Palm Beach Arts Paper 18/04/2018: Danish String Quartet’s Beethoven superb at Broward Center
The Danish String Quartet exuded energy and exuberance, which they launched with incisive rhythms and unanimity of intent, tempered by svelte tone and when called for, seamless legato.
Beethoven Quartet No. 14 - …The players enunciated the contrapuntal lines with clarity and confidence, morphing glibly into the sonata-allegro that follows. The crux of this quartet is a long series of variations, a relatively simple theme that the composer constructs, deconstructs and reconstructs in manifold permutations. The performers succeeded admirably in the enormously demanding task of creating a different mood and meaning for each segment.
The seventh movement sums up the entire contents of the work in a disjunct rhythmic motif, related to the opening fugue . It was not just the big moments that stood out. The ensemble excelled in executing transitions with subtle inflection. If there was any question that the Danish ensemble is one of today’s foremost string quartets, the way the group delivered this score put any doubts to rest. This was consummate artistry and understanding of some of the most difficult challenges in the entire classical music canon. Robert Croan - Review in full
South Florida Classical Review 15/04/2018 : Danish Quartet illuminates Beethoven’s music across three eras
… in today’s golden age of chamber ensembles, few will match the tonal luster, ensemble precision and interpretive brio of the Danish String Quartet.
The Danish Quartet opened with Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 3 in D major - … From the first notes, the quartet’s ensemble tone was striking–well balanced and transparent, light but richly resonant.
They brought an airy buoyancy to the opening Allegro, beginning unusually quietly and then building to passages of exultant joy. Their compact tone, topped by the graceful playing of first violinist Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen, gave a polished account of the Andante. The concluding movements were full of Haydnesque humor, right down to the witty, quiet ending, yet still played with a richness and grandeur that expressed the young composer’s emerging ambitions.
Beethoven’s Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131 - …. The Danish ensemble gave a performance of taut concentration that spanned the quartet’s landscape of inward contemplation, rollicking energy and raw-edged emotion.
The musicians opened softly, allowing the Adagio’s counterpoint to build in impact, playing the bleak passages for two violins or viola and cello with immense focus. Their ability to play pianissimo passages with clear, hall-filling resonance achieved an unusually wide dynamic range that allowed for greater expressivity.…This was a great performance of one of Beethoven’s last musical statements. David Fleshler - Review in full
Noozhawk 15/03/2018 : Something Sweet from State of Denmark
How to describe the sound of the Danish String Quartet? Homogeneous comes immediately to mind.
Four characterful instrumentalists discarding selfhood, as all quartets must, to embrace temperamental and interpretive unanimity.
Of the hundreds of string quartets on the world stage today, this quartet in particular, enjoys a unique equality of technical prowess between its members. The result, a disarming parity, the four speaking as one beautifully nuanced, superbly blended voice.
Haydn’s String Quartet No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 1, No. 1 - … From the first bars, the Danish Quartet’s ensemble timbre was smooth as caramel, a transparency of sound and voicing of disarming equanimity that brought out every nuanced detail of Haydn’s genius.
Mozart’s String Quartet No. 17 in B-flat Major, K. 458 - … The Danes turned in a performance of sweet perfection and impeccable style.
The Adagio for example, was a visual and sonic marvel of matched bowings, flawless intonation, and a hint of Schubert … Daniel Kepl - Review in full
The Strad Issue February 2018: CD Atmospheric arrangements of Nordic fiddle dances for string quartet
…New for this album, there are touches of extra instrumentation: cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin plays the double bass at times, while first violinist Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen doubles on harmonium, piano and glockenspiel. A second development is a number of pieces composed from within the group (three by Sjölin and one by Sørensen), demonstrating the quartet’s immersion in this music. Otherwise, though, Last Leaf picks up where Wood Works left off: well-paced arrangements of myriad dance tunes from across the Nordic countries – from more refined waltzes and minuets to the wilder fare of polskas and reels.
Across all the pieces, the quartet’s crystalline sound (in a well-balanced recording) conjures a magical atmosphere and nods to the strident tone of Nordic fiddle playing. Tim Woodall - Article
San Francisco Chronicle 20/02/2018: Danish String Quartet rewards its patrons with rugged beauty
….In music by Bartók and Beethoven, these players mustered a degree of expressive unanimity and rhythmic sleekness that were astonishing to witness.
