The concert hall is filling up...and in 15 minutes we go live withe the String Quartet final.
We'll be starting with the HANA Quartet from Munich, playing Nielsen Op 5 (third movement) and Beethoven Op 132 (complete).
Again, it will be interesting to see if the HANA Quartet rotates its violin positions after the Nielsen...as it has in previous rounds.
Here goes - one of the great monuments of the string quartet literature: Beethoven's String Quartet No 15, Op 132.
Listening in the jury are some great figures of the string quartet world who have spent their careers with this music - Clive Greensmith, cellist of the Tokyo String Quartet, Sergei Bresler, violinist of the Jerusalem String Quartet, Maria Bitlloch, cellist of the Elias String Quartet...
What will they be listening for? By now, we know these quartets can play. The jury will surely be listening for character, authenticity, and an ability to tap the depths of that wondrous slow movement which is the heart and soul of this piece.
Beethoven, like no other composer anywhere near him in history, makes countless demands-per-second on quartet players, piles heaps of tension on their shoulders and forces them through apparently ever-changing moods and states of being.
One quality of the HANA Quartet that has impressed from the start is their unity of sound - even the way their instruments seem so well matched sonically.
Now for the heart of this piece: Beethoven's ‘Heiliger Dankgesang’ - his expression of profound joy and gratitude after recovering from illness. This is music that calls for special intensity.
Wow - it takes something to play that Beethoven...and it takes something else to play it in a competitive environment. Hats off to the HANA Quartet from Munich, who have been compelling to watch and listen to all week.
We're taking a short break now, but will be back with you at 18.20 for the next string finalists...and the 'home team', the NOVO Quartet from Copenhagen.
Straight on stage, and straight into Beethoven's Op 59/2 string quartet...the NOVO Quartet, from here in Copenhagen.
Beethoven's Op 59 string quartets - the Razumovsky Quartets - represent a leap forward in stylistic and technical terms for Beethoven. In this, the second quartet, we hear another deeply-felt 'Molto adagio' movement that requires sustained intensity from the musicians.
Well...it looks like the NOVO Quartet changed the running order there, and gave us Nielsen first. So now on to the Beethoven.
It can be astonishing, the number of currents apparently flowing through Beethoven's music at once. Mastering that - making sense and MUSIC of it - is one of the great challenges of playing the composer's quartets.
That was the Allegretto, with its 'Russian theme', now on to the Presto final movement...whose main theme we actually just heard in the Allegretto.
Not long to wait now before our last competitors - the Kleio Quartet from London.
So we're underway with our last ensemble of the day, and our last performance of the competition: Beethoven's Op 59 No 3 and Nielsen's String Quartet Op 13 from the Kleio Quartet from London.
Easy to hear how radical this music would have sounded in 1807 - this particular quartet launching with a dissonant chord.
There are plenty of challenges in this piece, perhaps most of all the fugue in the finale, its subject a whole 10-bars long.
The Kleio Quartet formed in 2019 at the Seiji Ozawa International Chamber Academy. Later that year they appeared at this very competition's last edition - but have two new players since.
This is the Andante movement that William Kinderman has described as 'like nothing else in Beethoven's music.'
The music is underpinned by this apparently inert, six-in-a-bar rhythm, which could be a meditation on Razumovsky's Russia.
This apparently charming minuet is stalked by moments of fraughtness - it will eventually lead to a teetering dominant seventh and then...Beethoven's finale.
Now our last taste of Carl Nielsen - the last two movements of his first string quartet, Op 13.
Nielsen wrote this music in 1887-88. This 'rustic' trio section in the scherzo says a little about Nielsen's provenance - playing the fiddle in his father's traveling wedding band. Folk music, or the ethos of folk music, is never that far from Nielsen's works.
This last movement is an Allegro 'inquieto' - a 'restless' Allegro. It's agitated from the start.
Nielsen's can be a tricky musical language to get into, but these musicians from London seem to be relishing it.
Well, that's the last of the music from this year's competition. Stay on this page, where we'll post details of the winners right here on the live blog. Otherwise, thanks for being with us for the music - and be sure to join us again in 2027!
Don't forget, you can also keep up to date with the jury's verdict over on our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/carlnielsenchambermusic
We should have a verdict for you very soon...
Special Prize for the interpretation of the commissioned piece: Kleio Quartet.
Third Prize, €5,000 - HANA Quartet.
Second Prize, €10,000 - NOVO Quartet.
First Prize, €15,000 - Kleio Quartet.
'We know what it takes, and we were really impressed by you,' say the jury. Congratulations!