Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek
Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm For Assistance
DANISH STRING QUARTET
Rune Sørensen, violin
Frederik Øland, violin
Asbjørn Nørgaard, violin
Fredrik Sjölin, cello
MOZART Quartet for Strings in E-flat major, K. 428
SCHUBERT Quartet for Strings in G major, D. 887
Musical America’s 2020 Ensemble of the Year, the Danish String Quartet is acclaimed for its “intense blend, perfect intonation, and constant vitality and flow” (Gramophone). This lovely Mozart piece is marked by a wandering chromaticism, and a yearning, Brahmsian tenderness. Schubert’s massive final string quartet is emotionally intense, and hauntingly transcendent.
MOZART: Quartet for Strings in E-flat major, K. 428
String Quartet in E-flat major, K.428 (1783)
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-91)
In 1782, the Viennese publishing firm of Artaria issued a set of six new quartets by Franz Joseph Haydn. Haydn described these quartets, Op. 33, as being “written in a new and special way.” Music aficionados went wild for them, and the collection reinvigorated what had become a ho-hum genre during the prior decade. Among those who re-focused on the medium was a talented young composer who had written 16 quartets between 1770 and 1773 and then, like Haydn, paid the genre no further attention. This was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who settled in Vienna in 1781, the same year Haydn penned his Op. 33 quartets.
Mozart decided to revisit the genre himself. This gave rise to the ten masterly string quartets of his maturity, one of the richest lodes in all of chamber music. In 1785, Mozart assembled the first six of those into a collection that he dedicated to Haydn. This Quartet in E-flat major was the third of these so-called “Haydn quartets,” and Haydn heard it played, pre-publication, on January 15, 1785, at Mozart’s home. His enthusiasm was not quite matched by the set’s first reviewer, who in April 1787 opined that Mozart “aims too high in his artful and truly beautiful compositions, in order to become a new creator, whereby it must be said that feeling and heart profit little; his new quartets for 2 violins, viola, and bass, which he has dedicated to Haydn, may well be called too highly seasoned—and whose palate can endure this for long? Forgive the simile from the cookery book.” OK, forgiven; but history has begged to differ.
The key of E-flat tended to extract a mellow mood from Mozart, and this is probably the most consistently warm-hearted quartet of the bunch. Rich lyricism pervades the first movement, which begins with a sinuous melody that teeters uncertainly before finding its harmonic footing—a deeply Haydnesque device. The second movement points into the future, even toward the realm of Brahms, combining wistful dreaminess with an overlay of harmonic suspensions and chromaticism. Its lullaby mood is swept away with the first notes of the Menuetto. Where the opening movement had begun with a leap of an octave, here we have the same interval—but descending, with a forceful accent, resembling nothing so much as a braying donkey. The musette-like notes held over several measures in the movement’s Trio give that section a rustic cast, but the music that unrolls above those sustained tones is more doleful than cheerful: a fascinating, original, and unsettling conception. In the finale, Mozart seems again to be playing the Haydn card, with its sudden rhythmic displacements—and even some unanticipated silences—lending a spirit of Haydnesque wit.
SCHUBERT: Quartet for Strings in G major, D. 887
String Quartet in G major, D.887 (1826)
FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Music-making was an indispensable pastime for the Schubert family, and there is little doubt that the composer not only heard but also participated in chamber music from an early age. He would complete more than twenty works for string quartet in his short life, and of these the last three—in A minor (D.804), D-minor (D.810, the so-called Death and the Maiden Quartet), and G major (D.887)—are universally acknowledged as crowning achievements of the repertoire. Two years separated the first two pieces of the triptych from the G-major, which Schubert wrote in ten days of June 1826. The preceding months had not been happy. Desperately in need of income, he had applied in April for a court musical post, but the position would be abolished. Symptoms of syphilis—incurable at that time—returned after a year and a half of remission. He was having trouble getting his major works into print. A letter from a Leipzig publisher summed up the situation as gracefully as possible: “The public does not yet sufficiently and generally understand the peculiar, often ingenious, but perhaps now and then somewhat curious procedures of your mind’s creations.”
In his G-major Quartet, Schubert explores the relationship between major and minor modes, which pervades both surface and structural behavior in this work. We find it in the opening measures, where G-major chords erupt into G-minor chords; here the duality of the major-minor conflict, often an engine of Schubertian thoughts, moves front and center. When Schubert reaches the recapitulation of this big-boned, discursive movement, he re-interprets that idea of “equating” major with minor by reversing the order in which those sounds are heard. In this opening movement, he seems to think beyond the usual capacity of a string quartet, and near the end he has the four instruments employ multiple-stopping to the extent that they sound fifteen of their sixteen strings at the same moment—a practically orchestral sonority.
