“Each album presents a particular Bach fugue that is connected to a late Beethoven quartet that is in turn connected to a quartet by a later master. A beam of music is split through Beethoven’s prism.”

That’s part of the reasoning the Danish String Quartet – Frederik Øland and Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen (violins), Asbjørn Nørgaard (viola) and Frederik Schøyen Sjölin (cello) – give for embarking on their five-volume and live concert series PRISM project, which takes Beethoven’s last five string quartets and shows how it relates both to a Bach fugue (often in the same key) and a post-Beethoven string quartet.

Danish String Quartet

As the Quartet’s note to this third and latest volume in the series also explains, Beethoven was “obsessed” with Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier during his last years, and “derived many of the melodic motifs in his five late quartets” from it.

Prism I features Beethoven’s String Quartet No 12, Op. 127 in E Flat, a Bach fugue in the same key and Shostakovich’s String Quartet No 15 in E Flat Minor. Prism II comprises Beethoven’s String Quartet No 13,...