C.F.E. Horneman & Asger Hamerik: String Quartets / Arild Quartet

Making their debut appearance on CD is the Arild Quartet with this Dacapo disc of music for string quartet by two Danish composers, C.F.E. Horneman and Asger Hamerik. The Arild is made up of musicians holding important positions with the Royal Danish Orchestra and the Odense Symphony Orchestra. Romantic, engrossing, and highly enjoyable, the music is from the middle of the nineteenth century.

C.F.E. Horneman (1840-1906) and Asger Hamerik (1843-1923) were cousins who also bore relationships to eminent Danish composers J.P.E. Hartmann and Emil Hartmann. During their pre-teen years, Horneman and Hamerik had even collaborated on a youthful opera before going their separate ways a little later in life. Containing two complete quartets by Horneman but only a brief movement for string quartet by Hamerik, the greater share of this program is given considerably to Horneman. Stylistically, their music strikingly similar.

The sample that we’ve provided so you can assess this music yourself is of the String Quartet No. 1 in G minor. It’s a work of astonishing sophistication, especially when you consider that it is a student piece, written at the Leipzig Conservatory when Horneman was nineteen years of age. The other quartet on this CD, Horneman’s String Quartet No. 2 in D major was written only two years later and is a much sunnier work, capped off with a cheerful, sparkling finale which you can hear on the video below. Anyone who would enjoy discovering romantic string quartets of high quality will welcome encountering this music.

The recording was made at the Takkelloftet Operaen, Copenhagen. It’s a very large space and you’ll notice the rather lengthy decay to the sound, when a movement ends fortissimo for example. The Dacapo engineers have expertly captured the live quality of the hall with no loss of clarity; it’s a commendable achievement, rounding out a superb release.

Album Overview

The music of the two composer cousins C.F.E. Horneman and Asger Hamerik was never properly appreciated in their native Denmark during their lifetimes. Hamerik made his career abroad, while Horneman fell foul of everyone in the Copenhagen musical establishment. Now the Arild String Quartet sheds new light on the forgotten string quartets of the two composers with this debut CD for Dacapo Records.


Composer: C.F.E Horneman

C. F. E. Horneman (1840-1906) was a Danish composer, conductor, music publisher, organisor and teacher. He was pupil of his father, Emil H., and of Richter in Leipzig where he formed a life-long friendship with Edvard Grieg. In 1874 (together with Otto Malling) he founded The Concert Society and in 1880 he established his own college of music.


Composer: Asger Hamerik

Asger Hamerik (1843 – 1923), was a Danish composer of classical music. While relatively obscure today, Hamerik was an influential teacher in the US, as the director of the Peabody in Baltimore for over a quarter of a century, and his works were performed in both the United States and Europe. The most obvious influence in his music is Berlioz.


Arild Quartet


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