch
collection, the Kolisch String Quartet. For, just to see the analysis
in Berg’s hand and it was kind of fascinating, even
a quick look. But, you, this relates to one of
your very most recent projects and if you could talk a little. One of you said that
being a musician is like being a detective,
I think, in some ways. [ Inaudible ] [ Laughter ]>>Eugene Drucker: A few years
ago we recorded Berg’s Lyric Suite, and there is a sixth — the sixth movement of that
suite had a hidden voice part. The whole piece was secretly about Berg’s adulterous
love affair with a woman named Hanna Fuchs. Each of them was married to somebody else while
this was going on. And I don’t think the
affair lasted all that long and certainly for Berg
it did not end happily. I think he was heartbroken that he couldn’t pursue
their relationship. He made a gift to Hanna Fuchs
of a secretly annotated score when it was first published,
full of color-coded references to secrets that embedded in
the score, musical symbolism that has to do with specific
events in their relationship. Her two children are
represented at characters in the second movement.>>They’re initials.>>Eugene Drucker: His initials and Hanna Fuchs initials
are interwoven into the musical motifs. But the most significant
difference is that the sixth movement
has a secret text. It was a German translation
by Stephan Giorgi [phonetic] of a poem by Baudelaire,
from the L’fleur de ma . And it’s called De
Profundis Clamavi. I can’t recall now whether
the French version has that Latin title. But it is a poem that
expresses utter desolation. This was a part of an anthology
that they apparently liked to read together, and he knew that it would have a great
deal of meaning for her. So, the way it’s a hidden voice
part is that it was never meant to be performed with the
voice and with the text, in any way that would be
apparent to the public. And it was only decades
later, about 40 years after Berg’s death, when
his widow, Helene, died, then George Pearl, the imminent
composer and musicologist, came out with an
annotated score. Full of the results of the
detective work that he had done, some of which had involved
Hanna Fuch’s daughter, who was a very young
child at the time that her mother had this
connection with Berg. But she was the keeper of this
annotated score, and she seemed to know what a lot
of it was about. So, in that sixth movement,
Berg indicated exactly the words and the notes that each of the
instruments is playing in turn, which were doubling this
hypothetical voiced part. So George Pearl reconstructed that voice part with
the full text. And it’s quite powerful. So a few years ago we recorded
the lyrics with two versions of that sixth movement. The first version without voice, the way Berg intended
for it to be heard. And then the other version as
he intended, for Hanna Fuchs to imagine it and as
he himself imagined it, with the marvelous soprano Renee
Fleming, as our collaborator in this work and the
CD also contained — featured some works by other
composers from that same period or the same sort
of stylistic bent. Agon Villus [phonetic]
who set five sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
that were translated into German by Willca [phonetic] And Shawn
Barrett’s youngest student, Eric Seizel, who came
to the United States, I think he did a little
work for the film industry, but he never really made it. He died at a relatively
early age, tragically of a heart attack. And his, there’s this —
well he wrote tons of songs, but there was just one song
to be included in this. But speaking of Renee Fleming
and since you were asking about future projects, I think
Phil was eluding to the fact that we have another project
with Renee Fleming coming up, it’ll be premiered in
Tanglewood next July. It’s a work by Andre Previn,
with a text by Tom Stoppard.>>Anne McLean: Oh, interesting.>>Eugene Drucker: It is based
on the myth of the Odyssey and Renee will play the
character of Penelope in this, it’s sort of a monologue
for soprano, piano, and string quartet.>>Anne McLean: That’s
wonderful.>>Eugene Drucker: It’s all
the advanced on the Odyssey and Penelope’s extremely
long wait for Odysseus to return from his adventures.>>Anne McLean: These
are remarkable and thoughtful creative projects that are fascinating
to hear about. I know that Bobby would have
been really keen on hearing about all of them and I was
thinking about a comment that he made that I wanted
to move toward the idea of what you learned from him
about, he said that he loved — he said to me one day
that he loved rehearsing with Claudia Orow [phonetic]
because Orow was somebody who, he said he was a person
who was willing to enter into an exploration of
the way to do something. Which is a wonderful
way to rehearse. And I was wondering if
that joy of exploration and adventure is something
