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Jens F. Laurson, May 2017

Rued Langgaard (1893–1952) is a strangely wonder-full romantic composer, whose 16 symphonies cover the gamut from massively delightful to charmingly bizarre. …the Nightingale String Quartet adds a pinch of extra enthusiasm, vigor, and exactitude. © 2017 Read complete review

Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, March 2014

LANGGAARD, R.: String Quartets, Vol. 1 (Nightingale String Quartet) 6.220575
LANGGAARD, R.: String Quartets, Vol. 2 (Nightingale String Quartet) 6.220576

The Nightingale Quartet…have a collective temperament ideally suited to Langgaard’s sometimes quirky creations, and acquit themselves well on these highly acclaimed releases.

Their perspicacious melodic phrasing, attention to dynamics, and well-chosen tempos give us some significant additions to the composer’s recorded repertoire, and include the finest version of the third quartet now available. Hopefully their concluding efforts in this series will be just as rewarding.

The stereo tracks on these hybrid discs consistently project a generous soundstage with the instruments ideally placed and captured in nourishing reverberant surroundings. © 2014 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review

Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle, July 2012

This superb recording by the excellent Nightingale String Quartet is the first installment of a projected complete cycle of Langgaard’s nine string quartets, and it makes one wonder what else we’ve been missing. Langgaard’s style teeters on the edge of late Romanticism and the Expressionist fervor of the early 20th century, with lush tonal writing cheek by jowl to ripely aggressive bursts of sound. Langgaard’s most notable signature—and perhaps this is what alienated his contemporaries—is a restlessness of mood and form; he’s constantly shifting gears in ways that might seem arbitrary at first. But the pieces unfold with a compelling emotional logic, and some of the music here—the gorgeously pictorial third movement of the String Quartet No. 2 (“Landscape in Twilight”), or the fierce opening movement of the String Quartet No. 3—is simply breathtaking. I can’t wait for the next release. © 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Read complete review

Terry Robbins
The WholeNote, June 2012

The Danish composer Rued Langgaard (1893–1952) is a new name to me, but if the music on String Quartets Vol.1 (DACAPO 6.220575) is anything to go by then I’ve really been missing something. Denmark’s Nightingale String Quartet is simply superb in this first volume of a series of all nine quartets…Landscape in Twilight, is a simply beautiful pastoral episode. The String Quartet No.3 from 1924, the quite lovely single-movement String Quartet No.6 from 1918 (Langgaard’s numbering system is quite confusing!) and the variations on the chorale melody Mig hjertelig nu laenges complete a revelationary CD.

Beautifully recorded at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and issued on Denmark’s national record label, these performances are as close to definitive as you can get. Wonderful stuff, and I can’t wait to hear the rest of the series. © 2012 The WholeNote Read complete review

Stephen Johnson
BBC Music Magazine, June 2012

Langgaard has provocative vitality and fragile sensitivity © 2012 BBC Music Magazine

David Fanning
Gramophone, June 2012

With its strenuous, conflictual rhythms and flighty inventiveness, No 2 (1918) sets the bar high; and No 3 (1924) displays a concentrated blend of eruptive combativeness and whimsical extravagance that is if anything even more impressive…the ‘Sixth’ Quartet…[are] resourceful and their relaxed tone is welcome as a respite from the high metabolic rate of the main works on the disc.

Then there is the contribution of the Nightingale Quartet. This young Danish ensemble throws itself into the music with a vehemence and sense of purpose that go far beyond the pioneering venture of the Kontras…they bring such impetus and fire…Dacapo’s re-recording of these works is more than welcome; and to call the second volume ‘eagerly anticipated’ would be a massive understatement. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

John Miller, May 2012

There is an excellent essay in the booklet which…gives a helpful chronological overview, together with invaluable notes on the musical contents.

String Quartet no. 3…is pure expressionism, its first movement, marked “Rapacious” being one of Langgaard’s most aggressive movements. It is followed by a Presto scherzo marked “Artful”, very brief and mysteriously ending with a series of detached pizzicato/slapstring chords.

…all of these many sections manage to come together and cohere to produce a meaningful and attractive listening experience, especially when played with such skill and insight as invested by the Nightingale Quartet.

The final work on this disc is a set of variations on an old hymn/chorale, ‘O Sacred head! Now wounded!’…This is the most classical of the works for string quartet, springing clearly from the late Beethoven quartets. The solemn, sustained assertion of the theme is moving, and the following seven variations ingenious and inventive.

DaCapo already have a fine set of Langgaard quartets in their catalogue, from the Kontra Quartet. But without a doubt the Nightingale Quartet outshine them, bringing a refreshingly zestful approach which is captivating. They understand the composer’s staunch independence and unique personality, his sweet lyricism, passionate romanticism and experimental intellectual temperament. Their tone is pure, ensemble precise and dynamic control superb.

