The Coolidge Quartet

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13 October 1997

Young Quartet at the Carl Nielsen Academy
Translated from the Danish newspaper Fyens Stiftidende / 13 October 1997

New Music Odense had invited the Danish/American Coolidge Quartet, who - among other works - did the Danish premiere of Anders Koppels first, and so far only String Quartet.

by Renee Sørensen

There is an enormous difference between the songs of the Apache Indians around the Totempole and the sound of Chamber Music on the polished floors of the Concerthall. There is at least as big a difference on the outcome of two World History events in 1889 and 1989: the almost definitive destruction of the Native American culture and the liberation of the Eastern European countries from the Soviet Republic. None the less is this time of conflict the central theme in Greg Steinkes String Quartet , Native American Notes, which the Coolidge Quartet played on the concerts Saturday at the Carl Nielsen Academy, Odense.

It is East contra West, primitivism/civilization and chaos/cosmos in a piece of program music that uses Native American poetry as basis.

Constantly the music changes between a barbaric tonelanguage like Stravinskij, folkmusic in Bartok-style, settler-songs, Indian hymns and improvisational passages . To this was added a number of trompe l’oeil, sound-dimensions: the scream of an eagle in low flight over the prairie, the sound of a rattle-snake in the sand and the lonely songs of an Indian on the mountain top. Furthermore an old and well-known musical quote: the Medieval theme Dies Irae, the day of Wrath.

All in all it is some of the most beautiful and touching music I have ever laid my ear upon. Nothing less.

The Coolidge Quartet consists of four young musicians, who appears with an extremely professional attitude. Homogenous, close, tight or whatever terms one normally would choose to describe a well-playing ensemble is - however - not how I see The Coolidge. In my eyes the Quartet members are all extremely strong individual players, who manages to take the music to a higher level.

Danish Premiere

The Danish member of the Quartet, the violinist Hasse Borup had commissioned a String Quartet from Anders Koppel which was premiered at the September 30. in New York. And this Saturday we got the Danish Premiere of the piece. With nerve, firm and dark, passionate tone, but also with a ‘ calm middle-section , where time comes to a standstill’, as it said in the program-notes. And that certainly happened. The Quartet , which is in one movement, returns though to its passionate expression, but the middle-section is simply too long.

Despite that, a very promising debut in the string quartet genre for Anders Koppel.


For a comparison, we got some very electrifying interpretations of the first string quartets by the gentlemen Maurice Ravel and Benjamin Britten.

To bad that so many people seem to be scared of the new music scene and chamber music. It was a very listening-worthy concert.

The Carl Nielsen Academy (Saturday): The Coolidge Quartet. Greg Steinke: Native American Notes Maurice Ravel: String Quartet . Anders Koppel: String Quartet No.1. Benjamin Britten: String Quartet No.1 in D.

Read about the members of the quartet

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