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Review DANISH STRING QUARTET
 

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

New York Times 13/11/2015: Danish String Quartet Plays at the Rose Studio
The young players of the superb Danish String Quartet have been performing the four quartets by Denmark’s own Carl Nielsen ever since their student days. Yet these players had never performed all four on a single program until Thursday evening at the intimate Rose Studio, in a concert presented by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
…What they do know is how to be an exceptional quartet, whatever repertory they play. In this commanding account of the Third Quartet, the first movement sounded like music trying to be an exuberant late-Romantic Allegro, but roughed up by modernist jolts and sudden shifts. The slow movement unfolded with glowing sound and smoothness. The final two movements were slyly playful, especially the finale, a wild-eyed rustic dance. - Anthony Tommasini

Calgary Herald 9/11/2015:Boyish Danish String Quartet all business on stage
Most of the music in this concert was of the kind that makes its musical points when performed with ultra refinement, pliancy of phrasing and tone, and a sense of reflection. In music of this type, the Danish Quartet has no peer.
Haydn String Quartet in C major, Op. 54, No. 2 - …The performance was a lesson in how to penetrate into Haydn’s unique musical world, filled with articulated musical classic-period grammar and humour. The balance and good taste in projecting these musical values was on full display here, the humanity of Haydn’s music coming through at all times.
This was especially notable in the unique slow movement and in the quirky finale, both of which emerged as special and crafted with real individuality. The syntax of Classic period music, so difficult to find in performances these days, was the strongest side of this performance, making The Danish String Quartet one of the current masters of this style of music.
Beethoven’s final string quartet (Op. 135), which, like the opening work, found the players in excellent form. …, this quartet, was the perfect vehicle to showcase what the Danish Quartet does so exceptionally well — perfect balance within the individuality of the players, and with the emphasis upon lyricism.  But there was energy and good humour here as well as, including a fine projection of Beethoven’s wry wit in the final movement. … It was a concert to treasure. - Kenneth Delong

www.bostonglobe.com 12/08/2015: Danish String Quartet’s ambitious program proves rewarding
Even among the large crop of superb youngish string quartets  the Danish String Quartet stands out. The quartet’s dark, velvety sound was apparent in two of Mendelssohn’s Four Pieces for String Quartet (Op. 81), making them sound unusually tender. It also made the gentle opening of Shostakovich’s Ninth Quartet into a comfortingly nostalgic dream. But when the music turned bitter and impassioned, the quartet’s sound quickly became more acerbic thanks to Oland’s slashing interjections from the second chair, a perfect foil to Sorensen’s mellower tone. The finale, a juggernaut that reaches hard-won victory only after ardent struggle, was electric.
Alfred Schnittke’s Third Quartet was the evening’s most impressive achievement, … The DSQ’s performance was impassioned, precise, and brilliant in ways both technical and conceptual. …
Do not lose track of this group: Even by today’s high standards, it offers something very special. - David Weininger

www.nytimes.com 9/08/2015: Stately Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, a Brave Danish String Quartet
The festival did offer a real musical adventure on Friday, up in the intimate, inviting Kaplan Penthouse. There, the exciting young players of the Danish String Quartet made their Mostly Mozart debut as part of A Little Night Music, …This ensemble has won many fans in New York of late, thanks to its association with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. At the Kaplan the quartet played an intriguing program: two Fugues from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, arranged for string quartet by Mozart; Thomas Adès’s “Arcadiana,” a rapturously strange and engrossing work composed in 1994; and, to end, Beethoven’s visionary and slightly crazed Grosse Fuge, played here with such conviction and command that this thorny late piece sounded utterly exhilarating, even playful at times. - Anthony Tomasini                                        

www.ottawacitizen.com 6/08/2015: Danish String Quartet a study in Nordic elegance
The Danish String Quartet, which was making its Ottawa debut, is one of the most enthusiastically promoted groups to come out of Europe in the past decade. The sound is refreshingly tart, flinty, lean but cutting as a North Sea breeze. The musicality is courtly, but never stiff or unenlightened, and there is a willingness to question received interpretations and traditions without being disrespectful.
Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 1 was all worldly elegance, poise, and balletic lightness. The second movement displayed sincere, delicate emotion, without sentimentality. There was exceptionally fine, glowing playing …
Carl Nielsen String Quartet No. 1 received an affectionate embrace of a performance. The first movement brimmed with restless longing; the sun-flecked andante was played with touching tenderness and simplicity.
Alfred Schnittke’s tortured String Quartet No. 3 was the clear highlight of the evening. The quartet’s slender, astringent sound was especially effective at conveying the work’s oppressive feeling of dread — those glissandi in the first movement sounded like air raid sirens — and the dense, bleak harmonic writing came into seldom-heard sharp relief. … The illumination was like a police search light coming through a stained-glass window. - Natasha Gauthier

