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Album Review

This release on Denmark's Dacapo label may seem an unlikely candidate for the classical best-seller lists, but several factors have propelled it to that level. Among these are the residence of the Danish String Quartet at New York's Lincoln Center and the viral success of a video performance of some of a three-section wedding piece heard on the album. The quartet even raised funds for the release via a crowdfunding site, if not a first for the classical sphere then close to it. But the most important factor of all is that nobody has ever done anything quite like this before. The members of the quartet (in all but one case) have arranged folk songs of several Scandinavian countries for string quartet. That's not a particularly common medium for folk song arrangements, but it's the extremely varied nature of the arrangements that really stands out. The term "arrangement" isn't even quite right; the 13 tracks take a step in the direction of classical compositions. The collection as a whole includes a large range of ideas, and so do many of the individual pieces, which gives the effect of examining the tune through a kaleidoscopic lens. A tune may be introduced by a slow prelude based on its collection of pitches, may be harmonized, made into polyphony, or subjected to deeper forms of alteration. It's fascinating, it rewards repeated hearings, and it's consistently lively and fun in a relaxed way. The sound, captured in a Danish museum hall, is superb. Possibly the sleeper classical hit of 2014.

Customer Reviews


I have recently become a fan of Danish String Quartet after hearing them on Performance Today. I could hardly wait for the release of this recording, after learning that it would not be available in the US market until September. I was so elated to know that it was available by iTunes, as I simply could not wait that long. If you love string quartets and love folk music, you will obsess over this one. I cannot get enough. That being said, their other recordings are over the top as well. You can't go wrong. Go for it. These guys need to make more music, so please buy it.

Wonderful folk music played by an excellent string quartet!

This recording is essentially a collection of folk tunes arranged for string quartet. These tunes were selected by members of the group, and they are played with obvious love and warmth, utilizing the wonderful communicative possibilities present in the quartet organism. The premise, expressed by the notes of the group is, “Now we want to see what happens when we let the Nordic folk music flow through the wooden instruments of the string quartet. Does it work?”

The first track, “Ye Honest Bridal Couple”, part one of a trilogy, is airy and lonely and captivating. It is definitely attention getting. The second track, “Sekstur from Vendsyssel/The Peat Dance”, is a Danish reel tune and if it doesn’t get your foot tapping then you should check your pulse and make sure it’s still going. Track 4, “Waltz after Lasse in Lyby” harkens back to a traveling fiddler named Lasse who was known for playing this lovely little waltz. Track 5, “Ribers #8”, is a Danish polka and it is just a happy treat to listen to. Particularly charming is Track 7, “Five Sheep, Four Goats”, which has a bit of a back and forth sing-song quality to it. Track 11, “Jasspodspolska”, is a polska from the region of Dalarna in Sweden and it is marvelous. And Track 13, “Sonderho Bridal Trilogy – Part III” is a fitting close to the disc, slow and sweet, with just a hint of somberness, fading away gently.

This disc has spent quite a bit of time in my CD player since I got it. The music is delightful and soulful, and the quality of the performance is exemplary. Does it work? Oh yes – it works indeed. Very highly recommended!

Moving and Beautful Melodys that take you to Nordic Country

I happened to tune in today on the radio and heard them play live. I was so impressed I imediately went and looked them up on line. The tunes are lively and beautiful. It seems to set a tone so that you it takes you to Sweden. You feel you can see almost see a group pf people dancing or fiddler playing for some food. Absolutly mesmorizing!

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