Wood Works: The Danish String Quartet
18 September 2014
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.