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Danish String Quartet | Prism V: Beethoven, Webern, Bach (2023)


From conception to completion, the Danish String Quartet’s Prism project has been almost eight years in the making: “our string quartet ritual of passage”, as the players now look back upon it, a process of discovery. Lines of connection are drawn in the five Prism volumes, from a Bach fugue through one of the late Beethoven quartets to the music of a subsequent composer: “A beam of music is split through Beethoven’s prism,” in the Danes’ words. Throughout the series the DSQ have emphasized that “late Beethoven is not a disconnected island in music,” but rather “a continuation from Bach and the old masters,” which, furthermore, points toward the future. Previous recordings in the series have addressed the influence of late Beethoven on Shostakovich, Schnittke, Bartók and Mendelssohn. On Prism V, Bach and Beethoven are heard alongside Anton Webern, and musical affinities are newly illuminated. ECM Records

Danish String Quartet
Prism V: Beethoven, Webern, Bach

As the group remark in a performers’ note on Prism V, “The music on these albums is delightfully complex and open-ended…A late quartet by Beethoven is an incredibly intricate piece of art. One can spend a lifetime zooming in on every inch of the score and still find new details. Each bar, each moment is a maze of possible interpretational paths…”
On the fifth and final Prism volume, Johann Sebastian Bach’s chorale prelude Vor deinen Thron tret ich hiermit “opens up like a flower” (as Paul Griffiths writes in the liner notes) to preface Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 16 in F major. Anton Webern’s early String Quartet, composed in 1905 – and inspired both by Beethoven’s op. 135 and Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht – follows, and the programme returns to Bach with Contrapunctus 14 from The Art of the Fugue. ECM Records

Audio CD:

  • J.S. Bach: Vor deinen Thron tret’ ich, Chorale Prelude, BWV 668 (Arr. for String Quartet) (4:56)
  • Beethoven: String Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135 – I. Allegretto (6:53)
  • Beethoven: String Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135 – II. Vivace (3:17)
  • Beethoven: String Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135 – III. Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo (7:40)
  • Beethoven: String Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135 – IV. Der schwer gefaßte Entschluß. Grave, ma non troppo tratto – Allegro (7:26)
  • Webern: String Quartet (18:01)
  • J.S. Bach: The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 – Contrapunctus 14. Fuga a 3 Soggetti (12:18)

Manufacturer ‏ : ‎ ECM New Series
Original Release Date ‏ : ‎ 2023
Label ‏ : ‎ ECM New Series
Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1

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