Danish String Quartet
A | D | CEE
Musical America 2020 "Ensemble of the Year"
Full Biography
Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen – Violin
Frederik Øland – Violin
Asbjørn Nørgaard - Viola
Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin – Cello

Among  today’s many exceptional chamber music groups, the GRAMMY®  nominated  Danish
String Quartet  continuously  asserts  its  preeminence.    The  Quartet’s  playing  reflects  impeccable musicianship, sophisticated artistry, exquisite clarity of ensemble, and, above all, an expressivity inextricably  bound  to  the  music,  from  Haydn  to  Shostakovich  to  contemporary  scores.    Performances bring a rare musical spontaneity, giving audiences the sense of hearing even treasured canon repertoire as if  for  the  first  time,  and  exuding  a  palpable  joy  in  music-making  that  have  made  them  enormously  in-demand on concert stages throughout the world. The recipient of many awards and prestigious appointments,  including  Musical  America’s  2020  Ensemble  of  the  Year  and  the  Borletti-Buitoni  Trust, the Danish String Quartet was named in 2013 as BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists and appointed to the The Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two).

In  2021-2022,  the  Danish  String  Quartet  introduce  DOPPELGÄNGER,  an  ambitious  4-year
international  commissioning  project.  DOPPELGÄNGER  pairs  world  premieres  from  four  renowned composers—Bent  Sørensen,  Lotta  Wennäkoski,  Anna  Thorvaldsdottir,  and  Thomas  Adès—with  four major  works  from  the  masterful  chamber  music  repertoire  of  Schubert.  Each  season,  the  Danish  String Quartet  will  perform  a  world  premiere  on  a  program  with  its  doppelgänger—the  Schubert  quartet  or quintet that inspired it—culminating in the premiere of a quintet by Adès, after the great String Quintet in C major.  
The DOPPELGÄNGER pieces are commissioned by the Danish String Quartet with the support
of  Carnegie  Hall,  Cal  Performances,  UC  Santa  Barbara  Arts  &  Lectures,  Vancouver  Recital  Society, Flagey  in  Brussels,  and  Muziekgebouw  in  Amsterdam.  The  first  commission,  composed  by  Bent Sørensen and inspired by Schubert’s quartet in G Major (D.887), is scheduled to premiere in 2021.

In  addition  to  performances  of  DOPPELGÄNGER,  the  Danish  String  Quartet  gives  over  20
performances  throughout  North  America  in  the  2021-2022  season.  Highlights  include  debuts  at  the University of Georgia, Virginia Tech’s Moss Arts Center, Shriver Hall, and Virginia Arts Festival, return trips  to  Boston’s  Celebrity  Series,  Philadelphia  Chamber  Music  Society,  Ensemble  Music  Society  of Indianapolis,  Chamber  Music  Cincinnati,  and  University  of  Washington’s  Meany  Hall,  and  a  tour  of Florida. European highlights include tours of Denmark, France, Germany, and Amsterdam.

As  part  of  a  multi-year  residency,  the  Danish  String  Quartet  brought  a  series  of  five  concerts, which  mirror  the  programs  in  its  ongoing  recording  project  with  ECM  New  Series,  PRISM,  to  La  Jolla Music Society in November 2019. Each PRISM program is an  exploration of the symbiotic musical and contextual  relationships  between  Bach  fugues,  Beethoven  string  quartets,  and  works  by  Shostakovich, Schnittke, Bartok, Mendelssohn, and Webern, forming an expertly curated musical evolution within each individual  program  and  across  the  entire  PRISM  repertory. 
Prism  I,  the  first  disc  of  this  five-album project  for  the  ECM  label,  was  released  in  September  2018  and  garnered  a  GRAMMY®  nomination  in the category of Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance for the group’s  recordings  of Beethoven’s  Op.  127  in  E-flat Major, Bach’s  Fugue  in  E-flat Major (arranged by Mozart), and Shostakovich’s  final  string  quartet,  No.  15  in  E-flat  minor. 
Prism  II  was  subsequently  released  in September 2019 to rave reviews including a five-star review from BBC Music Magazine, “Best Classical Music of 2019” from New York Times, and “Classical Music You Must Hear” from Apple Music. Prism III—featuring  Beethoven’s  String  Quartet  No.  13,  Op.  131,  Bartók’s  String  Quartet  No.  1,  and  Bach’s Fugue in C-sharp minor, BWV 849 from The Well-Tempered Clavier—was released in March 2021.

