Doric String Quartet playing Haydn’s Op.20 1-3 String Quartet at Wigmore Hall

The Doric String Quartet are a charismatic bunch. Dynamic, supple instrumentalists able to lay bare the complexities of Haydn’s writing, creating a tantalising story in the process.

The remarkable thing about Op.20 is the ambiguity. Captivating ideas are subverted by underlying harmony that challenge assumptions. That these command such attention on a first listen make these key works demanding closer attent.

The third movement of Op.20 No.1 was particularly striking. Agonisingly beautiful. Breathtaking. Teary.

The opening of the second quartet – in which the viola takes on the bass line while the second violin and cello assume the main theme – created a weird kind of fragility. Here the Doric Quartet deftly captured the sense of drama in the score, deployed it with devastating effect. Electrifying.

The abrupt endings and ambiguous melodic ideas continued in the third quartet.

Phrases were open-ended, daring, even dark in places. An air of reconciliation hung around the sometimes operatic third movement, with a relentless series of modulations creating a restless feel in the fourth.

This was a gripping start to the Doric’s Haydn series at Wigmore. I can’t wait to hear more.

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