Danish String Quartet: six concerts, nine hours, 16 Beethoven quartets

Posted on: February 24, 2020

“Almost 15 years ago, the men of the Danish String Quartet—they were in their 20s, at the time, and still called themselves the ‘Young’ Danish—said in an interview that they would need to become more mature before daring to play Beethoven’s late string quartets in public,” writes Anthony Tommasini in Wednesday’s (2/19) New York Times. This month, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presented the group in “a series of six concerts … devoted to all 16 of Beethoven’s quartets performed in chronological order…. This is only the second time they attempted a daunting complete cycle—about nine hours of music. Alice Tully Hall was packed for all six programs, which opened on Feb. 7 and concluded on Tuesday…. It’s always difficult to bring fresh takes to pervasively familiar repertory, but the standard set by this quartet will be especially hard to top…. They have a shared sensibility and richly blended sound. But that doesn’t stop their individual musical characters from continuously shining through…. After the series ended on Tuesday with the Quartet in F (Op. 135), they returned to the stage without their instruments, joined arms shoulder-to-shoulder and smiled to the cheering audience. They gave Beethoven the last word.”