For twenty years now, the Doric String Quartet has been successfully performing in the concert halls of the music world. The four musicians see themselves as heralds of the quartet compositions of their compatriot Benjamin Britten, who died in 1976. The geographical origin of the quartet lies in the county of Suffolk, Britten's homeland. Pro Corda, the national school for chamber musicians and the nucleus of the Doric String Quartet, is located there, more precisely in the town of Leiston. This ensemble differs from its rivals, who focus on beautiful sound, by a sound ideal that is almost provocatively positioned far away from the beautiful, meticulously detecting dissonants in compositions and making them sound unembellished. This approach makes the Doric String Quartet ideal for Britten's quartet compositions with their chords rubbing against each other violently, which are presented unembellished by this quartet and thus convincingly putting into practice the airy atmosphere of these compositions, blown through by Suffolk's sea climate. The enormous dynamics and the unisono aspects of this music are used to the full by this English quartet. Britten's string quartets, each lasting 30 minutes at most, are one of the hottest quartets of the twentieth century.
The three Divertimenti Britten’s set for string quartet are also taken into account on this album and again performed congenially. Conceived as a march, waltz and burlesque, these divertimenti, as character pieces, take to the extremes what one would expect to be a march, a waltz and a burlesque, including exaggerations and weird distortions. High entertainment value is guaranteed.
Recorded very close-up in favor of an analytical, transparent sound image, these Britten compositions cast a spell over you and won't let you go until you've heard them all in the congenial interpretation by the Doric String Quartet, tingling in your stomach and making shivers running over your back. But before the last Britten Quartet on the album, the Quartet No., is performed, a smaller portion of seventeenth-century English music, Henry Purcell's Fantasias, must be enjoyed as hors d'oeuvre. These four pieces are served free of vibrato, incredibly fresh, lively and vivacious in fast passages. Thus, sound structures reach the surface, which, interpreted conventionally in a beautiful manner, sink into insignificance. Above all, however, Purcell sounds in this interpretation openly, obliquely, sometimes downright disharmoniously, but in any case, rather scratchy offensively, than courtly reserved. Purcell thus becomes a contemporary of Britten, which is why it does make sense to present his Fantasias embedded in Britten string quartets.
Albums that you absolutely have to own are not that common. This album by the Doric String Quartet is undoubtedly one of them.
Doric String Quartet