Cadenza.nyc 19/02/2020: Danish String Quartet's Electric and Ecstatic Late Beethoven
..The melancholy fugue that opens the monumental Quartet in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131, emerges from the Danish String Quartet with their vibrato perfectly in sync. From dusky sighs of resignation to a wailing cry of desperation, the ensemble shapes the movement with patience and emotional ambition. The six movements unfolding continuously from there reward that patience with moments of intense release, and balance that emotional ambition with sour humor and bristling anger.
.... The Quartet’s breakneck tempo highlights the movement’s manic quality. When the players — in what was an avant-garde technique in Beethoven’s time — all bow sul ponticello, we hear a ghost, suddenly appearing from another plane of the universe, then quickly rushing back to earth, jolting us back to reality. For a moment, it felt like the air in Alice Tully Hall had been sucked out in a vacuum, taking our breath away.
The Quartet in F Major, Op. 135 - …Here too, the Danish String Quartet plays with virtuosic electricity, witty humor, and in the slow movement, Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo, lyrical directness and simplicity. The audience, many of whom had witnessed the quartet’s complete cycle, leapt to their feet in gratitude. Like a pair of great plays that encapsulate the universe of human experience, it was an evening to be savored and contemplated. Brian Taylor – Review in full
NYTimes 19/02/2020: Beethoven at 250 - A Quartet Sets a New Standard for Beethoven Marathons
17 Works, 9 Hours, 10 Days
From the first phrase of the opening work, the Quartet in D (Op. 18, No. 3), the blissfully lyrical violin melody, soaring over seemingly supportive harmonies in the other strings, sounded cozy and alluring, …
It’s difficult to explain what makes the Danish String Quartet’s playing so special. Other ensembles arguably match these players in technical excellence and interpretive insight. To say that their performances represent a marvelous balancing of qualities suggests that they occupy some place in the middle of the road. The results are anything but: There is a winning mix of studied concentration and willful freedom in their playing… That came through during this entire series.
Their technical command resulted in precise execution. Yet they played with enough leeway to allow instinctive responses to take over in the moment. You might assume that musicians in their 30s would bring youthful energy to bear, but I was struck by how often they opted for a raptly restrained tempo. Rhythms were dispatched with clarity and exactitude, without a trace of rigidity.
They have a shared sensibility and richly blended sound. But that doesn’t stop their individual musical characters from continuously shining through….
They ended the Quartet No. 13 in B-flat (Op. 130) with the original finale, the Grosse Fuge, … That section still comes across like the fugue to end all fugues, with outbursts of sputtering rhythms, obsessively hammered attacks and tangles of wayward counterpoint. As played here it sounded audacious, extreme and, finally, exhilarating. Anthony Tommasini – Review in full
Vulture.com 13/02/2020: Why I’d Rather Hear the Danish String Quartet Than Any Other Foursome
Midway along the Danish String Quartet’s journey through Beethoven’s life, the players led the audience into a dark wood. The ninth quartet (Op. 59, No. 3) opens in dissonant despair, each crushing chord dropping inexorably onto the next. Then, in a classic feint, the apparently endless slough suddenly opens into a bright C major clearing. When the Danes pivoted from gorgeous misery to a blithe dance, you could practically hear the audience in Alice Tully Hall gasp in relief. The players delivered each phrase as an utterance that had just sprung to mind. They seemed genuinely curious to know what came next, to keep up with the composer’s mercurial thoughts.
…Performing the complete Beethoven quartets in 11 days is a maven’s mountain. This series, presented by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, is packed with listeners who can compare and contrast these performances with those of the Juilliard, Tokyo, Berg, and Emerson Quartets. The Danes seemed unfazed by all the reverence.
….The midpoint concert ended with the final fugue of the C Major quartet (Op. 59, No. 3), executed at fighter jet speeds with an astounding mixture of nonchalance and intensity. The separate strands unspooled, overlapped, and intertwined, the notes slipping through their fingers like tiny knots, so that it seemed like the whole thing would have to end in an exhilarating tangle on the floor. When they were done, the audience jumped with the thrill of having witnessed such a thing. And so the group sat down and played the movement again as an encore, as if to say: We could do this all night. We’re still the last guys standing. Justin Davidson – Review in full
New Yorker Magazine 25/11/2019 : The Pristine Empire of ECM Records
The Danes are, in fact, musicians of impeccable refinement, and the first two “Prism” releases suggest a major cycle in the making. Each disk sets Beethoven alongside a later composer: “Prism I” pairs the Opus 127 Quartet with Shostakovich’s spectral Fifteenth Quartet; “Prism II” places Opus 130 next to Alfred Schnittke’s fraught Third Quartet. There is nothing novel in pointing out the visionary quality of late Beethoven. Yet the Danes complicate the narrative by including, at the start of each installment, an arrangement of a fugue by Bach, thereby emphasizing not only Beethoven’s premonitions of the future but also his consciousness of the past. ….