you experienced with him?>>[laughs] Do you remember?>>Lawrence Dutton: I do, I
mean actually we all came, well David did not
study with Robert Mann, basically Paul didn’t either, so it was really
just the three of us. You guys had worked with
him in the early formation of the quartet, right? That was with Maskow, no,
with Giarmole and Eric.>>Eugene Drucker: Yeah.>>Lawrence Dutton: And, I also
worked with him later actually, than they did, and he
was very fond of me. I had a wonderful
relationship with, I’m going friends
with his son Nikki. He was a force of nature. And you know, his — if you sat
down and played chamber music with him and sat down and read
a string quartet with him. I mean, there were no
[laughs] he could take you on the journey of that music. He could lead you in
such a way that was — it was extraordinary actually. It was just absolutely an
extraordinary experience to play with him, it really was.>>Anne McLean: You
know, for us, we think about the
personal side of him as well as the musical side and so many
of us who worked here knew Bobby for a very long time,
obviously, and there were times when you first came to
the Library, the managers, the chiefs of the division
then asked that they play, sometimes up to 15 or
20 concerts a year. Which we can’t imagine
today for a residency, it’s just unsupportable in terms
of the timeframe an artist, a group like yours
would have to devote. But that’s one of the
things that they said to him when he first took this on was,
would you be willing to come to Washington and live here
three to four days a week? And that didn’t quite work. But one of the other things I
was thinking about was his sense of humor, he had an
amazing sense of humor. And he was also incredibly
focused. When you spoke to him
about your interest or when he was telling you
something, you were the person in his line of vision and
no one else was around. I don’t know if you felt
that to occasionally?>>Philip Setzer: I mean, he
was a very intense human being. And when we are working
with him, I mean, he was at the same
time, supportive to us, but extremely critical. I was used to that
from having working with Ray Field Drion [assumed
spelling] in Cleveland, well you know, I studied
with him from the age of nine to I came to Juilliard. So he was a very
demanding teacher, really expected a lot out of me. And at the same time, I always
felt sure of where I was with Drion and also with Mann. I knew that if they liked
something that I did, that it really had
to be very good. And you know, it wasn’t
so much a shock to me. I think he really loved
the Emerson Quartet, or whatever we were called,
the baby Emerson Quartet, and thought that we had a
chance if we stayed together. He was encouraging
us to stay together and really make a go of it. I think also he,
there were times when he would get exasperated, because we just couldn’t
do what he wanted us to do. But, you know.>>Also, I mean, you
know, he had his opinion about the way a string quartet.>>Philip Setzer: I was just
going to say, he did not think that the switching in which — we’re going to do a little
bit of switching tonight.>>Anne McLean: Which
you’re known for.>>Philip Setzer: Usually
we play half the concert, one of us playing first
round and the other. And he said in the beginning
this is not going to work. We tried it in our
quartet, it didn’t work. So therefore it’s not going
to work in your quartet.>>Lawrence Dutton:
But to his credit.>>Philip Setzer:
Yeah, to his credit.>>Lawrence Dutton: He publicly in a New York Times article
he said, I was wrong. It was wonderful.>>Anne McLean: Interesting.>>Philip Setzer: He
did apologize for that, which was an amazing moment
actually for him to say, you know, “I was wrong”.>>Eugene Drucker:
Well it’s partly because we had stayed together, and to him in those very early
years, he thought it was a sign of lack of commitment
on our part. That neither one of us could
submerge his own ego enough to consent to play second
violin all the time. 4i thick that after
a while he understood that it had evolved
naturally for us that way, because we had always done that. And for us to have made
a decision to change that after having done it
for a few years as students and as a professional quartet it
was already six of seven years that we were doing it. It was very natural for
us to keep doing that. And I think if we
had made a decision to do it the other
way, I mean, who knows? It wouldn’t have
felt organic somehow.>>Anne McLean: Well you know, he was always interested
in the new too. I was thinking we should talk about the compositions we
heard of his and so on. But before that, I was thinking
that you too as you just said with these new projects, you’re
doing new things all the time and you play new works
by Sorryalhol [phonetic] and Ream and others and so on. And I noticed that you have a