In the elegiac, songlike Andante the composer explores other major-minor implications, now in the key of E. Schubert does not let his listeners glide unruffled as the movement unrolls, instead interrupting its flow with passionate outbursts. The third-movement Scherzo lightens the emotional climate somewhat, particularly in the Ländler-like expanses of its Trio section. In the bustling fourth movement, a sort of tarantella, Schubert again plays with his conflicts of major and minor modes, confirming that the concept fuels the entire quartet. This dense, powerful work did nothing to help reverse Schubert’s fortunes, although the Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, reporting on the all-Schubert concert on March 26, 1828, at which the first movement of this quartet was apparently premiered, mentioned that the new quartet movement was “full of spirit and originality.”
With their technical and interpretive talents matched by an infectious joy for music-making and “rampaging energy” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker),the quartet is in demand worldwide by concert and festival presenters alike.
Embodying the quintessential elements of a fine chamber music ensemble, the Danish String Quartet has established a reputation for their integrated sound, impeccable intonation and judicious balance. With their technical and interpretive talents matched by an infectious joy for music-making and “rampaging energy” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker), the quartet is in demand worldwide by concert and festival presenters alike. Since making their debut in 2002 at the Copenhagen Festival, the musical friends have demonstrated a passion for Scandinavian composers, who they frequently incorporate into adventurous contemporary programs, while also giving skilled and profound interpretations of the classical masters. The New York Times selected the quartet’s concerts as highlights of 2012 and 2015, praising “one of the most powerful renditions of Beethoven’s Opus 132 String Quartet that I’ve heard live or on a recording, and “the adventurous young members of the Danish String Quartet play almost everything excitingly.” The Danish String Quartet received the 2016 Borletti Buitoni Trust provided to support outstanding young artists in their international endeavors, joining a small, illustrious roster of past recipients since the Trust’s founding in 2003.
The Danish String Quartet’s 2016-2017 season includes debuts at the Tanglewood, Caramoor and Edinburgh Festivals and Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, where they perform Shostakovich String Quartet in E-flat minor as well as Schubert Cello Quintet with eminent Swedish cellist Torleif Thedéen. In addition to their New York engagement, the quartet’s robust North American schedule takes them to Salt Lake City, Stanford, Ashland and Portland (OR), Vancouver, Kansas City (MO), Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Chicago, Boston, Orono, Dartmouth, Washington DC, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Kalamazoo, Detroit, St. Paul, and Denver, as well as a teaching residency at Dartmouth College. Internationally, they perform in their home country, Denmark, as well as throughout Germany, the United Kingdom, Poland, Israel, and in South America. As champions of contemporary music from Scandinavian composers, the Quartet premieres a new work by Rolf Wallin titled Swans Kissing based on the 1914 series of paintings, “The Swan,” by Swedish painter Hilma af Klint. This work is commissioned by the Quartet for its world premiere in London’s Wigmore Hall in September.
The Quartet’s recent debut recording on ECM Records features works of Danish composers Hans Abrahamsen and Per Nørgård and English composer Thomas Adés and received five stars from The Guardian, praised as “an exacting program requiring grace, grit and clarity and the Danish players sound terrific...It’s a sophisticated performance.” The recording debuted at #16 on the Billboard Classical Chart and continues to earn international acclaim. They also recently presented the US premiere of Danish composer Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen's Quartet No. 7 "The Extinguishable" at the University of Chicago. In addition to their commitment to highlighting Scandinavian composers, the Danish String Quartet derive great pleasure in traditional Nordic folk music.
Since winning the Danish Radio P2 Chamber Music Competition in 2004, the quartet has been greatly desired throughout Denmark and in October 2016 they present their tenth annual DSQ Festival, a four-day event held in Copenhagen that brings together musical friends the Quartet has met on its travels. In 2009 the Danish String Quartet won First Prize in the 11th London International String Quartet Competition, as well as four additional prizes from the same jury. This competition is now called the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition and the Danish String Quartet has performed at the famed hall on several occasions, including their final concert of the 2015-2016 season performing a program of Beethoven, Janáček and Neilsen.
The Danish String Quartet was awarded First Prize in the Vagn Holmboe String Quartet Competition and the Charles Hennen International Chamber Music Competition in Holland First Prize as well as the Audience Prize in the Trondheim International String Quartet Competition in 2005. They were awarded the 2010 NORDMETALL-Ensemble Prize at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival in Germany and, in 2011, received the prestigious Carl Nielsen Prize.