Not unexpectedly, the members of the Danish Quartet bring tonal heft and rhythmic vigor to the proceedings. Their Beethoven is no cosmic enigma: you register the physicality of his stomping ostinatos, the off-kilter drive of his dance movements, the playful abruptness of his stylistic transitions. …
At the same time, the Danes have no trouble stepping outside worldly realms and into zones of rapt contemplation. The Adagio of Opus 127 is taken at a riskily slow tempo, yet it unfolds in long-breathed lyric arcs. The Cavatina of Opus 130 is steeped in unaffected Old World style, with throaty portamento slides from note to note. The wrenching section marked “beklemmt”—oppressed, anguished—curls inward toward silence, with bows brushing on the strings in whispered gasps. The great hymnal chords that underpin these slow movements are tuned with extraordinary care, delivering a chiaroscuro of resonance. Alex Ross – Review in full
Stringsmagazine.com 14/11/2019 : A Prismatic Program from the Danish String Quartet
…The Danish’s admirable balance of voices made the sudden shift into the dark, barren landscape of the Shostakovich all the more arresting, beginning with the threadbare tones of violinists Frederik Øland and Tonsgaard Sørensen in the most minimal of dialogues. Norwegian cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin laid out lean pedal tones that added to the effect of a vast, empty space, with impenetrable darkness looming beyond.
All six movements of Op. 144 are adagios. …The effect was at times hypnotizing, yet this never dulled into a generically lugubrious uniformity. ...Most striking of all in this remarkably concentrated performance was the paradoxical sense of a dusky beauty that the players conveyed, despite—or, really, by virtue of the music’s unswerving bleakness. …
Nørgaard and his colleagues illustrated the point in a splendid performance of the Beethoven that was rewarding on several levels. The opening ensemble of chords seemed to explode with colors that were subsequently unfurled in the Allegro’s long-spun melodic line. The distinctive polish and sheen of their sound emerged from nuances, not from a smoothing over of textures into a homogeneous “beauty.”
Such a richly satisfying and fulfilling performance required no encore, but the Danish treated the audience to a tender lagniappe, playing their arrangement of a Carl Nielsen song. Thomas May – Review in full
FonoForum 10/10/2019 : Danish String Quartet | Prism II - Bach - Schnittke - Beethoven
…Schon hier, bei Schnittke, demonstriert das Danish String Quartet die von ihm bekannte Flexibilität im Klang, mit einer Palette von vibratolosfahlen Farben bis zur brutalen Attacke.…. Die wunderbar innige Cavatina ist schließlich der Höhepunkt einer teilweise geradezu zärtlichen Interpretation. Marcus Stäbler - Resenzion
Nrc.nl 9/10/2019 : Danish String Quartet onder hoogspanning - Prism II
In de aanloop naar Beethovens 250ste geboortejaar brengt het Danish String Quartet een reeks van vijf cd’s uit, Prism, … Het eerste album, met Sjostakovitsj tussen Bach en Beethoven, werd in 2018 genomineerd voor een Grammy.
… Prism II staat van begin tot eind onder hoogspanning en vormt een feest van herkenning en associaties, gespeeld met ziedende intensiteit. Joep Stapel - Artikel
Ecm Reviews 25/11/2019: CD Prism II
Bach’s Fugue in B minor from Book I of The Well-Tempered Clavier, in an arrangement by Emanuel Aloys Förster - … Moving with tenderness and spiritual comportment, it touches a window of reflection into unknown futures, tracing patterns of suspension and transcendence.
Schnittke’s String Quartet No. 3 - …The opening Andante’s sirens move with grace and finality, even as they activate seeds that will one day grow into life. The contrast between stretches of quietude and heaves of mourning are transfixing. The middle movement’s self-refractive allusions are brilliantly examined, rendering Shostakovich-leaning textures and palpable flavors. The final movement, marked Pesante, returns to that keening quality of the first, treating every sonorous shift as a veil to be dyed and worn as a screen through which to view a monochromatic world.
