String Quartet No.3 in C Major, Op.41
Ludolf Nielsen (1876-1939) was born in the Danish town of Nørre Tvede. He studied violin locally before moving to Copenhagen, where he studied violin, piano and theory at the Danish Royal Academy of Music. As a composer, he was largely self-taught. He served as a violist and also as conductor of the Tivoli Orchestra. At the same time, he formed a string quartet in which he also served as the violist. He composed in every genre and his works enjoyed a fair amount of popularity in Denmark, German and France up until the time of his death.
String Quartet No.3 in C Major was completed in 1920 and its mood is very different. Not only had he lost both his parents to the great influenza epidemic of 1918 but the First World War and its aftermath weighed upon him. His tonal language was greatly altered and several critics found this quartet somewhat programmatic. One critic noted the four movements might be summarized as my roots and fore bearers, my youth, grief and finally, new life and hope. The first movement, Allegretto pastorale, begins softly and simply and grows as an awakening. There is a floating, dream-like quality to much of the movement. The second movement, Allegro moderato grazioso, seems to take up where the first movement left off, beginning in a optimistic mood. There is a quicker and more lively middle sections, perhaps likened to a fiddler's hoe down, and indicative of the fact that Nielsen played the violin professionally in his youth. Unquestionably, the third movement, Adagio con dolore, is the quartet's center of gravity. The beginning of the movement sounds hymn-like with spherical sounds but the powerful middle section is funereal. This movement was often heard on Danish radio on sad pubic occasions. The finale, Allegro, combines a sense of optimism with the horror of loss which can be heard in brief strident tonal moments.
This powerful and thought provoking post romantic Danish quartet has been out of print for decades. We are pleased to make it available and believe it will be of interest to both professionals and amateurs.