In 2006, the Danish String Quartet was Danish Radio’s Artist-in-Residence, giving them the opportunity to record all of Carl Nielsen's string quartets in the Danish Radio Concert Hall, subsequently released to critical acclaim on the Dacapo label in 2007 and 2008. The New York Times review said “These Danish players have excelled in performances of works by Brahms, Mozart and Bartok in New York in recent years. But they play Nielsen’s quartets as if they owned them.” In 2012 the Danish String Quartet released an acclaimed recording of Haydn and Brahms quartets on the German AVI-music label. Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times said: “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...” They recorded works by Brahms and Fuchs with award-winning clarinettist Sebastian Manz at the Bayerische Rundfunk in Munich, released by AVI-music in 2014, and are currently signed with ECM Records.
Violinists Frederik Øland and Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen and violist Asbjørn Nørgaard met as children at a music summer camp where they played both soccer and music together, eventually making the transition into a serious string quartet in their teens and studying at Copenhagen’s Royal Academy of Music. In 2008 the three Danes were joined by Norwegian cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin. The Danish String Quartet was primarily taught and mentored by Professor Tim Frederiksen and have participated in master classes with the Tokyo and Emerson String Quartets, Alasdair Tait, Paul Katz, Hugh Maguire, Levon Chilingirian and Gábor Takács-Nagy.
Photo: Caroline Bittencourt
Where are the chamber music series performances held?
Bravo! Vail Chamber Music Series concerts at held at Donovan Pavilion, located at 1600 S Frontage Rd W, Vail, CO 81657.
What time do performances begin?
Concerts start promptly at 6:00PM. Doors open 30 minutes prior. Give yourself plenty of time to park and get to the venue. Latecomers will be escorted to seats by ushers at an appropriate interval.
Where do I park for Chamber Music Series performances?
Free parking is available at Donovan Pavilion.
How long do concerts last?
Concerts generally last 90 minutes to 2 hours including a scheduled intermission.
How do I buy tickets?
Tickets, passes, and gift certificates may be ordered in the following ways:
1. Online: bravovail.org
2. By phone 877.812.5700
3. In person: Bravo! Vail 2271 N Frontage Rd W Suite C, Vail, CO 81657
Bravo! Vail accepts American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. There is a $2 fee per ticket. Tickets are delivered by mail or email, or may be picked up at Will Call.
What are the Box Office hours?
Bravo! Vail Box Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9AM to 4PM. During the Festival, hours include Saturday & Sunday from 10AM to 4PM. The Bravo! Vail Box Office can be reached at 877.812.5700. Tickets are also sold at the Donovan Pavilion one hour prior to concert.
Where is the Will Call window?
Will Call tickets may be picked up one hour prior to the concert at the Box Office table located to the right of the entrance of Donovan Pavilion.
Does Bravo! Vail offer group pricing?
Discounts for groups of 15 or more are available for select concerts. Please call 970.827.4316 for more information.
What if I buy tickets and cannot attend?
While our standard policy is that tickets are non-refundable, we understand the necessity to be flexible in these unprecedented times. Should you need to change your plans to attend a concert this summer, we ask that you consider donating the value of your tickets to help support Bravo! Vail's ongoing mission of enriching people’s lives through the power of music. If you prefer a refund rather than donating the value of your tickets, please contact the box office.
If we are forced to cancel an event in its entirety, you will have the option to donate the value of your tickets to help support Bravo's mission, place the value of your tickets on account for future use, or receive a refund.
What if I misplace or forget to bring my tickets?
There is no charge to reprint tickets. Please call 877.812.5700 before 3PM on the day of the performance or allow extra time to request new tickets from the Box Office at the venue.
What is the seating plan?
Front-and-center premium seating section at Donovan Pavilion available. Space is limited. Contact the box office for details. All other seating for Chamber Music Series concerts is general admission. All sections are ADA (American Disability Act) accessible.
What food and beverages are available at the concert?
Food and beverages including beer and wine are available for purchase on the back patio prior to the concert and at intermission.
What should I wear?
There is no dress code for concerts.
What are some general rules of Chamber Series concert etiquette?
Please allow time for parking and seating. Concert attendees must silence all mobile devices prior to performances to not disrupt musicians and other patrons. Please limit conversations and other noisy activities during the performance. We recommend eating prior to the concert or at intermission. Parental supervision is required for all children attending Bravo! Vail concerts.
What is the Donovan Pavilion Child Policy?
Chamber Music Series concerts are very intimate. We strongly recommend that parents bring children aged six or older who are able to sit quietly through the entire performance.
What if I lose something at the concert?
Call the Bravo! Vail Box Office 970.827.5700 or the Donovan Pavilion 970.477.3699.
What if I still have questions?
Please contact the Box Office at 877.812.5700 Mon–Fri 9AM–4PM (and Sat–Sun 10AM-4PM during the Festival).
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