Only movements away from completing its latest recording project for Deutsche Grammophon, the Emerson Quartet met at New York’s Academy of Arts and Letters with violist Paul Neubauer to record Dvorak’s “American” quintet, for string quartet plus viola. The recording will be included in a forthcoming release of the late quartets of Dvorak in the spring.
in David’s words…
Violist Paul Neubauer, I’m sure my quartet would agree, is without parallel on his instrument. An adventurous soloist whose repertoire embraces many styles and genres, his contribution to this recording was essential, musically and as a creative and supportive colleague. His many years of experience with this quintet, and his deep affinity for the great romantic traditions of string playing, make it difficult for us to imagine playing the work with anyone else.
The Emerson recording team would not be complete without producer Da-Hong Seetoo, whose relentless pursuit of technical perfection, fidelity to the score, quality of sound, and musical taste shine through in every recording we have made together.
Returning to the hall where we have made most of our recordings is a tradition that we have been very fortunate to enjoy. Situated on 155th street, between Broadway and Riverside, is the distinguished American Academy of Arts and Letters, which houses one of the most beautiful halls in New York. Used primarily for meetings of the Academy, the hall’s acoustics are ideal for recording, being enclosed in a magnificent stone building and well-removed from the street. The residents of the large cemetery across the street are also very quiet!
The darkened Academy hall (house lights make noise) is lit for us by authentic “Finckel Lights” as they are called by the staff at Music@Menlo. They were designed and built by me for the church concerts in Palo Alto, and they are the perfect, practical and economic way to illuminate music and musicians, if I do say so myself.
Recording for the Emerson Quartet requires paraphernalia-at-hand: scores, rosin, tuning machines, metronomes, pencils, instrument-cleaning cloths, and sometimes aspirin.
Lunch is a ritual that is performed exactly the same way at every session, with Da-Hong ordering Chinese take-out in either Mandarin, Cantonese or Shanghai-nese. The arrival of the food is a much looked-forward-to event, as the inevitable menu of Singapore noodles, egg foo young, sautéed vegetables and diet Cokes relieves the fatigue and prepares us for another grueling afternoon.