The Danish String Quartet returned to North America in the 2019-2020 season as one of the most prominent musical voices in the monumental celebrations of Beethoven’s 250th year. With two sweeping North  American  tours,  the  Danish  engaged  its  expansive  audience  in  programming  centered  around  the towering  Beethoven  string  quartets,  as well  as many  important  works  which  inspired,  and were  inspired by, these revered giants of the classical canon. The Danish returned to Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center as the featured string quartet performing the entire Beethoven cycle over the course of six concerts in  February  2020. 
The  Quartet  performs  the  cycle  again  for  the  Schubert  Club  in  St.  Paul,  MN,  in
November 2021.

The group takes an active role in reaching new audiences through special projects.  In 2007, they
established  the  DSQ  Festival,  which  takes  place  in  an  intimate  and  informal  setting  at  Copenhagen’s Bygningskulturens  Hus.  The  2020  DSQ  Festival  featured  an  array  of  meticulously  curated  programs including such guests as violinist Malin William-Olsson, cellist Andreas Brantelid, and pianist Marianna Shirinyan.
In 2016, they inaugurated a new music festival, Series of Four, in which they both perform and
invite  colleagues—the  Ebène  Quartet,  mandolin  player  Chris  Thile,  among  others—to  appear  at  the venerable Danish Radio Concert Hall. Concerts this season featured collaborations with iconic Scandinavian  artists  including  Andreas  Brantelid,  Lars  Ulrik  Mortensen,  and  the  Danish  National  Girls Choir.

Since  its  debut  in  2002,  the  Danish  String  Quartet  has  demonstrated  a  special  affinity  for
Scandinavian  composers,  from  Carl  Nielsen  to  Hans  Abrahamsen,  alongside  music  of  Mozart  and Beethoven.  The Quartet’s musical interests also encompass Nordic folk music, the focus of Wood Works, an album of traditional Scandinavian folk music, released by Dacapo in 2014. As a follow-up, the Danish String  Quartet  released  Last  Leaf  for  ECM,  an  album  of  traditional  Scandinavian  folk  music.  This recording  was  one  of  the  top  classical  albums  of  2017,  as  chosen  by  NPR,  Spotify  and  The  New  York Times, among others. 

Named Artist-in-Residence in 2006 by the Danish Radio, the Quartet was offered the opportunity
to  record  the  Nielsen  string  quartets  at  the  Danish  Radio  Concert  Hall.    The  two  CDs,  released  in  2007 and  2008  on  the  Dacapo  label,  garnered  enthusiastic  praise  for  their  first  recordings—“these Danish players have excelled in performances of works by Brahms, Mozart and Bartók in recent years.  But they play Nielsen’s quartets as if they owned them,” noted the New  York  Times. 

In  2012,  the  Danish  String Quartet  released  a  recording  of  Haydn  and  Brahms  quartets  on  the  German  AVI-music  label,  for  which they also received critical notice.  “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,” observed the  New  York  Times.    Subsequently,  they  recorded  works  by  Brahms  and  Robert
Fuchs with clarinetist Sebastian Manz, released by AVI-music in 2014, and in 2017, an album with music of Thomas Adès, Per Nørgård, and Abrahamsen, the Quartet’s debut on ECM.

The Danish String Quartet has received numerous citations and prizes, including First Prize in the
Vagn  Holmboe  String  Quartet  Competition  and  the  Charles  Hennen  International  Chamber  Music Competition  in  the  Netherlands,  as  well  as  the  Audience  Prize  at  the  Trondheim  International  String Quartet  Competition  in  2005.    In  2009,  the  Danish  String  Quartet  won  First  Prize  in  the  11th  London International  String  Quartet  Competition,  now  known  as  the  Wigmore  Hall  International  String  Quartet competition,  and  return  to  the  celebrated  London  concert  hall  frequently.  The  Quartet  was  the  awarded the 2010 NORDMETALL-Ensemble Prize at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival in Germany, and in 2011, they received the Carl Nielsen Prize, the highest cultural honor in Denmark.  

Violinists  Frederik  Øland  and  Rune  Tonsgaard  Sørenson  and  violist  Asbjørn  Nørgaard  met  as children at a music summer camp where they played soccer and made music together.  As teenagers, they began  the  study  of  classical  chamber  music  and  were  mentored  by  Tim  Frederiksen  of  Copenhagen’s Royal  Danish  Academy  of  Music.  In  2008,  the  three  Danes  were  joined  by  Norwegian  cellist  Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin.

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