Danish String Quartet
Wednesday, October 26, 2022 | 7:30pm
Herbst TheatreVenue Information
About This Performance
“Combining the old with the new, the Danish String Quartet have set sail on a joyous voyage” (Bachtrack.com). They look like they could be characters from Game of Thrones, but instead of marauding, they bring a sense of adventure to a wide range of music. The New York Times declares them “an exceptional quartet, whatever they play.”
MOZART: Divertimento in F Major, K. 138 and String Quartet in E-Flat Major, K. 428
BRITTEN: Three Divertimenti for String Quartet
SCHUMANN: String Quartet in A Major, Op. 41, No. 3
Among today’s many exceptional chamber music groups, the Grammy® nominated Danish String Quartet continuously asserts its preeminence. The Quartet’s playing reflects impeccable musicianship, sophisticated artistry, exquisite clarity of ensemble, and, above all, an expressivity inextricably bound to the music, from Haydn to Shostakovich to contemporary scores. Performances bring a rare musical spontaneity, giving audiences the sense of hearing even treasured canon repertoire as if for the first time, and exuding a palpable joy in music-making that have made them enormously in-demand on concert stages throughout the world. The recipient of many awards and prestigious appointments, including Musical America’s 2020 Ensemble of the Year and the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, the Danish String Quartet was named in 2013 as BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists and appointed to the The Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two).
In 2021–22, the Danish String Quartet introduce DOPPELGÄNGER, an ambitious 4-year international commissioning project. DOPPELGÄNGER pairs world premieres from four renowned composers—Bent Sørensen, Lotta Wennäkoski, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, and Thomas Adès—with four major works from the masterful chamber music repertoire of Schubert. Each season, the Danish String Quartet will perform a world premiere on a program with its doppelgänger—the Schubert quartet or quintet that inspired it—culminating in the premiere of a quintet by Adès, after the great String Quintet in C Major.
The DOPPELGÄNGER pieces are commissioned by the Danish String Quartet with the support of Carnegie Hall, Cal Performances, UC Santa Barbara Arts & Lectures, Vancouver Recital Society, Flagey in Brussels, and Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam. The first commission, composed by Bent Sørensen and inspired by Schubert’s quartet in G Major (D.887), is scheduled to premiere in 2021.
In addition to performances of DOPPELGÄNGER, the Danish String Quartet gives over 20 performances throughout North America in the 2021-2022 season. Highlights include debuts at the University of Georgia, Virginia Tech’s Moss Arts Center, Shriver Hall, and Virginia Arts Festival, return trips to Boston’s Celebrity Series, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Ensemble Music Society of Indianapolis, Chamber Music Cincinnati, and University of Washington’s Meany Hall, and a tour of Florida. European highlights include tours of Denmark, France, Germany, and Amsterdam.
As part of a multi-year residency, the Danish String Quartet brought a series of five concerts, which mirror the programs in its ongoing recording project with ECM New Series, PRISM, to La Jolla Music Society in November 2019. Each PRISM program is an exploration of the symbiotic musical and contextual relationships between Bach fugues, Beethoven string quartets, and works by Shostakovich, Schnittke, Bartok, Mendelssohn, and Webern, forming an expertly curated musical evolution within each individual program and across the entire PRISM repertory. Prism I, the first disc of this five-album project for the ECM label, was released in September 2018 and garnered a Grammy® nomination in the category of Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance for the group’s recordings of Beethoven’s Op. 127 in E-flat Major, Bach’s Fugue in E-flat Major (arranged by Mozart), and Shostakovich’s final string quartet, No. 15 in E-flat Minor. Prism II was released in September 2019 to rave reviews, including a five-star review from BBC Music Magazine, “Best Classical Music of 2019” from New York Times, and “Classical Music You Must Hear” from Apple Music. Prism III—featuring Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 13, Op. 131, Bartók’s String Quartet No. 1, and Bach’s Fugue in C-sharp Minor, BWV 849 from The Well-Tempered Clavier—was released in March 2021.
The group takes an active role in reaching new audiences through special projects. In 2007, they established the DSQ Festival, which takes place in an intimate and informal setting at Copenhagen’s Bygningskulturens Hus. The 2020 DSQ Festival featured an array of meticulously curated programs including such guests as violinist Malin William-Olsson, cellist Andreas Brantelid, and pianist Marianna Shirinyan. In 2016, they inaugurated a new music festival, Series of Four, in which they both perform and invite colleagues—the Ebène Quartet, mandolin player Chris Thile, among others—to appear at the venerable Danish Radio Concert Hall. Concerts this season featured collaborations with iconic Scandinavian artists including Andreas Brantelid, Lars Ulrik Mortensen, and the Danish National Girls Choir.
The Danish String Quartet has received numerous citations and prizes, including First Prize in the Vagn Holmboe String Quartet Competition and the Charles Hennen International Chamber Music Competition in the Netherlands, as well as the Audience Prize at the Trondheim International String Quartet Competition in 2005. In 2009, the Danish String Quartet won First Prize in the 11th London International String Quartet Competition, now known as the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet competition, and return to the celebrated London concert hall frequently. The Quartet was the awarded the 2010 NORDMETALL-Ensemble Prize at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival in Germany, and in 2011, they received the Carl Nielsen Prize, the highest cultural honor in Denmark.
Violinists Frederik Øland and Rune Tonsgaard Sørenson and violist Asbjørn Nørgaard met as children at a music summer camp where they played soccer and made music together. As teenagers, they began the study of classical chamber music and were mentored by Tim Frederiksen of Copenhagen’s Royal Danish Academy of Music. In 2008, the three Danes were joined by Norwegian cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin.