Wood Works – The Danish String Quartet (2014) [Official Digital Download 24bit/88.2kHz]
Wood Works – The Danish String Quartet (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88.2kHz | Time – 00:49:27 minutes | 835 MB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: dacapo | Booklet & Front cover | © Dacapo Records
Recorded at the Kirsten Kjær Museum, John’s Hall, 4-7 September 2013
We are in the tiny village of Sønderho on the island of Fanø. It is the westernmost Danish island, and the wind lashes the shore relentlessly. Today is the third Sunday of July – it’s ’Sønderho Day’, a local day of celebration, music and dance. From the village hall the sounds of fiddles can be heard, and people are dancing round and round for hours. The music is simple, yet with a touch of exotic melancholy.
In the forests of southern Sweden we find Lasse. He is a traveling fiddler and he provides the music for festive occasions. Lasse is poor, so he will play you some music if you give him a meal. As he can’t afford new strings for his violin, he tunes the ones he has down to make them last slightly longer. His claim to fame is a waltz he is always playing; a little melody that people enjoy dancing to. Sometimes Lasse plays it to himself while sitting alone in his wooden shed.
Up in Norway a young man has just returned from his Grand Tour of Europe. While passing through the Rhineland, he picked up a very popular dance that everyone danced in the elegant salons. He doesn’t know the name of the dance, so he simply calls it a ‘Reinlender’. Wanting to introduce it to his friends, he writes a couple of tunes to accompany the new dance.
Folk music is the music of all the small places. It is the local music, but as such it is also the music of everywhere and everyone. Like rivers, the melodies and dances have flowed slowly from region to region: Whenever a fiddler stumbled on a melody, he would play it and make it his own before passing it on. You don’t own a folk tune, you simply borrow it for a while.
On this recording we have borrowed and arranged a selection of tunes that are all very close to our hearts. We perform them as a string quartet, one of the most powerful musical vehicles we know of. The string quartet is a pure construct: Four simple instruments made of wood. But in all its simplicity
the string quartet is capable of expressing a myriad of colours, nuances and emotions – just like folk music. Our idea is to marry these two simple but powerful things; the folk music and the string quartet. Normally the string quartet has been reserved for the classical masters. 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? We hope so. And remember: We simply borrowed these tunes. They have already been returned.
Every now and then a disc creeps into your ears and stages a peaceful protest, politely but determinedly refusing to leave. The Danish String Quartet’s delicious new album Wood Works is one such – a quietly innovative and unexpected delight, whose charms only grow as the music unfolds track by track.
The premise is simple: folk music is a ‘borrowed’ form, lending its melodies to each new generation to make of them what they will. So here the DSQ take their turn, adapting Nordic folk tunes for the instruments they have to hand: a classical string quartet. The result might be a little too glossy, too ‘finished’ for some, but there’s no denying the depth of colour they bring to their material, and no gainsaying the pulsing rhythms and elegiac melodies that the folk originals themselves contribute.
Don’t let titles like ‘Five Sheep, Four Goats’ or ‘Ye Honest Bridal Couple’ put you off; there’s nothing fusty here, just an elegant fusion of folk, jazz, blues and classical traditions that sings with musical integrity and intelligence. And the playing? There’s a reason that New Yorker music critic Alex Ross is a fan of the group, who are currently participating in the prestigious Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Centre’s Two programme. The Danish String Quartet are definitely ones to watch – or listen – out for. –Sinfini Music, Alexandra Coghlan
Sometimes I will grab a disc off our to-be-reviewed list because it’s something I know and I want to hear a new recording and performance of the work. In this case, I grabbed Wood Works because I knew I wouldn’t have ever heard anything that is on the disc before, and that was merit enough.
Wood Works is a collection of Nordic folk tunes arranged for string quartet. The ‘wood’ referred to is the wood of the stringed instruments. This is a fine disc, with precise and upbeat performances. The music is clearly from the folk idiom, and yet put into this more formal classical setting the works are full bodied and very listenable. Of course nothing on the disc is familiar to me melodically, but no matter. These are passionate performances and melodies you will remember long after the disc has been put away.
The Danish String Quartet is continuing its upward climb and becoming more and more visible in musical circles. The quartet has been working as Ensemble-In-Residence for the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society in New York, it is also part of the BBC New Generation Programme in England.
This CD is likely to garner new fans. This is the second CD for the group, the first being a collection of music by Carl Nielsen. The 13 tracks are a cohesive program, and I won’t comment track-by-track, except to say each piece is played with precision and emotion. I thought a standout track is the emotional Waltz after Lasse in Lyby, which is exceedingly beautiful in performance by the Danes.
From an audio standpoint, the stereo tracks are miked from a midpoint in a fairly large recording space. There is plenty of ambiance in this stereo recording, yet the placement of instruments in space have a solid image. This is the kind of recording that would benefit from a high resolution transfer and mix, but the stereo CD is just fine. –Audiophile Audition, Mel Martin
1 Ye Honest Bridal Couple / Sønderho Bridal Trilogy – Part I 5:10
2 Sekstur from Vendsyssel / The Peat Dance 4:01
3 Vigstamoin 3:20
4 Waltz after Lasse in Lyby 4:42
5 Ribers #8 2:58
6 Sønderho Bridal Trilogy – Part II 3:10
7 Five Sheep, Four Goats feat. Mads la Cour, flugelhorn 4:30
8 O Fredrik, O Fredrik 4:14
9 Ack Värmeland, du sköna 3:15
10 Easter Sunday / Polsk after Rasmus Storm 4:23
11 Jässpodspolska 2:54
12 Old Reinlender from Sønndala 3:05
13 Sønderho Bridal Trilogy – Part III 3:40
The Danish String Quartet:
Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen & Frederik Øland, violins
Asbjørn Nørgaard, viola
Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin, cello