www.bachtrack.com 23/06/2015: A toe-tapping performance from the Danish Quartet
The most impressive aspect of the ensemble was the way in which its interpretations were considered and steadfast but without losing any vitality. Equally admirable was the bond between members: passages in which two or more players were in harmony or octaves were rendered immaculately, and the clarity of texture which they brought to the music was particularly effective in the Beethoven. The quartet's athletic sound suited the vigour of the music, with surges of intensity to highlight the transitions in Nielsen's outer movements. The sinking harmonic progressions in the second movement were given warmth and breadth, balancing spaciousness and intimacy.
The second half brought a more festive mood. …Nordic folk song arrangements - ….While the quartet's classical training still took precedence – individual phrases in a waltz were neatly rounded off with diminuendi – a rawness underpinned the playing. The ensemble's enjoyment was infectious, and their flair couldn't help but bring a smile to one's face – definitely a quartet to watch. - Katy Wright

www.standard.co.uk 23/06/2015: Danish String Quartet: adventurous and infectiously enjoyable
….The members of the Danish String Quartet, they were there to launch the City of London Festival, which they proceeded to do with panache. Beethoven’s String Quartet, op. 74, which certainly served to establish their credentials as an ensemble of exceptional accomplishment.
Carl Nielsen String Quartet, op. 5 in F minor -… they made an eloquent case for it, relishing its affecting lyricism and rugged stylistic innovations alike. …The ensemble delivered the work with the impulsive spontaneity required.
…, they succeeded in carrying the audience after the interval with something even more unexpected, in the shape of Nordic folk pieces they had arranged themselves.
Taking their bow at the end, the players seemed genuinely delighted that these pieces which they have discovered and presented anew gave as much pleasure to their audience as to themselves.  Adventurous, unfamiliar and infectiously enjoyable: perfect festival fare. - Barry Millington

Classicalsource.com 22/06/2015: Danish String Quartet at City of London Festival
…This was an excellent recital by an ensemble whose UK appearances will hopefully become more frequent on the basis of this well-received event. The musicians returned for an arrangement of the chorale from the finale of Nielsen’s Wind Quintet, making a poised and affecting encore. - Richard Whitehouse

www.seenandheard-international.com 23/05/2015: String Quartet Champions a Fellow Countryman in Dresden
Carl Nielsen String Quartet No. 1 - …The Quartet was more than a match for the predominantly squally G minor score, turbulent with an abundance of passion.  In the lyrical Andante with its Beethoven sounding opening the quartet bought out the aching melancholy, playing with a steely determination in the contrastingly bold central section. After the applause had died down there was sense of disappointment that the quartet was not playing another of the Nielsen cycle. - M. Cookson

American Record Guido March/April 2015: Danish String Quartet in New York
From the first chord of Debussy’s quartet, I knew that perfection of ensemble and unanimity of interpretation would characterize the evening’s performance. …It was a memorable, strong account of one of  the masterpieces of the literature. The hushed, barely audible ending of the third movement was revelatory, with all four man making judicious use of theirs mutes. The final was a rainbow of colors and textures; as Debussy wrote, “Any sounds in any combination and in any succession are henceforth free to be used in a musical continuity”.
Pianist Gilles Vonsattel joined in for the other work ont the program, Louis Vierné’s Piano Quintet…..The musical depth the Danes and Vonsattel brought were astonishing. … - James Harrington

www.nytimes.com  22/02/2015: Danish String Quartet at Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center - Alice Tully Hall
…From the start of the opening work, Haydn’s Quartet in C (Op. 54, No. 2), to its hushed ending, the group exhibited a remarkable smoothness and balance that left ample room for strong individuality. Alert to Haydn’s many surprises and twists, the players lent a deeply, almost comically, tragic cast to the little trio section of the Menuetto.
Carl Nielsen Quartet No. 4. Here the individuality came to the fore in an imaginative display of tone colors, the quartet making a wholly persuasive case for a powerful work seldom heard hereabouts.
Brahms Piano Quintet - …Scherzo and the Finale seemed to pull the performers together in common purpose and passion, bringing the concert to a triumphal conclusion.-  James R. Oestreich

www. audaud.com 18/11/2014:CD “Wood Works” The Danish String Quartet
Beautifully-played arrangements for string quartet of Nordic folk music.…Wood Works is a collection of Nordic folk tunes arranged for string quartet. …These are passionate performances and melodies you will remember long after the disc has been put away.
…The 13 tracks are a cohesive program, and I won’t comment track-by-track, except to say each piece is played with precision and emotion. I thought a standout track is the emotional Waltz after Lasse in Lyby, which is exceedingly beautiful in performance by the Danes. - Mel Martin

