Danish String Quartet Makes Carnegie Hall Debut

Danish String Quartet Makes Carnegie Hall Debut; At Zankel Hall on 10-26-16

Almost twenty years ago, three thirteen (or maybe fourteen) year old musicians became friends and began to play together.  A professor (who is still a mentor) Tim Frederiksen at the Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen took interest in them a year or two after that and they became a proper group.  These three who are increasingly known around the world as members of the Danish String Quartet are: Rune Tonsgaard Sorensen on violin, Frederik Oland on violin, and Asbjorn Norgaard on viola.  The fourth member of the group is actually a Norwegian.  He is Fredrik Schoyen Sjolin on violincello who joined the group about a decade into its existence in 2008.

I met them on the afternoon of their performance for a chat in the venue’s research room.  Although they had already had a number of New York City gigs under their belt including ones at Lincoln Center, they were thrilled to be at Carnegie Hall so it was a great moment to document.  The DSQ spoke about how the two compositions that would make up the evening’s program were written late in the composers’ lives; both practically on their death beds.  Shostakovich’s last quartet, his No. 15 in E-Flat Minor as well as Schubert’s last quartet in C Major have a sense of mortality to them but both, as the gentlemen pointed out, contain light that complements and deepens the meaning of their dark elements.  The former is what they were playing when the on-stage video was being shot and on the latter they were joined by cellist Torleif Thedeen.

In contrast to the lasts of the concert, the DSQ tackled three firsts on their recent album in the ECM New series representing three living composers of different generations.  Two works by fellow Danes: Per Norgard (1932) and Hans Abrahamsen (1952) and, one by Thosmas Ades (1971) from England.  

The Danish String Quartet, you should know, enjoy a good beer.  The only disappointment of the encounter was my inability to secure any of the pale ale the group introduced at the first in their Series of Four concerts in Copenhagen last month! 

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