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Great Danes. I know nothing at all about animals of the canine persuasion, absolutely nothing. But I met some Great Danes Sunday afternoon. Three of them, in fact, along with one Norwegian (just to provide variety, I guess), and they were Great! If you were at the SA Chamber Music concert last Sunday – and about 300 of you were – you heard something you would never have expected to hear from Great Danes!
If you were at the SA Chamber Music concert last Sunday – and about 300 of you were – you heard something you would never have expected to hear from Great Danes!

To be more precise, these particular Great Danes made up the Danish String Quartet and I have to admit, humbly, that the music they performed was unfamiliar to me; this is a situation I will remedy. I don’t think I’ve ever heard glissandos performed in perfect time and harmony by four stringed instruments, or syncopations so precisely measured. And that was just the first selection, “Swans Kissing.” The Shostakovich was, as promised, dark and a little scary in parts, but I was thinking about the era and surroundings in which it was written. The Great Danes — beg pardon: the Danish String Quartet — took us back to a tragic era in history when a composer could be hauled away to no-man’s land for expressing his feelings and talent. It was a dark time indeed.

But the Quartet livened up the program after intermission with a delightful selection of Scandinavian folk music. They practically danced through the joyful jigs and polkas of the not-so-frozen north. Did the music sound a little like the hornpipes and bagpipes of Denmark’s neighbors to you? I thought so and fully expected someone to break into a reel. Oh well, we know Great Danes don’t dance. Or do they?

I hope you’re looking forward to enjoying the music of a different part of the world at the November 20th concert. Brazil, Cuba, Spain, Italy, France: all with wonderful musical traditions and interpreted by a pair of world-class classical guitarists, the Brasil Guitar Duo.

Meanwhile, think about the remarkable program you’ve just heard and the four young, globe-trotting virtuosos who performed it. They may call themselves the Danish String Quartet, but I will think of them as the Great Danes.

– E Doyle

After Concert Dinner at Paesanos

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