Washington Post: 17/10/2014: Fastidious playing..
Mendelssohn’s “Capriccio” - …in the fiery fugue, the virtuosity of passagework and balancing of voices were simply stunning. If achieved at the expense of a true fortissimo, it was still a good trade.
Shostakovich quartet (nr 9) -… the Danish was particularly fine, everything lining up. Bow strokes were matched to the centimeter, and the entire thing was a tour de force of quartet discipline..
Beethoven’s Op. 131 - …no performance can capture everything. But here again, the scrupulous detail (one of the few renditions I’ve heard that made a real effort to execute Beethoven’s seemingly crazy dynamics), the unanimity of interpretation and the cleanliness of the ensemble were outstanding. While the opening fugue and the penultimate movement could have been a little less dirgelike, the imagination and impish interplay in the scherzo were delightful. It was a memorable performance, and while the season is young, this concert is likely to be one of its true highlights. - Robert Battey. Full article 

Hyde Park Herald 17/10/2014: Daring Danes Deliver
Violinists Frederik Øland and Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen, violist Asbjørn Nørgaard and cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin were thrilling in performances of works by Haydn, Schubert and Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen.
Haydn’s String Quartet in F minor, Op. 20, No. 5. They had brisk tempos featuring long, lingering phases. The Menuetto had pleasing dark colors and the Adagio featured some very pretty work by first violinist Sørensen. The counterpoint in the final movement was expertly rendered as were the exciting dynamics.
Schubert’s String Quartet in G Major, D.887. The quartet brought tremendous energy and excitement with blooming phrases and crisp, perfect staccatos. They created well-drawn tension and had a remarkable unity throughout. It was enough to make for a perfect night, but they added yet one more pleasure: their encore was a pretty little Danish wedding song in an attractive arrangement both modern and timeless. - M.L. Rantala. Full article

www.chicagoclassicalreview.com 11/10/2014:Danish String Quartet opens UC Presents season with intense premiere
The Danish String Quartet made a largely impressive Chicago debut … The young chamber ensemble possesses a light, silvery sonority, one that proved eminently well suited to the opener, Haydn’s Quartet in F minor, Op. 20, no. 5. …The slender tone and slight astringency of the Danish Quartet’s sound added to the performance’s period feel, with a deft, gracious sensibility in the opening movement. The Adagio was particularly fine, with the drama manifest yet kept properly in scale, as first violinist Rune Tonsgaard Sorensen wove graceful arabesques above his colleagues. The pianissimo dynamics were closely observed in the fugal finale, light off the bow, with the sudden jump to fortissimo making firm impact.
Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen String Quartet No. 7  -…this is difficult and demanding music to tackle and was played to the hilt by the Danish quartet members who were warmly applauded by the adventurous Mandel Hall audience.
….An encore of the tuneful Sonderho Bridal Trilogy Part II from the Danish Quartet’s new CD of Scandinavian folk music made a fine apertif to a largely impressive evening of music by the personable young Danes. - Lawrence A. Johnson. Full article

www.sinfinimusic.com/uk 18/09/2014: CD Review Wood Works
Every now and then a disc creeps into your ears and stages a peaceful protest, politely but determinedly refusing to leave. The Danish String Quartet's delicious new album Wood Works is one such — a quietly innovative and unexpected delight, whose charms only grow as the music unfolds track by track. …. And the playing? There’s a reason that New Yorker music critic Alex Ross is a fan of the group, who are currently participating in the prestigious Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Centre’s Two programme. The Danish String Quartet are definitely ones to watch — or listen — out for. - Alexandra Coghlan

New York Times 10/02/2014: Sometimes, Even the Young Know When to Slow Down
Danish String Quartet at Alice Tully Hall
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center has a hit ensemble on its hands with the remarkable Danish String Quartet. This season the group began a three-year residency with the society’s CMS Two program for outstanding younger performers. …
Sunday I was struck especially by the way these musicians play with a unanimity that must be a result of hard work but comes across as intuitive. …They are also excellent at revealing the emotional subtext of the music. In the second movement of Beethoven’s Quartet No. 11, Mr. Sjolin brought a touch of stealthy danger to the seemingly innocent, descending solo phrase for cello that opens the second movement.
A YouTube video of the Danish String Quartet shows the group in a BBC studio playing the magisterial first movement of Beethoven’s Opus 132 dressed in tattered jeans and T-shirts. You would have thought the musicians were still playing the piece informally on Sunday from the assurance and ease of their performance. They kept the tempo reined in a little during the quizzical second movement, allowing the strangeness of the succession of seemingly genial phrases to come through on its own. They brought glowing sound and mystical serenity to the great slow movement, a holy song of thanks.
The standing ovation was immediate and ardent. - Anthony Tommasini

 

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