2020 MUSICAL AMERICA DIRECTORY 29
These days there is no shortage of bright, shiny
young string quartets nipping at the heels of the masters,
but there’s plenty about the three Danes and one Norwegian
who make up the Danish String Quartet to make them
stand out from the pack.
Critical plaudits tend to focus on the sheer excitement
(Pictured, left to right) Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen (violin); Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin (cello); Frederik Øland (violin); Asbjørn Nørgaard (viola).
of a DSQ performance with “thrilling,” “exhilarating,”
and “rockstar vibe” listed alongside references to pinpoint
intonation and immaculate blend. Of course, it helps
that despite being only in their mid-30s, three of them—
violinists Frederik Øland and Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen,
and violist Asbjørn Nørgaard (Norwegian cellist Fredrik
Schøyen Sjölin came onboard in 2008)—have been
making music together for over 20 years (go on, do the
math). There’s also something about their programming
that brilliantly manages to combine the old with the new;
the conventional with the unconventional. And then
there’s the folk music. But despite the hipster beards and
the beer—both of which inevitably get a mention in any
profile of the group—the DSQ vibe is best summed up by
the phrase “expect the unexpected.”
The three Danes first met at a summer camp for
amateur musicians. Among the youngest in a mix of
adults and children, they clicked at once. “We thought we
Photo: Caroline Bittencourt.
They bonded around a
football stuck in a tree.
“It was our first challenge
as a string quartet,”
quips DSQ violist Asbjørn
Nørgaard. Several years
and first prizes later, the
foursome faces a different
challenge: a complete
Beethoven cycle and
recordings of the late
quartets for ECM.