Frederik Øland (Violin); Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen (Violin);
The GRAMMY®-nominated Danish String Quartet continues to assert its preeminence among the world’s finest string quartets. Celebrated for their “intense blend, extreme dynamic variation (in which they seem glued together), perfect intonation even on harmonics, and constant vitality and flow” (Gramophone) and renowned for the palpable joy they exude in music-making, the Danish String Quartet has become one of today’s most in-demand classical quartets, performing to sold-out concert halls around the world. The Danish Quartet celebrated their 20th Anniversary in 2022-2023, having formed when violinists Frederik Øland and Rune Tonsgaard Sørenson and violist Asbjørn Nørgaard were teenagers under the mentorship of Tim Frederiksen of Copenhagen’s Royal Danish Academy of Music. In 2008, the three Danes were joined by Norwegian cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin.
The Danish Quartet’s inventive and intriguing programming and repertoire choices have produced critically acclaimed original projects and commissions as well as popular arrangements of Scandinavian folk music. This season, the Quartet will complete its DOPPELGÄNGER series, an ambitious four-year international commissioning project pairs world premieres from four composers—Bent Sørensen, Lotta Wennäkoski, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, and Thomas Adès—with late major chamber works by Schubert. Each season, the Quartet has performed a world premiere on a program with its doppelgänger—the Schubert quartet or quintet that inspired it—culminating in 2024 in the premiere of a quintet by Adès, after the 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.
In summer 2023 the Quartet performs at Ravinia and at Tanglewood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall. The 2023-2024 season sees them on tour in eighteen cities in the USA and Canada and venues in Norway, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Brussels, Italy, and their home of Denmark.
The Danish String Quartet’s most recent recording project is PRISM, a series of five discs on ECM New Series that explores the symbiotic musical and contextual relationships between Bach fugues, Beethoven string quartets, and works by Shostakovich, Schnittke, Bartók, Mendelssohn, and Webern. The final disc, PRISM V, was released to great acclaim in April 2023, with The Strad praising the quartet’s “refined, coherent and erudite performances, which combine an exhilarating sweep with minute attention to details of phrasing and timbre.” The Quartet’s discography reflects the ensemble’s special affinity for Scandinavian composers, with the complete quartets of Carl Nielsen (Dacapo, 2007 and 2008) and Adès, Nørgård & Abrahamsen (their debut on ECM in 2016). They also released two discs of traditional Scandinavian folk music, Wood Works (Dacapo 2014) and Last Leaf
(ECM 2017), which was chosen as one of the top classical albums of the year by NPR, Spotify and The New York Times. A third folk recording is planned for release in 2023 on ECM.
The Quartet takes an active role in reaching new audiences through special projects. In 2007, they established the DSQ Festival, which takes place in intimate and informal settings in Copenhagen. In 2016, they inaugurated a concert series, Series of Four, in which they both perform and invite colleagues to appear.
The Danish String Quartet has been the recipient of many awards and appointments, including Musical America’s 2020 Ensemble of the Year and the Borletti-Buitoni Trust. The Quartet was named in 2013 as a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist and appointed to the Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two). The Quartet was awarded the 2010 NORDMETALL-Ensemble Prize at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival in Germany, and, in 2011, received the Carl Nielsen Prize, the highest cultural honor in Denmark. www.danishquartet.com.
“...these [PRISM] releases must qualify as some of the most essential listening of the past decade. No recording could quite capture what makes the Danish so special in concert, could make indelible the fleeting aura of rapt, intense concentration that settles in a hall when they are at their best. But the five “Prism” releases come close...”
— David Allen, The New York Times
“What they do know is how to be an exceptional quartet, whatever repertory they play.”
— Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times
“But nothing could have truly prepared me for the tornado of energy that the quartet unleashed with its performance of Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14, “Death and the Maiden.”… So what is it about them that prompts such acclaim? …For my part, I’ve got to give it to two things: their commitment to connecting and contextualizing music from all areas of the concert music tradition and beyond, and the unbridled joy they take in playing with one another.”
— A.Z. Madonna, Boston Globe
“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.”
— Kate Molleson,The Guardian
“They could be grounded in their tone or mystical. They allowed time to stand still, and they could assume the pose of excitingly aggressive rockers. They did it all.”
— Mark Swed, The Los Angeles Times
“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, Gramophone
"This is one of the best quartets before the public today."
— Robert Battey, The Washington Post