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Grant Chu Covell
La Folia, May 2012

Unpredictable as cascading water, Nørgård’s latest quartets are tight and efficient. The Kroger Quartet captures these works’ remarkable vitality. © 2012 La Folia Read complete review

Jay Batzner, March 2010

The same coloristic worlds that are explored in Nørgård’s symphonies are still at work in the more intimate genre of the string quartet and the Kroger Quartet sounds to be the perfect vessel for these four works. Each of the quartets on this recording were written in collaboration with the Kroger Quartet and these later quartets span the early 90s to the mid 2000s (Quartet 10 is from 2005).

Quartet 7 is a very extroverted display of Nørgård’s colorful style in an approachable harmonic and gestural language. Quartet 8, subtitled Night Descending Like Smoke, spans 5 short movements and captures moods and materials from Nørgård’s chamber opera Nuit des Hommes. The Kroger quartet nails the tense sound, terse language, and microtonality. This quartet is my personal favorite on the disc, even though all four quartets are given rich and nuanced performances and once again display DaCapo’s knack for a transparent capturing of sound.

Quartet 9, Into the Source, tracks the notion of moving against the flow of things. The gestures are energetic and driving throughout, even in the calmer second movement. There is a sense of disquiet that I find foreshadows much of what I hear in the depths of Nørgård’s Symphony #7.

Quartet 10, Harvest Timeless, is the only quartet in a single movement and the long lyrical line that laces the whole movement together feels deeply personal. This might sound strange, but I feel like this quartet is like eavesdropping. I hear the joy and serenity from Nørgård’s Symphony #3 doing battle with the darker tone of Symphony #7 throughout this quartet. Throughout it all, The Kroger Quartet has chameleon-like powers of color shifting and timbral transformation.

D Moore
American Record Guide, December 2008

The prevalence of Nor composers in Denmark never ceases to amaze and amuse me. There’s Nordheim and Nordgren and Nordentoft, Norby, Norholm, and Nordstrom. Yes, I know this is a Northern country, but these composers are all from about the same generation. How do you tell them apart?

Well, in Norgard’s case, he has a long-standing fondness for the expressive use of quartertones. Furthermore, he appears to be one of the most prolific composers in the area—and not just of string quartets. He’s creeping up on Vagn Holmboe in the number of compositions, and that’s doing very well. His first six quartets are on Kontrapunkt 32015, played by the Kontra Quartet. The Krogers seem to have taken over now, and they play these demanding but very emotional pieces with great variety and imagination. I hear voices at one point and at another the cello appears to have his C string tuned down to G or even F. It would be one thing if all these effects and extra-musical clattering and banging were there purely for the unusual, but there is a musical purpose here that makes it worth doing. These are pieces with a rather amazing variety of attitude, some of which is suggested by titles for the works and their movements. This material is well worth exploring, as are most of the Nor composers.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2008

Born in 1932, Per Norgard has taken a place at the cutting edge of modernity in Denmark’s musical life, his catalogue presently containing 375 works. The quartets on this disc were written over the period 1993 to 2005 and if you are just coming to Norgard I would move straight to track 12. It is the one movement Tenth Quartet subtitled Harvest Timeless the name of a plant we also know as Meadow Safron. Here you will find a more lyrical quality and, within Norgard’s abstract sound world, a sense of beauty. This, and the Seventh Quartet, were dedicated to the young Kroger Quartet, a Danish-based group founded in 1999. They have worked extensively with Norgard, to the extent that the composer experimented with them while writing the Tenth Symphony. The result is four world premiere recordings from a most talented group of young musicians. The booklet would indicate that six days were taken to record the works, and you do get a sense of striving for perfection in an idealistic sound stage. For modernists this will be a ‘must have’ release.

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