Doric String Quartet

Biography

Alex Redington Violin
Ying Xue Violin
Hélène Clément Viola
John Myerscough Cello

“the Doric String Quartet led a spellbinding series of concerts, rich in variety, impeccable in execution.”

The Guardian, 27 October 2018 (Snape Maltings, Britten Weekend)

Firmly established as one of the leading quartets of its generation, the Doric String Quartet receives enthusiastic responses from audiences and critics across the globe. With repertoire ranging from Haydn through to Bartok, Ades and Brett Dean, the Quartet’s schedule takes them to the leading concert halls around the world including Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Konzerthaus, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Louvre, Carnegie Hall and Kioi Hall Tokyo as well as regular performances at Wigmore Hall.

A highlight of the Quartet’s 2019/20 season programming is Brett Dean’s String Quartet No 3, written specifically for the Quartet. Given its world premiere in June 2019, “Hidden Agendas” was co-commissioned for the Doric by the Berlin Konzerthaus, Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam String Quartet Biennale, Edinburgh International Festival, Musica Viva Australia and the West Cork Chamber Music Festival and the piece has country premieres across 2019 and 2020. Other 19/20 highlights include a tour of Japan with performances in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya and tours to Israel and the USA. The Quartet’s four performances at the Wigmore Hall include an all-Britten evening as well as a continuation of its collaboration with Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien. Performing the Chausson Concert alongside works by Lekeu and Debussy, the artists also take this collaboration to the Vienna Konzerthaus, Musée du Louvre, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie and Amsterdam Muziekgebouw.

With a curiosity for repertoire and setting, the Quartet was delighted to take on John Adams’ “Absolute Jest” for String Quartet and Orchestra. The Quartet was invited to give the Austrian premiere at the Vienna Konzerthaus with John Adams conducting, the Dutch premiere with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic at the Concertgebouw under Markus Stenz and performed the piece in Glasgow with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Their recording of the piece with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Peter Oundjian, released on Chandos in 2018, was named Recording of the Month in BBC Music Magazine and praised for the “sumptuous sweetness and laser-like clarity” of its performance. In 19/20 they perform “Absolute Jest” with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Joana Carneiro.
Alongside main season concerts the Quartet has a busy festival schedule and has performed at the Schwarzenberg Schubertiade, Grafenegg, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schwetzingen, Edinburgh, Aldeburgh, West Cork, Cheltenham, Delft, and Risør Festivals, collaborating with artists including Ian Bostridge, Mark Padmore, Alexander Melnikov, Pieter Wispelwey, Jonathan Biss, Chen Halevi, Elizabeth Leonskaja, Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien.

Since 2010 the Doric Quartet has recorded exclusively for Chandos Records, with their releases covering repertoire ranging from Schumann through to Korngold and Walton as well as works with orchestra including Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro and John Adams’ Absolute Jest. 2019 saw the release of the Quartet’s benchmark recording of the complete Britten String Quartets which gathered glittering reviews across the board. Recorded at Snape Maltings Concert Hall in conjunction with a series of performances at the Britten Weekend celebrations, the disc was Album of the Week in The Sunday Times, Editor’s Choice in Gramophone and saw the Doric praised in BBC Music Magazine for its “extraordinary affinity” with Britten’s music. The Quartet’s ongoing commitment to Haydn has so far seen them record the complete Opus 20, Opus 76 and Opus 64 Quartets with the recordings attracting acclaim including Editor’s Choice in Gramophone, Choc du Mois in Classica Magazine and a shortlisting for a Gramophone Award. Future releases include quartets by Mendelssohn and the complete Haydn Opus 33 Quartets.

Formed in 1998 the Doric String Quartet won first prize at the 2008 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition and 2nd prize at the Premio Paolo Borciani International String Quartet Competition. In 2015 the Quartet was appointed as Teaching Quartet in Association at the Royal Academy of Music in London and from 2018 the Quartet took over the Artistic Directorship of the Mendelssohn on Mull Festival, a position which sees them play a key role in implementing the Festival’s core mission of providing young chamber music professionals with a week of intensive mentoring, coaching and development.

The Quartet’s violist Hélène Clément plays a viola by Guissani from 1843, generously on loan from the Britten-Pears Foundation and previously owned by Frank Bridge and Benjamin Britten.