newish record with British music and I was wondering if that’s
Paul’s influence, the Shakons and Fantasias [phonetic]? No? It’s a beautiful record.>>Paul Watkins: I don’t think
it’s got anything to do with me.>>Philip Setzer: Except
that you play in it.>>Paul Watkins: Except
that I’m playing on it. I think it’s fair to say that
Phil, who has quite a lot to do with programming
of our repertoire, I think you might have had
that in the works anyway.>>Philip Setzer: That
was planned with David, I mean that was something
that we were talking about.>>Paul Watkins: Yeah,
certainly the Britain second and third quartets, you
played a group together. The personal Fantasia’s
were maybe a bit more, well not really a departure
for the Emerson Quartet, because of course one of my
favorite Emerson recordings is of Bach’s, The Art of Fugue. So you know, playing that
music, really before the advent of the string quartet as
we know it, is something, you know with Purcell, we’re going back even
another 50 years? More than that actually for
the Bach, it’s earlier still. So that was perhaps
a bit of a departure.>>Yeah, because Bach wrote the
Art of the Fugue in the 1740s, in the last decade of his
life and Purcell died in what? 1696?>>95>>Yeah, 95.>>Philip Setzer: But one thing
also David, you should talk for a second, the
connection to Britain came — or the admiration for
Britain I think came partly through Restropovich, right? I mean, that’s how I
first came to it was because of your knowledge
of it through Slava.>>David Finckel:
That’s possible. As a young cellist I was very
enamored of the cello music of Benjamin Britten, he wrote
five fantastic pieces for cello. Three solo suites, the
cello and piano sonata and the great symphony concerto, by the way which Paul
recorded fantastically if you ever get a
chance to hear that. So, yes, perhaps I brought
my enthusiasm for Britain into the Emerson quartet
and the first piece we did of his was the second
quartet and I’m so happy that they final got
around to recording that and the third as well. Now you have to do the first.>>Philip Setzer: We’ve
got to learn that one. You know, one thing you
should just mention, because it hasn’t been
mentioned yet, but when — most of you know that David
was our cellist for 34 years. It was the same four people
for that length of time from 79 to David decided to
leave a few years ago. And I remember we talked
to David and said well, God you know, you know
us better than anybody. You know our playing better than
anybody, you know us as people. Who do you think, is
there anybody [laughs] that could replace you? Who do you think would
be the best person? He thought about it for a
second and he said, “Well, my number one choice
would be Paul Watkins, but you’ll never get him”. [laughs] And that was partly
because Paul was living in London and had
two young children and we didn’t realize we’d be
able to get him to do this. But it is funny that
those were the words that came out of David’s mouth.>>Anne McLean: . And it’s such an extraordinary
thing to have all five of you to play this work because
I was present when you had that so memorable
moment of handing off. And that was just such a>>Philip Setzer:
That was down here. That was at the Smithsonian,
down the street.>>Anne McLean: Yeah,
here at the Smithsonian. It was just incredibly memorable
for me and when I was thinking about when Bobby passed away,
I was thinking, well what kind of a concert would we be able to
do, and this came into my mind. And I said, well, I’ll
never be able to get them. [laughs]>>Philip Setzer: Another
ghost in the room tonight with be Rustropovich,
which whom we played and recorded The
Shubra [phonetic] and that was David’s
teacher, so.>>Anne McLean: Well you know,
in a moment, there’s so much to talk about in so very little
time because I know they have to get ready and so on. But a couple of other things. We have actually an interesting
clip if we have time for it, of the Budapest playing this
work with Gregor Piatigorsky. And what’s interesting about
it is, I’ll make a copy for you guys, what’s
interesting about it is that Piatigorsky didn’t
take the second cello, they gave him the other
role which is kind of fun and interesting.>>Philip Setzer:
Maybe he didn’t know to do pizzicato or something.>>Anne McLean: [laughs]
Something like that.>>Eugene Drucker: Similarly with Pablo Casals recorded
the Schubert quintet with the Vegh Quartet, right? He played first cello and what I
remember about the LP cover was that there was a miniscule
picture of the Vegh Quartet, a very large picture of
Pablo Casals and sort of a medium size
picture of Schubert. [ Laughter ]>>Philip Setzer: Yeah, that
sort of says it all right there.>>Anne McLean: So, speaking of
these great players, as I say, we have all these wonderful
recordings made here and one of the things I wanted to say
