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
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