2019/20

Calendar
Repertoire
Review
CD: Britten & Purcell: String Quartets
Gramophone
Mon, 2019-04-01
(...)The performances are all superbly judged and controlled, balancing fragility with strength, restraint with great depth of feeling. The opening of the First, with its high, ethereal phrases offset by worldly, guitar-like cello twangs, is rich with ambiguities, while the Andante calmo, its long violin solo played with exquisite poise by Alex Redington, grieves quietly for the war-torn England Britten left behind during his American sojourn. In the Second, the Doric offset formal logic with deep emotional resonance, sweeping us through the ceremonies and wonders of the final Chacony with great refinement and dignity before we reach the final moments of assertion and grandeur. The Third, haunted by thoughts of imminent mortality, bids farewell to life and love with quiet dignity and gazes towards infinity as time ticks away towards the close: it’s wonderfully done, and you can’t help but be moved by it. The early Divertimenti, played with considerable wit and elegance, provide some much-needed contrast to the intensity of it all, while the counterpoint of Purcell’s Fantasias is finely realised in performances of considerable weight and finesse. (...) But this is a major cycle, engaging and profound in equal measure, and you need to hear it.
Snape Maltings, Oxford
The Guardian
Sat, 2018-10-27
..."Yet far more noticeable in this second quartet are echoes of the sparkling, urgent, briny orchestral writing in Peter Grimes (1945), which Britten had just completed, the great turning point in his career. The Doric Quartet gave a molten performance, each musician – violinists Alex Redington and Jonathan Stone, viola player Hélène Clément (who plays the instrument that once belonged to Britten himself), cellist John Myerscough – strong and independent, pulling together as one: as you’d hope, but don’t always get, from any top quartet ensemble. They have just recorded the complete Britten quartets: it will be an essential purchase." Britten weekend ★★★★★
Scintillating Britten from the Doric String Quartet at Snape Maltings
BachTrack
Mon, 2018-10-22
At their heart were gripping performances of Britten’s mature chamber works by the Doric String Quartet, four musicians of rare taste and virtuosity who were steeped in this repertoire on the back of a week spent recording them for Chandos. ..."That future call to Abraham seemed to echo more strongly than usual in the Dorics’ scintillating account of the Second Quartet, where a similar motif closes the first movement. Not even divine intervention, though, could have prepared the listener for the group’s overwhelming account of the work’s closing Chacony, a 17-minute slow-burner that starts in fateful-sounding unison before fraying into threads that interlace with a searching need. It’s that yearning again, but here writ large. No wonder Britten waited 30 years after this before returning to the quartet form. The Doric players located the music’s elusive pulse and infused its every beat with virtuosic commitment, their instinct for drama intensifying as the score’s textures thickened and stretched. It was bravura playing". Mark Valencia
Superb performances bring out all the subtlety and wonder of these quartets
The Strad
Tue, 2018-05-01
Recording: Haydn Six String Quartets op. 64 Doric Quartet The Doric Quartet audibly relishes Haydn's games. The players relish, too, the woody sound of their instruments, picked up by the microphones clearly without being over-analytical, and with just enough sense of space around their individual sounds. Op.64 isn't often favoured to the same degree as the pioneering op.33 or the fully mature op.76 but the Doric makes a fine case for it. To be sure, these players aren't above playing fast and loose with some of Haydn's tempo or dynamic directions. Some might think such an approach too much; others will feel that such an interventionist outlook — taking the score as a starting point, not as gospel — is the very soul of interpretation. Whichever way you feel, there's no denying that each note here has been picked up, viewed from every angle and placed carefully back in its array. The range of sounds the Doric produces, from clarion calls to whispering, vibrato-lite pianissimos, demonstrates the quartet's appreciation of the architecture as well as the filigree of the music. This is challenging in the high-jinks of the finales and the harmonic shifts of the minor-key movements. It's also hugely enjoyable to be led through these subtle, wonderful works by such enthusiastic guides. By: David Threasher
Haydn String Quartets
The Sunday Times
Sun, 2018-02-25
