The Coolidge Quartet
A Ringing Scoop
Translated from the Danish newspaper Frederikshavn Avis @ Vendsyssel Tidende / 11 October 1997

FREDERIKSHAVN: The association Ny Musik i Frederikshavn had made a real scoop engaging the young American string quartet Coolidge String Quartet.

The four musicians master all technical challenges to perfection, and inspired the audience with their enthusiasm and extraordinary musicality, their eminent concentration and discipline.

They have succeeded in creating the homogeneity of sound and the precision of ensemble playing which a modern quartet in the top class must posses in order to interpret complex, original works.

The opening piece was the first performance of Niels Chr. Rasmussen’s "Tre Stykker for Strygekvartet" (Three pieces for string quartet), which fully protruded with all of its nuances and shadings in a musical progress, where voices are gathered and dispersed, developed and changed in a convulsion between lyrical-meditative sequences and more dramatic passages. It suited Rasmussen’s music to be taken in the hands of this international ensemble.

Native American Notes was surely the most exciting experience of the evening. The composer Greg A. Steinke is inspired by poems on the Indian fights for survival of their culture, seen through the perspective of the revolutions in Eastern Europe 1989. The work (1990) describes the meeting and conflicts among various cultures. It is so to speak a tour de force with post-modernistic collage-character, where quotations from the musical history (Dies Irae, Bach, Bartok, Sjostakovitch) are collocated with Indian folk music and sound painting from the prairie. The performance was electrifying, and the work definitely worth hearing again.

Anders Koppel’s string quartet, first performance no.2, bears the impress of the composers roots of rock music (Savage Rose) and folk music (Bazaar). The rhythmical element is at focus, but in the long run the exotic sensuality stagnated in the lengthy repeated rhythm themes.

Benjamin Britten was the classical modernist of the evening with a string quartet from 1941, played with frankness and vigour, which brought out the sudden shifts between ethereal passages and more violent outlets to full display.

The quartet showed no sign of fatigue - if anything they grew better and better - and showed in the encore that they also master the classical repertoire: We got the finale from one of Mozart’s well-known quartets, played in a marvelous kehraus, a sovereign closing to a wonderful evening.