Modern-day vikings playing with elan

Review: Danish String Quartet, Alnwick Playhouse, March 6.

The visit of this group brought much pleasure to classical music enthusiasts in the Alnwick area.

Four young men, three from Denmark and one from Norway – modern day Vikings – played with elan, and great style.

The profusion of beards did nothing to lessen the clarity of sound and the unanimity of attack, which was a model of its kind.

The programme was notable for the inclusion of an early Mendelssohn String Quartet (opus 13), Nielsen’s last in that genre, and one of Beethoven’s last, opus 132.

Mendelssohn’s place in the history of music is being re-evaluated, many having rated him as of secondary importance, and the Nazis having proscribed his and other Jewish composers’ music.

Nielsen is still, regrettably, little known and as such rather an acquired taste, but really worth getting to know.

Beethoven’s last string quartets are legendary, noted for the depth of their expression, and the breaking of musical boundaries; they are almost from another world, and some of the greatest music ever written.

Such was the programme presented, a feast for chamber music lovers, and our thanks are due to the four young Scandinavians who took us into the heart of this music. A wonderful concert.

The latest in the series took place on Tuesday when the young musicians of the Kammer-Philharmonie Europa performed at the Playhouse featuring Baroque music, a concerto by Bach and music for strings by Faure and Pavane.

By Martin Gilham