Doric String Quartet

Haydn: String Quartet in D minor Op. 9; String Quartet in C Op. 50; String Quartet in G Op. 76

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The general level of chamber music performance in Britain is high, and any number of young groups are in the pipeline for the future. The Doric String Quartet, formed by a group of participants at a strings seminar called Pro Corda, offers a promising example with this 2009 all-Haydn program, recorded at London's Wigmore Hall. The group applies the early-middle-late template to Haydn's quartets, something that's not done often enough, and execute it well, with works contrasting in overall approach as well as in techniques characteristic of the times in which they were written. In the hands of the Doric musicians, the String Quartet in D minor, Op. 9/4, reveals its fully experimental quality; it appears as a brash, lyrical work overflowing with startling and often dramatic ideas. The String Quartet in C major, Op. 50/2, offers a strong contrast with its collection of abstract ideas, including fugue and melodic inversion. In the final and very familiar String Quartet in G major, Op. 76/1, the group breaks little new ground but plays throughout with a mixture of ebullience and ensemble that's hard to resist. The sound is the only real negative on this BBC radio release; the musicians are somehow both made to sound remote and forced to reveal extraneous bow noise and the like. Still, the listener will likely find it easy to join with the Wigmore Hall crowd in welcoming the Doric's encore, a rapid-fire finale from another quartet in the Op. 50 set.

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