Beethoven’s epical String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat major turns night into dawn. The opening stretch of landscape resolves into a jagged dance of joy. Its adjoining Presto even injects a bit of humor into the proceedings.
The 3 subsequent movements are like paintings in sound, each portraying the same scene from a different angle. The DSQ opts for the quartet’s original version, including the monumental Große Fuge (op. 133) as the finale. After a declamatory overture, it morphs into some of Beethoven’s most boisterous writing for the genre. A superb account in every way. Review in full
Highresaudio 22/09/2019: Danish String Quartet - PRISM II
…Anyone familiar with Bach's Fugue in B minor from the first book of the Well-Tempered Piano in the sober rendition by Glenn Gould will disbelieve when they hear the arrangement of Beethoven's contemporaries Emanuel Aloys Förster interpreted by the Danish String Quartet as the first piece on Prism II. It is not the completely different, elegiac sound of the strings that makes you stop, but the calm, infinitely relaxed, deeply sensitive approach of the Danes, who make Bach sound timelessly valid, contrary to Glenn Gould's modern, sober view.
Schnittke - ….In the 3rd String Quartet the allusions experience a kind of mounting in and processing of, among other things, quotations from Orlando di Lassos and the main theme of Beethoven's Great Fugue, whereby the bridge to Beethoven is built on PRISM II. …. Naturally trimmed for precision and temperament, the Danish String Quartet can deal perfectly with Beethoven's audacity embodied in the Great Fugue like few of its competitors. The light and darkness of the fugue are ideally staged on the basis of soft sound generation and also find their ideal counterpart in the preceding string quartet, which is interpreted as a prelude to the mighty finale in the form of the great fugue.
PRISM II proves to be a milestone in the still short history of the PRISM series by ECM with the well-placed, multi-faceted Danish String Quartet. Review in full
Sfcv.org 19/02/2019: A Haydn Quartet Is a Revelation in the Hands of the Danish
Beethoven quartet Op. 135 - …the Danish players played with both an eye for new emphases and a lot of heart. They brought out the beautiful intricacies of the slow movement, and heightened the drama of the interlude — “The Difficult Decision” — to the cheerful finale.
Haydn’s Quartet in C Major, Op. 20 No. 2 - … they played with convincing weight, as if to imitate the cello — who, himself, rose from the harmonic foundation to play the melody in a way that melded with the first violin. In the finale, a fugue, each line was given equal importance — and yet all was so light, everything sounded with perfect clarity, like a tiny music box.
Fluid phrasing made the monumental slow movement — aptly named Capriccio — practically operatic. The sweetness of the arias made even more brusque the sudden take-offs of the dotted rhythms, played in striking unisons that linger on diminished harmonies. Rebecca Wishnia - Article
Classicalpost.com January 2019 : the Most Innovative Instrumentalists category
The Nordic lads of the Danish String Quartet possess warmth, wit, a beautiful tone, and technical prowess second to none. They are also consumed by many different projects: The Series of Fours in the beautiful old Radio Hall in Copenhagen; indie classical music festival, DSQ Festival; showcasing some of the treasures of their Nordic music traditions; and a series of five Beethoven albums called PRISM, of which the first one just received a Grammy nomination. Their intrigue in all aspects of the classical music world is ambitious and exciting with many awaiting what the group will do next.
Musicweb-international.com December 2018: Recording of the month - Prism I
This is the first in a series of releases by the Danish String Quartet under the title ‘Prism’, each of which will present one of Beethoven’s late string quartets alongside a related fugue by J.S. Bach …
Poise, elegant restraint and an exacting adherence to the scores are the essence of this superb recording. Bach’s Fugue is played with appropriate reserve as a prelude to the Shostakovich. It could easily be more playful, but that’s not what this programme is about. Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 15 is a serious prospect, and the Danish Quartet plays with hardly any vibrato, the long opening Elegy a moment in time suspended to a kind of infinity. Lack of vibrato should not be confused with a lack of expression here however. This playing has a purity that takes us deeply into Shostakovich’s melancholy mood, and the subtle touches of vibrato we are given heighten this effect while delivering the essence of the music rather than showcasing the players.
