7:53am Monday 18th February 2013
Armed with a portfolio of prizes and marketing hype, it was the performance that counted as the youthful Doric Quartet took to the Lyons stage on Friday.
Even a day spent navigating the half-term traffic did not impede the group in drawing extraordinary beauty from the third installment of Haydn’s watershed 1772 set. Unafraid of spacious lyricism, they unravelled the music with glowing dexterity without robbing it of gusto.
The glimpses of ferocity in the finale previewed how their sound would cope with the 162-year jolt forward in time to Béla Bartók’s Fifth Quartet.
A fiery work integrating the folk music of the composer’s native Hungary, the Doric’s reading was passionate yet neurotic, tense nuance slipping towards feral torment.
The twilight-born slower movements especially were delivered with unsettling clarity while an imitation of a dodgy folk band was convincing enough to draw chuckles.
After the interval, the ensemble launched an assault upon one of the pinnacles of the repertoire, Beethoven’s late C-sharp minor quartet. Usually plaintive, the opening suffered from overemphasis and occasionally tentative intonation; only gradually was the simplistic brilliance of the music allowed to speak.
Gaining a foothold, the players caught the fleet-footed lilt of the second movement before illuminating the many shades of the central variations. The bracing pelt of the Presto and the brutal onslaught of the finale that followed made for a breathless close. All in all, keep the hype coming; an act this versatile can live up to it.
- Richard Powell
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