The background

In the ECM soon to be released Prism V the Danish String Quartet’s Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen, violin; Frederik Øland, violin; Asbjørn Nørgaard, viola, and Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin, violoncello take on a repertoire that straddles four centuries.

The Danish String Quartet’s Prism project has taken eight years to complete. From A to Z, their project has encompassed works by Mendelssohn… Shostakovich… Schnittke… Bartók… and now, on the fifth and final volume, Bach, Beethoven, and Webern.

The music

Bach’s chorale prelude Vor deinen Thron tret ich hiermit (Before your throne I appear), Beethoven’s String Quartet, No. 16 in F major, Webern’s 1905 String Quartet, and the Contrapunctus 14 from Bach’s The Art of the Fugue.

The performance and the recording

All four works are given freshly alive readings by violinists Sørensen and Øland, violist Nørgaard and cellist Sjölin in technically dazzling, musically elegant performances that cohesively highlight a myriad detail that coalesces into perfection. The quartet’s playing of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 16 is both boldly dramatic and intensely lyrical, their take on Webern’s String Quartet successfully brings out all that is melodically cantabile  in what essentially an atonal work. Their interpretation of Bach is irreverently down-to-earth, yet deeply spiritual.

Beautifully recorded in Copenhagen, and produced by Manfred Eicher, the CD has insightful liner notes by Paul Griffiths.

Rafael de Acha © 2023

Cuban-born Rafael de Acha has enjoyed a distinguished career in the arts as a performer, stage director, producer, and educator. He has taught courses on the History of Music at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music and at Florida International University, and contributed writings and reviews to and to his blog:  

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