HAYDN String Quartets, Op 64 Doric Quartet Chandos CHAN10971 The Op 64s are among Haydn’s least played quartets: only the Lark, No 5, is familiar (as the great conductor and violist Pierre Monteux said when he astonished listeners by performing it from memory, “Everybody knows ze Lark”). Yet what treasures of invention, innovation, humour and beauty they contain. No 6 in E flat is a particular delight, but so is much else in these richly varied works, to which the excellent Doric players do ample justice. DC
Doric String Quartet at Wigmore Hall
Classical Source
Wed, 2017-11-08
This concert completed the Doric Quartet’s survey of Haydn’s Opus 20 at Wigmore Hall; and, as with the first three, sympathetic attention to every phrase was of the essence. The quiet opening thirty-six bars of No.4 were taken in a relaxed, highly expressive manner – almost as if it were a thoughtful introduction even though Haydn marks the score Allegro di molto. This carefully considered phrasing typifies the approach to these works and often revealed deep insight into the music. An interesting example of attention to detail occurred in the succeeding variation movement where the theme tended to relax on repeats. It is a feature of the Doric approach that a repeat (and all were made) is not necessarily the same as the first time through. Next a controversial approach to two movements of Hungarian nature: the Minuet marked Allegretto alla zingarese was taken at a racing Presto which tumbled wildly forward giving the cello-led Trio no chance of keeping up to speed – nothing Hungarian remained – and the fast and furious Finale was exciting enough if with no chance of hearing all the notes. Such eccentricity was a ‘Doric moment’ during a masterful evening of revealing interpretation. The intense and beautiful performances of the remaining two works were very satisfying. In the extensive opening movements every turn of phrase was infused with meaning, making these relatively early Quartets seem as mature as any of the composer’s later such works. In the Adagio movements the Doric members again achieved their quiet magic Nor was there any problem with the Minuets – that of No.5 strode firmly and colourfully and in that of No.6 I can forgive the Trio ending so dreamily because this indulgence made the return to the Minuet seem so witty. This was a period when Haydn often closed Quartets with a fugal movement. That of No.5 is serious; that of No.6 more joyful. Both begin sotto voce and here the Doric’s approach was wonderfully effective – hushed, tense, very fast and with every intricate detail clearly evident; such quiet moments revealed Haydn’s innermost thoughts with utmost sensitivity, also evident in the gentle interpretation of the slow movement of Opus 64/3 given as an encore. Reviewed by Antony Hodgson
Sydsvenskan
Thu, 2017-09-21
"I have never heard such a wonderful romantic version of Beethoven's String Quartet Opus 135 as the British Doric Quartet played. A veiled and distant sound were combined in a fascinating way with subtle but effektive nuances. It could have seemed artificial if the interpretaion had not been so deeply convincing. In the last movement Beethoven asks a question full of anguish. Here Doric let the romantic veil fall and let the question stand naked. And when followed with Schubert's last quartet the veil lay in rags around their feet - but could for short moments suddenly appear whole again. Schubert's contrasts between hard reality and dream were expressed with the greatest clarity and at the same time so well balanced that not even strong effects seemed exaggerated. In the harrowing second movement Schubert stepped forward pointing towards Stravinsky." Tobias Lund
Doric Quartet review: Fab four's flawless performance
The Sydney Morning Herald
Wed, 2019-06-12
Concertgoers to the Melbourne Recital Centre have been spoilt rotten this year by a number of top notch string quartet recitals. But if the bar for quartet excellence was already set stratospherically high, the UK’s Doric Quartet has surely launched it into orbit. Their approach is a daring paradox; playing that is at once reverent to the music’s historical essence yet radical in its interpretive vision. This proved a stunningly successful gambit in Haydn’s second Op 33 quartet, "The Joke". It’s always a thrill to see musicians of this calibre pull out all the stops, but it was the judicious restraint and expressive flexibility of this account that brought it so vividly to life. A masterclass in ego-free virtuosity, the Doric revealed a wonderful sense of wit and whimsy, with the work's "gotcha" false ending as close to wink-made-music as I’ve ever heard. The best chamber ensembles share a unanimous intent, but the level of unity within the Doric seemed nothing short of telepathic during their performance of Schubert’s mammoth Quartet No 15 in G major. This emotionally complex rendering implicitly understood the tension between the epic and intimate, channelled through this work's restless reinventions and major-minor tug-of-war.
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