Engegårdkvartetten is a popular Norwegian string quartet known for its incisive interpretations of the cornerstones of the standard quartet repertory, as well as works by both well-known and little-known Norwegian composers. Thus one often finds a mixture of compositions on concert bills and recordings, a potpourri wherein the likes of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Bartók share the limelight with Grieg, Leif Solberg, Catharinus Elling, and Arne Nordheim. But another unusual feature of the group is its seating arrangement, which often features first and second violins separated by viola and cello, or by cello and then viola. Engegårdkvartetten (often billed as the Engegård Quartet in English-speaking countries) has toured heavily throughout Scandinavia, Europe, and the U.K., and have made several recordings, available from the 2L and Simax labels.
Engegårdkvartetten was founded in Lofoten, Norway, in 2006 by the ensemble's violinist Arvid Engegård. Violinist Alte Sponberg, violist Juliet Jopling, and cellist Jan-Erik Gustafsson were the other original members of the ensemble. They made their official debut at the 2006 Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival, an annual event for which Engegård serves as artistic director.
Engegårdkvartetten had immediate success and its first recording was issued in 2008, a 2L CD of quartets by Haydn, Grieg, and Solberg. Tours throughout Scandinavia and Europe helped solidify the group's reputation and a second CD followed in 2010, containing works by Beethoven, Bartók, and Nordheim. Critics hailed the recording and generally found the seating arrangement, different for each of the three works on the disc, a positive feature.
In 2011 cellist Gustafsson departed and was replaced by Adrian Brendel, son of famous pianist Alfred Brendel. Engegårdkvartetten's busy 2011 schedule included concerts in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, U.K., Austria, Czech Republic, and elsewhere. Its first recording for the Simax label was issued in 2011, a disc of Elling works: the D major and A minor string quartets, and the G minor Piano Quartet, featuring pianist Nils Anders Mortensen.