Those technical achievements, in turn, were put to the service of impeccably conceived readings of these familiar works. Bartók’s String Quartet No. 1, with its gradual heightening (of both tempo and emotional intensity) across three movements, charted its course with unerring specificity, from the sepulchral, sinuous lines of the opening fugue to the burst of high spirits with which the piece concludes.
And in Beethoven’s F-Major Quartet, Op. 59, No. 1, the ensemble layered a woody veneer on its sonority that made every section of the piece — from the vigorously dramatic opening through the broad-beamed slow movement and into the final treatment of a Russian folk melody — sound at once lively and profound. Joshua Kosman - Article
Classical Modern Music.blogspot.be 16/11/2017 : Danish String Quartet CD Last Leaf
….For this new album they devote their attention to Nordic folk forms, specially created arrangements of elaborate folk fiddling and songful artfulnesses, some going back countless eons, whether Christmas tunes or dance fare. There is a unity of mood and purpose in the entire program overall, one that shows the Quartet to have notable virtuoso abilities and a beautiful tone blend born of the sensitive adjustment of instrumentalist to instrumentalist.
… the Danish String Quartet creates a program that respectfully explores folk terrain as it transforms it into quartet music, in a re-creative act that takes it all further beyond itself without losing the fresh charm of its reiterative venerability, something new emerging from a misty, not really hoary past. Grego Applegate Edwards - Review in full
NPR.org 12/12/2017 : The 50 Best Albums Of 2017 : Danish String Quartet - CD Last Leaf
You don't have to be a Scandinavian musicologist to fall in love with Last Leaf, the Danish String Quartet's new album of Nordic folk songs and dances. The fact that the atmospheric "Drømte mig en drøm" (I Dreamed a Dream) is over 700 years old and the rollicking "Stædelil" is based on a Faroese medieval ballad later reworked by Beethoven is not as important as the fluency and grace that infuses these blithesome performances. … The band stays busy playing Brahms and Haydn — and even contemporary composers like Thomas Adès and Hans Abrahamsen, featured on a superb album released last year. But when it comes to the simple idea of a classical string quartet performing folk tunes, the Danish musicians have exceeded all expectations. Tom Huizenga - Article
Theater Jones 21/10/2017 : Fantastic Four - The Danish String Quartet opens the Dallas Chamber Music Society season with exemplary ensemble work and intonation.
Dallas - The Danish String Quartet presented a near flawless performance for the Dallas Chamber Music Society at Southern Methodist University’s Caruth …
…, the Danish Quartet delivered an impeccable performance of everything on the program. Intonation, bowing and ensemble were as perfect as humans can achieve.
What is remarkable is that they rarely refered to each other for starts or other musical cues as they performed. They must have some kind on ESP going on, or maybe a Vulcan Mind Meld. Maybe it is the result of playing together all over the world for 17 years, but it must be something more than that. No matter how it was achieved, it produced a remarkable performance that sounded like there was only one player. This also helped them to achieve the noteworthy clarity of lines, so important in the contrapuntal writing of both composers (more about that later).
Anther striking thing about their performance is the extraordinary legato that they achieve. It sounds like they have a circular bow.
As to intonation, it was immediately obvious that the same ESP applies to carefully matching pitches. It is rare to hear such dead-on intonation and, at intermission, nearly everyone was commenting on it. T.J. - Article
Evening Standard Arts 10/01/2017 :A night of Scandi blue dreaming
The Danish String Quartet's outlined the ambiguities of Alfred Schnittke's music without any exaggeration,…
Perhaps it was because the musicians were the Danish String Quartet, but last night’s performance of Alfred Schnittke’s Third String Quartet seemed like the soundtrack for a Scandi noir thriller….
The DSQ outlined Schnittke’s mysterious ambiguities without any exaggeration. It made a startling contrast with the Haydn that preceded it. Here, the players blended smoothly without any loss of individuality. The second movement proved particularly alluring, the first violin injecting a folkish tinge, as if lamenting lost love, while the other instruments sighed sympathetically.
