Emerson Quartet is drowned out by a helicopter

Emerson Quartet is drowned out by a helicopter


norman lebrecht

June 30, 2021

From our friends at New York Classical Review:

The Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park is one of the primary outdoor places to enjoy classical music in New York right now. Recently restored this fine venue is currently one of the few classical with a regular, in-person concert schedule.

Tuesday night, that schedule brought the mixed and combined forces of the Emerson and Ulysses String Quartets. The musicians, playing Strauss, Bruckner, Shostakovich, and the Mendelssohn Octet battled the elements with some verve, and succeeded in the end, though it was close call….

Bruckner’s Quintet has more oomph, but isolating the third Adagio movement from the rest gave the performance a hazy presence. Bruckner is a large-scale thinker, and as deep as his slow movements are, they are best when prepared by previous sections. The players—Brookes joined violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer and the rest of the Emersons—circled the edges of the piece for awhile, then became clearly more involved in the middle section, bringing in the audience. But the closing pages were marred by the slow pass of a helicopter, seeming deliberate about ruining the experience. After the final note, Setzer gestured to the sky with his bow, in frustration…

Read on here.


  • Mather Pfeiffenberger says:

    Must have been the ghost of Stockhausen…

  • Larry says:

    There’s an old Dave Brubeck recording, done in a live outdoor concert. At one point during his solo, a small plane flies overhead and the engine is quite audible. Brubeck immediately lapsed into a chorus of “Off we go, into the wild blue yonder,” then continued with his solo.

  • MR says:

    Conversely, a welcome intrusion occurs on my favorite recording of monumental Raga Kaunsi Kanada, whereby Shivkumar Sharma on santoor and Zakir Hussain on tabla (not playing in the opening minutes) are enveloped by a mysterious atmospheric swishing that somehow enhances the music. This unexpected harmonious accompaniment turned out to be a most vocal gathering of crickets for the nighttime outdoor performance in India.

    Lawrence Dutton, the violist for the Emerson Quartet, and myself were among the students in a music theory course taught by the inspirational band director, Rollan Masciarelli. Lawrence was a senior at the time, and myself a sophomore.

    • Ashu says:

      [This unexpected harmonious accompaniment turned out to be a most vocal gathering of crickets for the nighttime outdoor performance in India.]

      I recall that in Boehm’s 1971 outdoor performance of Tristan in Paris, a cricket begins to be heard towards the end of act three, and Nilsson ends up duetting with it on the Liebestod, where it speeds up its song in pace with the music’s rising intensity.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    When the Barbican did a Sofia Gubulaidina weekend there was a concert from St Giles church on the Sunday afternoon and it was going out live, I think, on Radio 3. Unfortunately a helicopter was going round and round making a terrific racket and completely spoiling the concert, I think it was John Tusa who said if anyone with any power is listening can you get the helicopter to go away? We were told that because the Barbican Centre looks like the outline of a grand piano from the air it is used as a navigation point for the police etc. No idea if that’s true.

  • KANANPOIKA says:

    Remembering Lynn Harrell playing “Don
    Quixote” at Blossom….ca. 1969-1971.
    During the big soliloquy…a small plane
    flew directly overhead…it was agonizing…. I recall Abe Skernick…Cleveland’s stellar principal violist…., and the profound look of
    frustration on his face.

    The performance was taped…. I listened to it for years…stunning… complete with the airplane back-drop….

    Harrell later told me…”Always give 105%…so if “things” hit the fan, you have something which to fall back on”

    The Finns have a word for this….It’s
    called “Sisu.”

  • christopher storey says:

    There was a famous Beethoven recording of Furtwangler and ( I think ) the Berliners from 1943/4 which in which the Rolls Royce Merlins of multiple Avro Lancasters can be heard. All a bit chilling but you have to give the band and conductor full marks for bravery

  • leo grinhauz says:

    probably Setzer’s upstairs neighbor.