As I settled into a seat in the Powell Recital Hall Thursday evening for the Doric String Quartet, I admit I was unsure what to expect from the ensemble. Although I was familiar with their reputation, the range of guest performers in the UT School of Music’s visiting artist program has–as one would expect–varied wildly from acceptable academic average-ness to the famous and absolutely splendid. I can say, most joyously, that the Doric String Quartet belonged to the latter group and raised the splendid end of the bar quite substantially.
Their program of three works represented three distinct areas of repertoire–Haydn’s “Emperor” Quartet (Op. 76, No. 3), Korngold’s String Quartet No. 2, and Beethoven’s Op. 127 String Quartet. In all three works, I was impressed by four things: impeccable intonation, carefully nuanced textural balances, detailed interpretative statements, and a stunning liveliness across all tempos. This combination accomplished a level of musicality that all musicians strive for, but few manage to attain.
I was particularly impressed by the not-often heard Korngold #2, the final Waltz movement of which had a degree of small ensemble excitement that one rarely experiences.
The second half of the program was devoted to the beautifully descriptive Beethoven ; I must confess that it seemed a shame that a work of such complexity and depth could not be appreciated with fresh ears.