Great Danes in the golden age of the string quartet

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The Danish String Quartet, Alnwick Music Society Subscription Concert, Alnwick Playhouse, Friday, February 11.

IT has been said that today we live in the golden age of the classical string quartet.

This is because there are more extremely fine classical music chamber groups than there has ever been, travelling more than their predecessors and performing a much wider variety of works than has ever been the case before, and to a much larger, informed audience.

Through the years, some of these groups, especially the string quartets, have performed here in Alnwick, and we have heard the radiance of much young, extraordinary talent.

The Danish String Quartet was created in 2002, by four young Danes, since when they have travelled extensively, gained much experience and confidence, and in 2009 they won the truly distinguished International London String Quartet competition, and have continued to grow and shine since.

On Friday, February 11, the Quartet performed the fourth concert in the current season of Subscription Concerts of the Alnwick Music Society in the Playhouse, Alnwick.

Their viola player is Asbjorn Norgaard, the cellist is Fredrik Sjolin.

The two violinists are Rune Sorensen and Frederik Oland, who take turns between playing First and Second Violin, as the parts suit each of them and the music.

They opened with the well-known, welcome, vigorous and good introduction Quartettsatz in C.Minor (D.703) by Schubert. Indeed, a winner.

An excellent way to get to know their audience.

They followed it with Mozart’s Quartet in C.Major, K.465 usually known as The Dissonance, because of a good deal of unusual work at and near its beginning which Mozart expected (and got) his quartet to play.

It shocked some of his audience at the time (1785), which was merely an aspect of his genius composing, and is now, of course, a remarkably popular and often performed work.

After the interval, their attention was entirely occupied with the Second Quartet of Shostakovich, Op.68, (1944).

This Russian, 20th century composer whose popularity is growing rapidly internationally, and especially in this country, deservedly and agreeably so.

Much of his chamber work has been performed in this town, a few pieces several times.

This work was clear, transparent, intelligibly, stimulating and enjoyable, an appropriate culmination of an evening’s very intelligent programming and performing.

They were brilliant, and will be welcome back some time.

FRED DYSON