UCSB Arts & Lectures welcomes back its favorite fab four, The Danish String Quartet, performing a masterful program of Haydn, Mozart, Widmann, and Brahms on Friday, February 23, at 7 p.m. at UCSB’s Campbell Hall.
At first glance, the theme of the program may leave some questioning the connection between a string quartet and hunting. However, these seemingly unrelated concepts have more in common than one may think. And the common thread? Music.
Hunters, particularly those who rode horses, often communicated with each other by means of a hunting horn. These horns, difficult to handle, could play only a limited number of notes, sounding best in great strident calls usually set in 6/8. It is a very distinctive kind of sound, bold and grand, and composers across the centuries have incorporated it into what may be called “serious” music.
This concert offers examples from four different composers. Haydn, the only one of these four who was actually a hunter, incorporates a hunting-horn call at the very beginning of his first quartet. The same sort of 6/8 hunting call opens Mozart’s Quartet in B-flat Major. Though Mozart’s quartet itself has nothing to do with hunting, Jorg Widmann’s Quartet No. 3 is explicitly about the sport, as his comments in the program note make clear. Like Mozart and Haydn, Brahms makes use of the hunting-horn 6/8 meter at the beginning of his Quartet in B-flat Major, but here he uses it to set up a contrast of meter: the first theme of his quartet is in 6/8, while the second is in 2/4.
Violinists Frederik Øland, Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen and 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 officially became a quartet when they were joined by Norwegian cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin.
Today, The Danish String Quartet find themselves at the core of the classical music world, beloved by critics and audiences across the globe who celebrate their “technically adroit and vibrant playing” (The New York Times) as much as the infectious joy they bring to music-making.
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.”
The Danish String Quartet’s expansive 2017-2018 North American season includes more than 30 performances across 17 states, giving debut performances at numerous renowned venues, such as Bravo! Vail and Ravinia summer festivals, Cleveland Chamber Music Society, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Oregon Bach Festival and San Francisco Performances, among others.
For tickets and more information, visit www.ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu.
— Jessica Morelli