By Betty Kim ’20
As I gain more experience playing in quartets, I realize just how difficult it is to produce a unified, sonorous sound between four different people. Great musical ensembles have it down to a science: it’s not enough to just have the correct intonation, since a seemingly perfect line can be disruptive if it doesn’t blend well with the three other instruments’ sounds. Silences a millisecond shorter than what’s ideal might sound too hurried; a millisecond longer might sound like a gaping abyss. A breath before a beat might change the trajectory of your bow by just a little bit, making or breaking your exposed entrance.
That’s why the Danish String Quartet’s performance at the Hop January 31 was so immersive–exceptional technique, seamless sounds and fluent body language coalesced into a performance that engaged all of the senses. Frederik Øland (violin), Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen (violin), Asbjørn Nørgaard (viola) and Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin (cello) showed incredible musicianship, charisma and focus onstage, with a program steeped in tradition yet innovative: the program included the classic Beethoven quartet as well as some Nordic folk songs (arranged by the quartet themselves), a relatively unusual combination. The program also included a modern work called Swans Kissing, which was inspired by a Swedish abstract painting.
Here’s another fun fact that stands as a testament to the Danish String Quartet’s well-roundedness and hip-ness: Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen is also one of the people behind a YouTube video popular among musicians (especially violinists) called “Itzhak Perlman Shreds Mendelssohn Violin Concerto”–a grand musical prank in which they substituted a violin solo that matches Perlman’s every gesture but is nails-on-chalkboard flat.
I’m a ’20 from Diamond Bar, California currently interested in studying East Asian languages, comparative literature and music. I play violin in DSO and viola in a chamber group, and enjoy experiencing all forms of the performing and visual arts!