DaCapo’s new set also supersedes the old in its marvellous recording quality. The Concert Hall of the Royal Danish Academy is a most sympathetic venue for chamber music, preserving its intimacy yet investing the tone with a realistic bloom.

If you are already a Langgaard fan, this will be an essential aquisition. If you are interested in chamber music in general and are prepared to relinquish preconceptions, you will find fascinating and challenging music here…Highly recommended. © 2012 Read complete review

Jean-Yves Duperron
Classical Music Sentinel, May 2012

The quartet [String Quartet No. 2]…sticks to a typical sonata-form structure, and deals with commonplace natural occurrences. With movement subtitles like Storm Clouds Receding, Train Passing By, Landscape in Twilight, and The Walk, there’s more bucolic than epic at the root of this music, although the second movement depiction of a Train Passing By will jolt you with its vivid machine-like delivery. Beauty lies at the core of the third movement, while various moods and energy levels mark the fourth. All in all a finely crafted four voice discourse in which each instrument plays an important role.

String Quartet No. 3 is a more audacious work, less concerned with convention than with bold gestures and animated declamations. The first movement alone is very demanding on the players in terms of both technical and emotional demands. The 1:41 middle scherzo is as odd as it is short. In the final movement, Langgaard brilliantly demonstrates how much material can be quickly passed around from instrument to instrument, all balanced out by austere hymn-like passages. This quartet is the other side of the Langgaard coin.

With the single movement String Quartet No. 6, we see the return of a more melodic line, of four instruments working as a team again rather than four individual voices jostling for position. The folk tune at its core is a great example of harmonic fine tuning on the part of the composer, and the final bars of this quartet are steeped in convention and tradition. The Variations on “Mig Hjertelig Nu Længes” amaze by the simple fact that they clearly demonstrate how a composer who was to work so much against the grain of society in later life could write such beautifully cohesive, unified and classically influenced chamber music that could well last fifteen rounds against the old masters.

The members of the Nightingale String Quartet, Josefine Dalsgaard, Gunvor Sihm, Marie Louise Broholt Jensen and Louisa Schwab, have only been an ensemble since 2007 but already possess a musical maturity well beyond their years and interact as a quartet just as well as other ensembles working together 5 times as long. Potentially two more volumes of new music for us to anticipate, hopefully with the same quartet captured in as fine a recording as this one. © Classical Music Sentinel Read complete review

Olivia Giovetti
WQXR (New York), May 2012

Q2 Music Album of the Week

Very quickly, you see why Langgaard languished on the Island of Misfit Scandinavian Music Toys. He emerged in an era when Danish music was moving out of extroverted romanticism into limned lines with all the intricacies of a midcentury modern coffee table. Langgaard was unapologetically, even psychotically florid. His music has that simultaneous blend of vivid brushwork and disturbing imagery seen in an Egon Schiele painting. The surface is aesthetically pleasing, but within minutes you see that it’s a thin veneer covering up aching, anguished symbolism with Wagnerian gestures.

There are schizophrenic switches between tone and texture within movements of the same quartet—take, for example, the second movement of his third string quartet, which dances a line between fin-de-siècle elegance and Freudian agitation (re: the pizzicato movement of Bartók’s String Quartet No. 4) before quickly jumping into the unsettling, sardonic calm of its final movement.

The Nightingale String Quartet extols every such shift and shade on this recording, diving in with a manic giddiness and sensitivity. Langgaard isn’t an object of commentary or psychological intrigue to them, rather he’s a kindred spirit. Makes you wonder what a night out with these four Danish dames would be like. © WQXR (New York) Read complete review, May 2012

The performers bring considerable youthful enthusiasm to the Langgaard quartets, but even more interestingly, they seem fully comfortable with Langgaard’s sometimes uneasy blend of nostalgia and Romanticism, on the one hand, and complex and forward-looking mood swings, on the other. Generally slow, but with some outbursts of intensity, this is a thoroughly Romantic quartet work whose overall effect is very moving, nicely complementing the more-intense mood changes of the numbered quartets. © 2012 Read complete review

David Hurwitz, April 2012

These are remarkable works. They feature a reckless variety of material and encompass a vast expressive range…it is consistently entertaining, expressive, and curiously moving.

The performances here are marvelous, make no mistake. The Nightingale String Quartet relishes every bizarre nuance, from the chugging locomotive in the Second Quartet to the “Agitato orribilmente” and “Burlesco rustico” sections of the single-movement Sixth Quartet. But the playing never turns crude, and never indulges Langgaard’s wackier ideas at the expense of solid musical values. As if that weren’t enough, the program concludes with a mostly solemn series of variations on the hymn-tune “Oh, Sacred Head, Now Wounded”. Keeping this generally slow music moving purposefully forward is no mean feat, but these players manage it effortlessly. The sonics are warm, well balanced, and strikingly realistic. Langgaard was unquestionably a “character”, but he knew what he was doing. So do these players, and so does Dacapo in standing by him. Try this. © 2012 Read complete review

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