too was that Bobby spent a lot of time in this studio
listening to these and we made a wonderful
radio series about and some of you probably heard
some of those. But there’s also a clip that I’d
like to play for you that talks about — gives you the idea of how Bobby Mann
came to the library. What it is about his life
that led him to the library. And this came from the
sessions in the studio with me many years ago, if you
have that Mike, ready to play?>>As a teenager, my greatest
pleasure was getting together with my friends and
reading chamber music. Actually, I enjoyed it more
than studying all the concertos and all the exercises and
developing my violin playing. But I can tell you that,
maybe the most remarkable kind of experience that I had,
was listening on the radio to live performances of the
Budapest String Quartet, from the Library of Congress. Now, a young boy growing up
in Oregon, what’s he know about the sophisticated
world of chamber music? But I used to think and dream,
that is the life for me. And I used to think,
if I could do anything like these wonderful members of
the Budapest Quartet are doing, that would be a great
satisfaction and reward and a way of life.>>Anne McLean: So
this is, you know, something that is very
personal, you know, to hear him talk about that. As a child, he thought about
the Library and he said when he got the call in 1962
from Harold Sveback [phonetic] that was our former
boss, he said, “Bobby, are you standing or sitting? I have some new for you. How would you like to
the resident quartet at the Library of Congress?” And he said that was
a dream come true. So for 50 years he
was here during that period, beginning in 1948.>>Lawrence Dutton:
I was just thinking about his influence on us. I would say that the model of the Juilliard quartet
is really the most, the model that we would
probably align ourselves with. It’s the model of really trying
to play all the repertoire, everything from personal
to contemporary music and being able to try to
do it as well as you can. Being able to do all the styles
and commission new music. That was a great model
for us, the Juilliard. I mean, how they did that. I mean, they commissioned
so many, they had so many works
written for them. And then of course
they could play Heiden and they could play Beethoven,
you know, and that’s really to be a quartet, you need
to be able to do all of it.>>Anne McLean: And we, looking
at this quote by Alan Rosen, saying that he thought that
Robert Mann represented not only of course the continuity
within the Juilliard Quartet and the quartet world, but
to a great degree quote, “The development
of chamber music in the United States
during the second half of the 20th century.” And this is something
that resonated with me. And now you, all of
you, are teaching, you have great important jobs
in the music world and this kind of influence does not die.>>Paul Watkins: I would go
further to say that he had — he and the Juilliard quartet that he formed had an
international reach and certainly growing up as a
kid in South Wales in the 1970s and then going to a music school
outside London in the 1980s, I was well aware of the, you
know, the distinguished series of concerts here at the
Library of Congress. That was something that
was you know, disseminated across BBC Radio three as well. And when I turned up at the
Menuhin School at the age of 13, I remember being absolutely
delighted about many things, but delighted that they
had a whole room with — about the size of this room
actually, with the length of that wall devoted to records. You know, enormous amounts
of records and many, many recordings of the
Juilliard Quartet were there, and particularly their
groundbreaking recordings of the Bartok Quartet’s. In the 80’s I devoured
those and wore them out and then little did I know
that while I was listening to these things and desperately
learning to play the cello and learning to play chamber
music, another quartet on the other side of the
Atlantic were getting ready to make an equally
groundbreaking recording of the six Bartok quartets. Now it happens to be a
quartet that I’m a member of. You know, it’s amazing how
life works like that really.>>Anne McLean: And you know,
Bartok was a huge element in his life from a young man
and that’s something you — everyone knows that the
Juilliard Quartet made its name with Bartok early on and that
Koussevitzky invited them to Tanglewood in part because
he knew their Bartok already, of course he knew who they were. He was interested in the fact
that they were so adventurous, and people talk about
David Harrington from the Kronos Quartet talks about the blazing propulsive
quality of Bobby Mann’s playing on those early records
with Robert Kroft, Arthur Grant Winograd,
Rayfield Hilliard. But I didn’t know until I
started looking into this that he had recorded as a very