First and second violins swapped roles for Beethoven’s second “Razumovsky” quartet. At first the playing seemed a little too poised, but the second movement gathered momentum, the third movement’s dancing rhythms were laid out with real swagger, then as all four players dug a little deeper, the final movement had some pleasingly rough edges. Nick Kimberley - Article
The Guardian 28/09/2017 : Last Leaf CD review – lissom classical folk
With their first folk album, Wood Works, the Danish String Quartet set themselves apart from most cases of classical-musicians-going-folky. Clearly they weren’t faking their polskas; leader Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen also plays with folk trio Dreamers’ Circus, and cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin contributes several fine self-penned tunes to the quartet’s latest collection of Nordic folk material. Melodically it is a beautiful set, ranging from traditional Faroese ballads to bittersweet waltzes, and there’s no question the band can play: the sound is lissom, polished, flawless. But all the glossiness doesn’t sit quite right. The arrangements go in for rousing harmonies, silky textures and big builds, which sanitises the character of the tunes and straightens out the kinks. They hurtle through reels, playing fast because they can. Kate Molleson - Article
Highresaudio.com 22/09/2017: Danish String Quartet - Last Leaf
…These four musicians take hold of their quartet sound, trained for making classical music and cultivated in concert halls, when they devote themselves to jazz or, as in the case of their latest album Last Leaf Folk, to folk songs. Whatever the repertoire of this quartet, as in the case of their new album Scandinavian folk songs, the credibility of their work is always guaranteed. There is nothing superimposed or artificial. At any time, the Danes give the listener the impression of coherence, which is not least attained by the consistently outstanding arrangements of the songs.
Last Leaf is an album that by means of its songs communicates a unique calmness. …
The atmosphere the Danish String Quartet produces for the most part historical folksong-masterpieces is simply stunning. In addition to original naïvely resounding items, there are to admire surprisingly appearing, musically refined sounding items, touching the listener and making him curious about the next song. Regardless of the mostly quietly passing songs, a tension builds up that captures the listener and requires immediate repetition after having played the album.
Last Leaf is the most fascinating and successful attempt to translate Nordic folklore into the sound world of classical music. This album is a real must-have, … Article
Norwegianamerican.com 22/09/2017: “Last Leaf” is fresh
This is the recording you’ve been looking for: fresh, gorgeous, and unmistakably Nordic.
The Danish String Quartet, famous for unusual programming and folk influences as well as unimpeachable technical chops, has recrafted 16 pieces of beautiful folk music into an exquisitely played new recording, Last Leaf.…These sneakily charming tracks are so lyrical and so inventive that you may find yourself returning again and again to sample them. The folk-tune sources are always clear in the melodic structure, which is given a harmonic underpinning that may surprise those acquainted with the originals. Somehow this music manages to be gently naïve and musically sophisticated all at once. Melinda Bargreen - Article
Ottawa Citizen 1/08/2016: Quartet conquers Ottawa with talent
Per Norgard 1st String Quartet - …the ensemble gave high definition to the angular rhythms and frosty, vertical lines.
Mendelssohn wrote his String Quartet No. 2 -… The quartet played the slow opening theme with tender, melting affection. The contrast between quiet despair and loving fondness was beautifully delineated; the end of the first movement, when the First Violin stops playing before the other three instruments, had the dramatic finality of an abrupt departure. The fugue sections in the second movement offered a master class in how to convey Romantic freedom and softness within a rigid structure. Frederik Oland’s stunning violin solos in the last movement were as impassioned as a Bellini aria.
In Beethoven’s late String Quartet No. 12, the quartet flexed its intellectual muscle, showing an exceptionally lucid grasp of structure and inner narrative. - Natasha Gauthier - Full article
Pizzicato.lu 18/07/2016 : Atmende Quartette CD Adès/Nørgård/Abrahamsen
Das große Charakteristikum des ‘Danish String Quartet’ ist die Menschlichkeit und die Seele in ihrem Musizieren. Dies wird hauptsächlich erreicht durch ein kontinuierliches und einheitliches Atmen, welches die Musik gliedert und einen fortlaufenden Fluss schafft. Das angestrebte Ideal scheint der Gesang zu sein, so dass die Instrumentalstimmen regelrecht wie gesungen wirken. So wird auch zu keiner Zeit das Extrem statisch ausgeschöpft, weder schreiend laut noch unhörbar leise, weder überstürzt nach vorne drängend noch verschleppt. Alles erklingt aus der Ruhe und dem Nichts heraus, beinahe in einem meditativen Zustand und durchweg von innen erfühlt. Das ‘Danish String Quartet’ erlebt die Musik in deren Kern und bewegt sich jenseits alles Überkünstelten, woraus ein authentisches Hörerlebnis entsteht.
