This is the Emerson String Quartet’s final recording after 47 years in the business. Their last live performance will be in New York City on 22 October. No wonder, then, that there is a valedictory quality pervading the program. That, and longing, or more properly Sehnsucht.

As the quartet’s Eugene Drucker writes in his booklet note: “What unifies these stylistically disparate works is the expression of unfulfilled, perhaps unfulfillable yearning, as well as the composers’ absolute commitment to their aesthetic ideals.”

The ESQ collaborate here with highly acclaimed Canadian conductor and soprano Barbara Hannigan who, while having given no less than 85 world premiere performances throughout her career, seems to have a particular fondness for the music of the early part of last century.

Hannigan and the ESQ had performed Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2 in F-sharp minor, Op. 10 (1908) just twice but always wanted to commit it to record. As for Hindemith’s Melancholie, Op. 13 (1917-1919), it was Hannigan who only recently drew this...