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Frederik Øland, violin
Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen, violin
Asbjørn Nørgaard, viola
Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin, cello
Embodying the quintessential elements of a fine chamber music ensemble, the Danish String Quartet has established a reputation for their integrated sound, impeccable intonation and judicious balance. With their technical and interpretive talents matched by an infectious joy for music-making and “rampaging energy” (The New Yorker), the quartet is in demand worldwide by concert and festival presenters alike. Since making their debut in 2002 at the Copenhagen Festival, the musical friends have demonstrated a passion for Scandinavian composers, who they frequently incorporate into adventurous contemporary programs, while also giving skilled and profound interpretations of the classical masters. The New York Times selected the quartet’s concerts as highlights of 2012 and 2015, praising “one of the most powerful renditions of Beethoven’s Opus 132 String Quartet that I’ve heard live or on a recording, and “the adventurous young members of the Danish String Quartet play almost everything excitingly.” The Danish String Quartet received the 2016 Borletti Buitoni Trust provided to support outstanding young artists in their international endeavors, joining a small, illustrious roster of past recipients since the Trust’s founding in 2003.
The Danish String Quartet’s expansive 2017-2018 North American season includes more than 30 performances across 17 states. The ensemble gives debut performances at numerous renowned venues, such as the Interlochen Center for the Arts, Bravo! Vail and Ravinia summer festivals, Cleveland Chamber Music Society, Ensemble Music Society Indianapolis, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Oregon Bach Festival, and San Francisco Performances, among others. Further season highlights include returns to the Mostly Mozart Festival, UW World Series at Meany Hall in Seattle, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Philadelphia and Buffalo Chamber Music Societies. This season, the Quartet features a richly satisfying array of diverse repertoire which includes both giants of the string quartet canon - Bartok, Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, and Mozart- with lesser-performed works by Sibelius, Schnittke, and Jörg Widmann. Additionally, the ensemble joins the outstanding Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen to perform the Shostakovich Piano Quintet at Ravinia and the Brahms Piano Quintet at CMS Lincoln Center’s residency at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, where they also collaborate with cellist Jakob Koranyi for the Schubert Cello Quintet. Overseas, they tour extensively throughout Europe in their native Denmark, Norway, Germany, Luxembourg, and Holland as well as Australia and the Far East. The Danish String Quartet continues to expand upon their deep affinity for Scandinavian folk music with several performances of their own arrangements of traditional Nordic music, and with the release of their newest recording, Last Leaf, on ECM Records in fall 2017.
After their highly successful 2016-2017 season, which included debuts at the Tanglewood, Caramoor and Edinburgh Festivals, the Danish String Quartet debuted at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall performing Shostakovich String Quartet in E-flat minor as well as Schubert Cello Quintet with eminent Swedish cellist Torleif Thedéen, in a performance described by New York Magazine as “a raw kind of splendor.” In addition to their New York engagement, the quartet’s robust North American schedule took them to Salt Lake City, Stanford, Ashland and Portland (OR), Vancouver, Kansas City (MO), Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Chicago, Boston, Orono, Dartmouth, Washington DC, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Kalamazoo, Detroit, St. Paul, and Denver, as well as a teaching residency at Dartmouth College. Internationally, they performed throughout Israel, South America, Germany, the United Kingdom, Poland, and their home country, Denmark. As champions of contemporary music from Scandinavian composers, the Quartet premiered a new work by Rolf Wallin titled Swans Kissing based on the 1914 series of paintings, “The Swan,” by Swedish painter Hilma af Klint. This work was commissioned by the Quartet for its world premiere in London’s Wigmore Hall.
The Quartet’s recent debut recording on ECM Records features works of Danish composers Hans Abrahamsen and Per Nørgård and English composer Thomas Adés and received five stars from The Guardian, praised as “an exacting program requiring grace, grit and clarity and the Danish players sound terrific...It’s a sophisticated performance.” The recording debuted at #16 on the Billboard Classical Chart and continues to earn international acclaim. They also recently presented the US premiere of Danish composer Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen's Quartet No. 7 "The Extinguishable" at the University of Chicago. In addition to their commitment to highlighting Scandinavian composers, the Danish String Quartet derive great pleasure in traditional Nordic folk music. Their subsequent recording, Last Leaf, was released in September 2017 and has since been listed as one of the top classical albums of the year by NPR, WQXR, The New York Times, Boston Globe, and Spotify.
Since winning the Danish Radio P2 Chamber Music Competition in 2004, the quartet has been greatly admired throughout Denmark and in October 2016 they presented their tenth annual DSQ Festival, a four-day event held in Copenhagen that brings together musical friends the Quartet has met on its travels. Additionally, in 2016 the Quartet curated a new music festival, Series of Four, where they served as both performers and artistic directors, bringing world-renowned artists to the intimate series of concerts in Copenhagen. In 2009 the Danish String Quartet won First Prize in the 11th London International String Quartet Competition, as well as four additional prizes from the same jury. This competition is now called the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition and the Danish String Quartet has performed at the famed hall on several occasions, including their final concert of the 2015-2016 season performing a program of Beethoven, Janáček and Neilsen.
The Danish String Quartet’s talents have secured them numerous awards and coveted appointments including the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two Program, the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists program. They were awarded First Prize in the Vagn Holmboe String Quartet Competition and the Charles Hennen International Chamber Music Competition in Holland as well as the Audience Prize in the Trondheim International String Quartet Competition in 2005. They were the recipients of the 2010 NORDMETALL-Ensemble Prize at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival in Germany and, in 2011, received the prestigious Carl Nielsen Prize.
In 2006, the Danish String Quartet was Danish Radio’s Artist-in-Residence, giving them the opportunity to record all of Carl Nielsen's string quartets in the Danish Radio Concert Hall, subsequently released to critical acclaim on the Dacapo label in 2007 and 2008. The New York Times extolled, “These Danish players have excelled in performances of works by Brahms, Mozart and Bartok in New York in recent years. But they play Nielsen’s quartets as if they owned them.” In 2012 the Danish String Quartet released an acclaimed recording of Haydn and Brahms quartets on the German AVI-music label, about which The New York Times proclaimed: “What makes the performance special is the maturity and calm of the playing, even during virtuosic passages that whisk by. This is music making of wonderful ease and naturalness...” They recorded works by Brahms and Fuchs with award-winning clarinettist Sebastian Manz at the Bayerische Rundfunk in Munich, released by AVI-music in 2014, and are currently signed with ECM Records.
Violinists Frederik Øland and Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen and violist Asbjørn Nørgaard met as children at a music summer camp where they played both soccer and music together, eventually making the transition into a serious string quartet in their teens and studying at Copenhagen’s Royal Academy of Music. In 2008 the three Danes were joined by Norwegian cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin. The Danish String Quartet was primarily taught and mentored by Professor Tim Frederiksen and have participated in master classes with the Tokyo and Emerson String Quartets, Alasdair Tait, Paul Katz, Hugh Maguire, Levon Chilingirian and Gábor Takács-Nagy.
“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.”
-The Los Angeles Times
"They bring a freshness and energy plus a level of sheer accomplishment that I don't ever remember hearing in these works."