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Johan Kvandal: Complete String Quartets

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Johan Kvandal's string quartets nos 1-3 have already been recorded, but here we are introduced to his other works for this classical ensemble. The Engegard Quartet are ideal interpreters of these often challenging works spanning almost four decades of the composer's life. Thus they show the artistic development of one of the foremost Norwegian composers of the post-war generation.

Johan Kvandal was born in Kristiania, soon to be Oslo, in 1919. His father was the composer David Monrad Johansen, who, inspired by Edvard Grieg, strived to combine a national idiom with modern developments in European music. His son can be said to have followed a similar path from the outset, but his musical output is as a whole more European than Norwegian. Through his parents, Kvandal was familiar with the artistic milieu in Oslo and spent summers in peaceful Osterdalen.

He studied organ, conducting and above all composition in Oslo, Vienna (with Joseph Marx) and later in Paris. Here, from 1952 until 1954, he received lasting impressions from Nadia Boulanger and her circle of students and became familiar with the music of luminaries like Bela Bartok, Igor Stravinsky and Olivier Messiaen.

His modernistic style may at times sound quite dissonant, but he steered clear of dodecaphony and serialism. He continued to compose in (neo-)classical forms, feeling that they were by no means a spent force. His second and third string quartets and the two Norwegian Dances date from his post-Paris period.

Johan Kvandal, whose outward appearance was rather timid, was a surprisingly versatile composer with a rich output, who wrote for a wide variety of ensembles: solo works, songs, choral works, concertos and orchestral compositions, including a symphony. His biggest work, the opera Mysteries op. 75 (1993), is based on Knut Hamsun's novel of the same title. Kvandal died in Oslo in 1999, at the age of 79.


  1. Name
  2. Kvandal: Fugue for String Quartet
  3. String Quartet No. 1, Op. 11
  4. String Quartet No. 2, Op. 27
  5. Two Norwegian Dances, Op. 44
  6. String Quartet No. 3, Op. 60
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