Danish String Quartet

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Prodigies rarely appear in the string quartet genre, but three of the four members of the Danish String Quartet began playing together as children. The group has impressed audiences in Denmark and abroad.
The members of the Danish String Quartet — Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen (b. 1983), violin; Frederik Øland (b. 1984), violin; Asbjørn Nørgaard (b. 1984), viola; and Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin (b. 1982), cello — met, with the exception of Sjölin, who joined the group in 2008, at a music summer camp. They were also soccer teammates. The musical connection stuck, and as teens, they formed a string quartet and began serious studies at the Copenhagen Academy of Music. The quartet’s primary teacher there was Tim Frederiksen, and the group also participated in master classes with the Tokyo and Emerson String Quartets, among other players. The quartet made its debut in 2002 at the Copenhagen Summer Festival.
After accumulating major awards, including first prizes at the Danish Radio P2 Chamber Music Competition (2004) and the Vagn Holmboe String Quartet Competition (2005), the quartet was signed to the Dacapo label, releasing Carl Nielsen’s complete string quartets in two volumes. It has also recorded for CAvi-music, issuing two recordings of Brahms. In 2013, the Danish String Quartet snared the prestigious designation as BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists, broadening its concert schedule across Europe and North America. In 2016, it moved to ECM for a recording of quartets by Adès, Nørgård & Abrahamsen. When the four appeared at the Chamber Music of Lincoln Center’s summer program series at Saratoga in 2017, the still-young musicians were already veterans. “If all goes well, around 2060 we will beat the world record for longest-running string quartet,” they wrote. “On that day we will host a giant feast — you shall all be invited!” The quartet’s 2017 ECM album, Last Leaf, featured string quartet adaptations of folk music from the Scandinavian world. This was followed in 2018 by the first of five ambitious programs entitled Prism, each of which combined a late Beethoven quartet with a Bach fugue and another quartet masterwork. The group was named Musical America’s Ensemble of the Year for 2020. The Prism series continued to appear through the pandemic, reaching its fourth volume in 2022 with an album featuring music by Mendelssohn and Bach together with Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132. ~ James Manheim