young man, the Bartok sonatas with Leonard Hembrough
[phonetic]. He made his debut conducting
the Bartok piano concerto, I didn’t know that. So Bartok was a huge
element in his life. And did you ever
study Bartok with him?>>Eugene Drucker: Yes. The first quartet that Phil
and I ever learned as members of an embryonic, and I’m talking
about a long gestation period, Emerson Quartet, was the
second Bartok Quartet. Now that’s not necessarily
the way that we would advise
young quartets to begin learning
how to play together. But, it seemed to
work okay for us. It took us most of the
academic year to get that piece under our belts. It was still one of
my favorite pieces.>>Philip Setzer:
It’s good that — probably if we had started
with something like Heiden, we probably wouldn’t
still be together. [laughs]>>Anne McLean: . You know, we might play
this clip for just a moment. It’s a funny thing to reach
back and find these things and it maybe not be
the best playing, but we’ve got two
incredible cellist here and I’d just be curious
to see their recreation. This is a Schubert
Quintet performance and maybe we could talk about
the quintet a little bit in terms of the remarkable
pairings of voices and you know all the things
that go back and forth. Do you have that one Mike? We’ll hear just a
little bit of that. It might take a moment
to queue it. [ Music ]>>Anne McLean: So just a
moment from the past there. So how do you manage
such a work? Is it as enjoyable
to do as to hear?>>Philip Setzer: [laughs]
This is where you come out with the answer, in a
way it’s impossible to talk about something like the
Schubert Cello Quintet because it’s — I
mean, what can you say? What can you say — what can
I say that will do it justice? I can’t. I’ll try
to do it some sort of justice tonight
when I play it. But, I mean, it’s
my favorite piece. I don’t know, I wouldn’t
know how to say it. You think about what
Schubert did in the last year of his life, knowing that he was
dying and the amount of music, even just the amount of music
that’s in this one piece, that he left for us frantically
writing these huge pieces to leave something
on this earth. And you know.>>Anne McLean: You know one
of the things that we would like to do here is to do a
concert from the year 1827 to 1828, just that you. There’s just, or a whole
series about them as you say.>>Paul Watkins: Yeah,
we did once in New York. We did the late Beethoven
quartets with the late Schubert. All written within a
few years in Vienna.>>Anne McLean: You were
asking who that was.>>Paul Watkins:
Who was playing?>>Anne McLean: So that was
the Budapest Quartet playing at the very end of its tenure
here Gregor Piatigorsky. So just for a moment. But I mean, it’s an
ancient recording and so on, but it just has something that.>>Paul Watkins: Were they
playing on those instruments? We were just wondering.>>Anne McLean: We,
Piatigorsky was playing, or one of them actually, I
don’t know which of the two, was playing the Strad,
our Strad cello. So that’s account for
that very deep sound. Let’s back track
just for a moment onto the Elliott Carter
before we lose time. And that is something — do
you have any comments you’d like to make on the Carter
since that’s such a work that Bobby Mann was identified
with of course tremendously. Did you ever talk to him about the Carter
Quartets or work on them?>>Philip Setzer: I actually
sat behind Elliott Carter in a couple of rehearsals
of the third quarter, before they premiered it, which is the most
difficult one of the five. It’s basically two
pieces for duos, two duos. That doesn’t really, that they
kind of go on at the same time, that they don’t intersect much,
is incredibly difficult to do, even with a click track and the
Juilliard Quartet didn’t do it that way, they did it by
leading some big beats of places where they would come together. But it was, even for them, it
was a tremendous challenge. I remember Bobby Mann looking
just absolutely exhausted looking walking around the
halls, they were rehearsing like 10 hours a day
trying to get this thing. And I remember sitting
behind Carter and we had this huge
score and I was trying — I couldn’t really make sense
out of just looking at it. But they were making sense
out of it on the stage and I heard the premier of it. Years later, this is kind of
a funny story, I went to — we were invited to a
reception at Carnegie Hall in which Ara Guzelimian was
given the French legion of honor for getting out on night stage
of Carnegie Hall several times and talking about how, this
is after the Persian Gulf War and people were demonstrating
against French music. And Ara made a number of
speeches as he was, you know, at Carnegie Hall then. He’s now the head
of Juilliard school. Saying that you know, art
has to — art will you know, be here long after
we’re not here and we can’t treat it this way. And because he did that he
