The Belgian string quartet Quatuor Danel was established in Brussels in 1991. The members are first violinist Marc Danel, second violinist Gilles Millet, violist Vlad Bogdanas, and cellist Guy Danel. In Europe, Quatuor Danel is regarded as being among the quartets that are the direct heirs of great, now departed quartets such as the Beethoven Quartet and the Pro Arte Quartett, having studied with surviving members of these older ensembles. The group has toured around the world, although the Quatuor Danel has appeared in the United States only one time, at a music festival in Round Top, TX. It has recorded extensively and expansively for disparate concerns such as Megadisc, col legno, Cypres, and CPO. While the Quatuor Danel is most readily noted for its interpretations of Shostakovich (having studied with the Borodin Quartet, as well), the musicians are key interpreters of contemporary music as well, working with composers such as Helmut Lachenmann, Pascal Dusapin, and Patrick de Clerck. By 2011, the quartet had completed five of the six releases comprising the complete works for string quartet by Mieczyslaw Weinberg. The Quatuor Danel makes its home in Lille, Belgium.
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Chamber Music - To be released March 23, 2018 | CPO
Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
Classical - Released September 7, 2009 | Fuga Libera
There's a lot to be said for chronological order, to wit, it's instantly comprehensible. Shostakovich, for example, composed his 15 string quartets in chronological order starting with the youthful and excited First Quartet and ending with his aged and just about dead Quartet No. 15. And while it may be interesting to hear a set of the complete quartets in which chronology is disregarded, the listener is necessarily left looking for another comprehensible order. In this set of the complete quartets by the Quatuor Danel, the works appear in no particular order. Disc three, for example, opens with the penultimate and almost fatal Quartet No. 14, follows with the autobiographical and almost suicidal Quartet No. 8, and ends with the maniacal and almost atonal Quartet No. 12, an order that defies chronology along with comprehensibility. In lieu of an overriding order, the Quatuor Danel's sequence forces the listener to attend each performance individually. This is not altogether a good thing because there's also a lot to be said for ethnicity. While the Franco-German Quatuor Danel was trained by the Borodin Quartet in the secrets of Shostakovich quartet playing, it is still a quite distinctly Gallic-sounding ensemble. There is a nimbleness to its tone and a weightlessness to its sonorities, a sense of tart sweetness in its lyricism, and a touch of dry irony in its phrasing that relocates these truly, deeply, profoundly Soviet works smack dab in the middle of Europe. For those used to the extremely expressive and passionately pessimistic Borodin Quartet performances, the Quatuor Danel's performances may seem decidedly lightweight. For those looking for an alternative to excruciating existential agony, however, the Quatuor Danel's performances are an interesting alternative way to hear Shostakovich. Fuga Libera's sound is detailed, but a bit dim and a tad gray.
Quartets - Released January 1, 2007 | CPO
Even though the dominant figures of Soviet music were Dmitry Shostakovich and Sergey Prokofiev, it has become clear that the work of a third composer, Polish-born Mieczyslaw Weinberg, should be ranked as equally significant. His reputation has rapidly increased in the west due to a growing number of major recordings that confirm his standing, and his impressive compositions are valued by some critics as every bit the equal of any of the better-known modernist masterpieces. In light of the renascence of Weinberg's music, CPO has begun a project with the Quatuor Danel to record the 17 string quartets, and this first volume shows promising signs that the whole series will be required listening. The String Quartet No. 4, Op. 20 (1945), was a product of World War II and it reflects the turmoil of the time, while the String Quartet No. 16, Op. 130 (1981), is a brooding, introspective work of Weinberg's late period, comparable in its fatalistic mood to some of Shostakovich's dark explorations. The Quatuor Danel plays with taut muscularity, and the tension of Weinberg's fiercely dissonant counterpoint is sustained in each quartet through the group's controlled energy and penetrating tone. The close miking may make listening a little disagreeable -- especially when the players' breathing is audible -- but the musical value of these performances is high and listeners should be prepared to concentrate on this album without distractions and to face it without concern for comfort: this is bracing music, indeed, but well worth the effort.
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