The beautiful bearded bastards of the Danish String Quartet are back. Towering the heights of popularity of the Quartet world, and without a fuck to give, they’re diving head first into the heavy shit: The first of Beethoven’s last quartets, Op.127.
*Danish sweets are hurled into the air. Classical music lovers scream at the top of their lungs. As a few fans pass out, others storm the stage. Rune Sørensen and Frederik Øland fight off a few zombie-like fans using their bows and violins. Asbjørn Nøgaard, the viola player, runs away as fast as he can. Smart thinking Asbjørn. Real fucking smart. Fredrik Sjölin stands, lets his cello drop to the floor, pulls a dagger hidden within his gloriously oiled and thick beard and howls like a coyote while ripping off his shirt in a single pull.*
It’s exciting to hear this quartet take on the ever-popular Last Quartets. But these guys add an extra slice of style by pairing this celebrity piece with a Bach fugue (BWV 876 in E-flat Major [arranged by mighty Mozart himself]) and Shostakovich’s final string quartet No. 15. When a quartet puts an album together this way, it’s sure as shit is intentional. To break it down, and figure out why these pieces are put together is all part of the fun of a quartet album.
First off, all these pieces are in E-flat major which makes this shit sound as seamless as maternity pants. But, if you dig deep, you’ll know Beethoven fangirled hard over Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. And, if you listen within Beethoven’s Op. 127, you’ll be able to hear certain motifs from Bach. What’s more, if you listen into Shostakovich’s piece, you’ll hear its relation to Beethoven’s Op. 127. How fucking cool is that?
We all know what happens if you take a light and shine it through a prism. Shit splits different ways and in all those pretty colours. That’s kind of the point of this album. You listen into each piece to find how they link (from Bach, to Beethoven, to Shostakovich) and you stare at all the pretty colours but just, you know, with sound. What makes this album the bomb is not just this kick-ass theme. The Danish String Quartet have got awards and recognition from all over the place. There’s a reason for this. It’s because they’re really fucking good. It’s not that there’s a single swinging dick from some acclaimed violinist or cellist. Their cohesion, subtly of play, and ability to listen to each is what makes them so good. These motherfuckers have been playing together for a long time and it shows. But, more than anything, you can hear that these dudes really love playing these songs. You can tell that, even if they didn’t get awards or acclaim, they’d be sitting in a circle in some North Jutland cottage playing their fucking guts out. That’s the real shit. That’s authenticity. That’s the Danish String Quartet.