was given this French Legion of Honor, by Pierre Boulez. And everybody was in this small
room, including Elliott Carter. And Carter’s wife
had just passed away and I saw him sitting in a
wheelchair by himself and I — I didn’t think he would
know or remember me at all, even though I had met him
a few times over the years. But I saw him sitting there by
himself and I went over to him and he was very hard of hearing
and he lived to be over 100. And I knew that I had
to talk loud to him. And I said, “Mr. Carter!” I said, “I’m Phillip Setzer
from the Emerson String Quartet and I just wanted to
tell you I was very sorry to hear about your wife.” And he goes in this really loud
voice, so loud that everybody in the room, New York Times,
the French government, Pierre Boulez, everybody
stops and turns around and he goes, “Emerson Quartet!” In this really loud voice. Everybody stops. He says, “Great quartet. Why the hell don’t you
play my string quartets?” [ Laughter ]>>Anne McLean: Did you
have an answer for him?>>Philip Setzer: I said,
well, we’ve been thinking of doing the first quartet, I
like the first quartet a lot and he says, “Difficult piece, it’s going to take
a lot of rehearsal.” Luckily, I didn’t say
anything about the elegy because I’m not even
sure he liked the elegy, it’s an early work. We think very beautiful work
and I wanted to do something of Carter’s in memory of Bobby and this is the only
one that we know, so.>>It doesn’t sound like Elliott
Carter, from the later works. It sound much more
like Eric Copeland.>>Philip Setzer: Yeah,
it was written in 1946, originally as a viola
piece, apparently. Viola and piano, and then
arranged for orchestra and they made a quartet
arrangement of it. But, it’s beautiful.>>Anne McLean: So, I think if
you have time for just maybe two or three questions, I could go
on like this for a long time because I’m fascinated in
talking with this people who are at the very pinnacle
of the music world and they occupy really, a position of enormous
responsibility. One final thing I guess I was
going to ask you about was, I was looking at comments from
Sasha Schneider and Boris Croid. Sashs made the comment that he
felt that he wanted to just go out and play the music. That he felt that after 30
years he didn’t have to worry about the projecting each note. That he was going to be able to
be part of the music that way. And Boris Croid said
interestingly that after many years with
the Budapest he wanted to feel that he could enjoy the music, he wanted to be just
there in the music. So does this, as you
approach maybe — you’re past your 40th
anniversary now and David you’re into a realm of managing
many people doing all sorts of extraordinary music making, what is your perspective
on this? Do you feel that’s
something you’ve reached? Or are you mostly still
thinking each note, each moment. Notice how he’s moving
the microphone.>>David Finckel:
Somebody else answer that.>>Lawrence Dutton:
Well, it’s never stops. I think you keep searching. To learn this music, you’ll never finish interpreting
it, and there’s no end. I mean, that’s why there can be so many multiple
interpretations. Many, many string quartets,
many great performers. Because there’s always another
way to look at this music. You know, and you
have the Budapest and you have the
Kolisch Quartet. And the next generation
you have the Juilliard and you have the
Guarneri Quartet. It’s an endless search. I think if you give up searching
and give up trying to, you know, come up with new ideas. I mean, the funny thing
about it is that you go through so many permutations
of tempos and everything and you can see from looking
at the part, you know, how many times you’ve done
multiple bowings and stuff that — oh, well we used to do
that up bow and then we back to down for about ten years
and now we’re back up. You know, there’s certain
things we can do with a bow, which is actually not too
many things, just up or down. And maybe connect a few notes
and whatever, but [laughs]. But you never stop, I
mean, because you get to different places
with this music. And it changes, I changes
as you age and you know, we were playing Beethoven,
it’s much different now than when we were younger. It’s great. It is as what Bobby said as
a kid, yeah, that’s right. It’s a dream, it is
a dream to be able to play this great repertoire.>>Anne McLean: . Maybe that’s a good
stopping point, you think? I think actually
we probably do — you need to get backstage
and warm up.>>Lawrence Dutton: Sure.>>Anne McLean: So I think we
will stop there and thank you so much for being part of this and taking the time
to talk with this. And one comment about
our brochure, and in that brochure it says
that with musicians like these, there may be some
hope for humanity. I think that’s really true. [ Applause ]

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