The Danish String Quartet performs three first string quartets by Thomas Adès, Per Nørgård and Hans Abrahamsen, mesmerizing the listener with an inwardly felt and naturally breathing musicianship emerging from authentically experienced silence. - Oliver Fraenzke - Full article
Gramophone June 2016: CD Adès, Nørgaard & Abrahamsen
….the Danish are remarkable, as ever – capable of intense blend, extreme dynamic variation (in which they seem glued together), perfect intonation even on harmonics, and constant vitality and flow. - Andrew Mellor
Classicalmodernmusic.be 3/05/2016: CD Thomas Adès, Per Norgard, Hans Abrahamsen
Each of the works was written when the respective composer was still relatively young, in his 20s. Each shows a vibrant sonarity and a strong sense of form; each shares a kind of modern, youthful expressive quality that the Danish String Quartet brings out with lyrical care and fine detail.
The Danish String Quartet shows us masterfully coherent readings of the works, a syntactical flowering born of strict attention to the dynamic and coloristic demands of each composer and the quartet's own artistic togetherness of purpose.
It is a tribute to the outstanding artistry of the Danish String Quartet. The performances help us experience directly the subtleties of these works. Very recommended. - Grego Applegate Edwards - Full article
Guardian 21/04/2016: Adès/Nørgard/Abrahamsen: Works for String Quartet – grace and grit
Among all the dauntingly good young string quartets currently doing the rounds, the Danish String Quartet stand out: not because they’re shinier or plusher or pushier than the rest, but because of their nimble charisma, stylish repertoire and the way their light and grainy shading can turn on a dime.
…. It’s an exacting programme requiring grace, grit and clarity and the Danish players sound terrific – lithe and glassy in the Abrahamsen, richer in the Nørgard, able to capture the picturesque watery shimmer of the Adès but also the slime and murk below the surface. It’s a sophisticated performance. - Kate Molleson – Full article
Santa Barbara Independent 10/03/2016: Danish String Quartet at UCSB
When they touched down at UCSB’s Campbell Hall on Tuesday, March 1, it was easy to see (and hear) why the Danish String Quartet have become one of the hottest attractions on the international classical circuit. Fredrik Oland, Rune Tonsgaard Sorenson, Asbjorn Norgaard, and Fredrik Schoyen Sjolin may have the hipster good looks of a stylish rock band, but their performance is rooted in a tradition of string quartet practice that goes back centuries. By bringing the freshness, vigor, and even irreverence of youth to elegant, sophisticated renditions of important works from the string quartet repertoire, they are uniting a new audience of people their own age and younger with those who have long cherished this music.
…The String Quartet No. 1 “The Kreutzer Sonata” of Leos Janáček followed, and listeners were ravished by the group’s masterful command of the composer’s abstract narrative art. The evening’s highlight came last, as the performance of Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 13 was consistently thrilling and brought out all the mixed emotions promised from the beginning. - Charles Donelan – Full article
The Classical Review 23/02/2016: Danish String Quartet closes CMS Beethoven cycle with revelatory simplicity
…From the opening few bars, the specialness of the performance was clear; the Danish quartet’s sound was gorgeous, and their attention to the expressive riches of dynamics and phrasing was ravishing. They played the music with as beautiful a sound and shape as they could give it, yet with a self-effacing simplicity—it seemed like Beethoven was playing them.
…Few quartets manage to keep such a lithe and perfectly ordered pulse going underneath the violin syncopation as the Danes did. Their playing for the entire Op. 135 Quartet had extraordinary balance and clarity. …The performances throughout the evening offered a rare instance of musicians delivering the quality of the sublime that is in Beethoven’s late music. Deaf and increasingly ill, the music is both wildly mercurial and organically logical.
… The Danish String Quartet captured this in an ideal and revelatory way — the profound intellectual and emotional intensity of Beethoven conveyed in a vessel of beautiful simplicity.- George Grella – Full article
Buffalo.com 17/02/2016: Danish String Quartet performs memorable concert in Mary Seaton Room
…This was one of those concerts where the attendees will remember with fondness and perhaps even awe. The program was well thought out, the playing was marvelous, and everything that could go right, did.
…One thing for sure though was that the group delivered on all counts and, if it ever comes to town again, chamber music fans should make their plans to attend. Really. They’re that good. - Garaud MacTaggart - – Full article