They met as children at a music summer camp in Denmark where they played both soccer and music together. That is when Rune Tonsgaard Sorensen, Asbjorn Norgaad and Frederik Øland started to explore music for string quartets. Lifelong friends, they later studied at Copenhagen’s Royal Academy of Music and are founding members of the Danish String Quartet.
The Melbourne Chamber Music Society presents the Danish String Quartet at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Indialantic, April 13 at 7:30 p.m.
The Danish String Quartet has established a reputation for their integrated sound, impeccable intonation and judicious balance. Alex Ross of the New Yorker praised the “rampaging energy” of its music-making style, and The New York Times called the group’s 2012 performance of Beethoven’s Op. 132 String Quartet “one of the most powerful renditions that I’ve heard live or on a recording.”
"If there is anything that sets us apart, it's mostly in our story," said Norgaad. "Because I think many chamber ensembles they're often a product of something in music academy that maybe people create a group to have a career; they do it kind of later in life. For us, the string quartet came before us actually deciding to become professional musicians. So it's so ingrained in our personal history, as well, that the way we learned individually to play our instruments was very kind of intertwined with creating the quartet."
Since making its debut at the Copenhagen Summer Festival in 2002, the quartet — violinists Øland and Sorensen, violist Norgaard and Norwegian cellist Fredrik Schoyen Sjolin — have amassed awards, audiences and worldwide for their graceful renderings with the four speaking as one beautifully nuanced, superbly blended voice.
The group has demonstrated a special passion for Scandinavian composers, whom it frequently incorporates into adventurous contemporary programs. While the ensemble has proved equally skilled as profound performers of the classical masters — with Beethoven a particular favorite — a recent musical detour takes it back nearly 400 years to the foggy inlets of the Faroe Islands and Nordic hamlets, where folk tunes are played and passed on.
The Danish String Quartet is touring behind its new CD, “Last Leaf,” released last September to excellent review. It has 16 Nordic folks tunes, some new works by quartet members, and some arrangements of traditional tunes. Their tours have taken them to many important venues in Europe and North America, including a series of well-received concerts in London’s Wigmore Hall. In 2011 the quartet was awarded the Carl Nielsen Prize, Denmark’s most prestigious cultural honor.