Beethoven Quartet No. 12 in E-flat major, op. 127 - …the Danish Quartet is as sublime and timeless as you could wish for. There is enough momentum to prevent things falling apart, but Beethoven’s expansion of his material as far as it can go and beyond is as well played here as I think I’ve ever heard on a recording.
Shostakovitch String Quartet No. 15 in E-flat minor, op. 144 - …. my preference in this work would now lean towards the Danish Quartet for its impeccable balance and coherence of emotional arc through the whole piece. …There are of course plenty of others around, but with an intriguing and impressively effective concept and such superlative performances this Prism series looks like becoming one every string quartet collector should covet.Dominy Clements - Article
Pizzicato.lu 21/11/2018: Auf dem Lichtstrahl
CD Prism I; Bach: Fuge Es-Dur BWV 876 aus dem Wohltemperierten Klavier II für Streichquartett; Beethoven: Streichquartett op. 127, Schostakowitsch: Streichquartett Nr. 15 - ECM New Series
Das junge ‘Danish String Quartet’ stellt eine CD mit drei Werken vor, die sie unter dem Titel ‘Prism I’ vorstellt. …
Während die Fuge sehr klassisch und zurückhaltend gespielt wird, erklingt Shostakovich umso aufgewühlter und ekstatischer. Dabei gewährleisten die vier Musiker natürlich bei allem Engagement eine handwerklich außerordentlich gelungene Darbietung, die es mit jedem qualitativ hochwertigen Quartett aufnehmen kann.
Es-Dur Quartett op. 127 Beethoven wird dann wieder relativ behutsam und ausgewogen dargestellt. Diese wohlklingende Deutung wirft ein dezenteres, aber ebenso spannendes Licht auf dieses Werk, als es bei anderen Ensembles der Fall ist. Wieder einmal könnte man meinen, dass junge Künstler ein Werk befreit vom Ballast der Aufführungsgeschichte präsentieren. Das kann schief gehen, oder auch, wie hier, sehr gut.
Young Danish String Quartet launches a new series entitled Prism I, and combining works having things in common. On the basis of their unquestionable talent the quartet offers personal but highly convincing views of these compositions. Uwe Krusch - Article
Washington Post 13/11/2018 : Danish String Quartet shows off the power of folk music
The Danish String Quartet played a concert Monday night that eloquently demonstrated the power of folk music. …., each is a master musician. Together, they play with a cohesion, finesse and precision second to none. Having built a solid reputation in the standard quartet repertory, recently they’ve turned their attention to Nordic folk music. The enthusiastic and vocal audience that packed the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue seemed glad they have.
The program, announced from the stage, included a number of the songs from the quartet’s past two albums, “Wood Works” and “Last Leaf.” …Every last note, whether evoking open fields, dense forests, mighty fjords, the deep sea or the flight of birds, was played with a freshness, immediacy and love that gripped the heart and wouldn’t let go.
Washington Performing Arts has scored another bull’s eye. Patrick Rucker - Article
Le Soleil.com 6/11/2018 : Danish String Quartet: du folklore plein de finesse
Le Danish String Quartet sait conjuguer la chaleur des veillées d’antan à la finesse de la musique de chambre. Le quatuor à cordes danois — hormis un violoncelliste norvégien — a inclus un segment de musique folklorique scandinave à son programme tout spécialement pour son passage au Club musical.
…Entre des œuvres de Haydn et de Beethoven brillaient celles d’illustres compositeurs populaires, qui ont fait danser et chanter leurs compatriotes. …, les quatre musiciens se sont exécutés avec sérieux et fluidité pour le Quatuor à cordes en do majeur, op. 20, no 2 de Haydn. L’œuvre leur a permis de démontrer toutes les nuances de leur jeu; contrepoint minutieux, tension appuyée, menuet dansant et élégantes arabesques se sont succédé.
On sentait par moment que leurs pieds avaient envie de quitter le sol, déjà prêts pour le segment folklorique où ils ont pu taper du pied en douceur, ajoutant un battement de cœur à leurs coups d’archet virtuose.
L’interprétation était sublime, et certains détails l’étaient plus encore.
…Le concert comprenait aussi le Quatuor à cordes no 16 en fa majeur, op. 135 de Beethoven, auquel ils ont rendu honneur avec de vives escalades de notes et une gravité ample qui ouvrait la porte à tous les contrastes. Josianne Desloges - Article
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