I’ve written about these fetching and first-rate four before. You could ask why I’m writing about them again. Who knows? Maybe you think I’m playing quartet favourites. Well … ya, I totally am. No shit? It’s kinda what you’re supposed to fucking do. There are lots of quartets out there. But these guys get me more classically tumescent than a coked up conductor with an extra thick rehearsal baton. Alex, Jonathan, Hélène, and John play with a distinct subtlety I rarely find. They don’t throw down their interpretation like they’re the hottest of shits. They blend together ceaselessly. They don’t pusillanimously play like pussycats in a procrastinative playpen pillow fight. They make badass and aggressive decisions. They slow Mendelssohn down to the point of painful. And when “No. 6 in F Minor, Op. 80” drops? Hot damn. My spine tingles like I was submerged in a frozen lake. They hit all the heights without any blurriness. Their notes aren’t smeared all over the fucking place like it was done up by some extroverted and overly expressive potty training infant. Everything on this album is clear as clean creek water.
So, why am I writing about Doric String Quartet? Because Doric String Quartet can fucking get it.
Mendelssohn wrote six string quartets in his lifetime (Straight up? He actually composed seven. Four were later duct taped together and were then published after he peaced the fuck out). Doric picks three for this album (1, 6, and 5). If you listen closely to the first, you’ll hear Beethoven’s badass influence (you can even do a neat side-by-side with this intro to Beethoven’s Harp Quartet, Op. 74). From the first fucking note, you know Doric is here for keeps. With the amount of emotion and intent these motherfuckers put into each bowed line you can’t help but put your own intent in there as well. Shit’s gorgeous.
The 6th is probably the most famous. Mendelssohn was, understandably, a total dickhead after his sister died. Cause of this, the piece is a hot ball of fiery passion. It’s the last he wrote before taking his own geo-exodus. He titled it, “Requiem for Fanny”. I’ve often heard the 6th played with too much heat. Shit comes out like a series of unlubed strippers racing down bone dry metal poles during an arid summer in the desert. Doric slows it down and clears things up. In the end, it comes out like the greatest of spicy food. Sure, it’s spicy as all fuck. Hot damn it’s spicy! But it’s not so spicy that you can’t taste subtlety. In fact, the heat compliments and brings out all the other flavours. You can hear Mendelssohn’s intense frustration over death alongside his grief, and the depression he was in from being old and so unexpectedly alone. Now, that’s some good fucking playing.
I could go on. I could wax poetic about the Doric String Quartet until the cows repurchase their childhood cottage. But, like with any good piece of music, the best thing you can do is to go listen and make your own interpretation. You can dislike everything Doric and hate me with everything you’ve got. Hell, I’d fucking love you for it. I want you to scream at me from atop a mountain and say, “No, you ignorant blog-writing bastard! The Elias String Quartet plays it best!” Just, please, don’t say this shit is “fine”, “okay”, or “good”. The last thing the classical world needs is another sleepy attendant languorously baying out an unenthusiastic “Bravo” to a stage filled with performers giving everything they’ve fucking got. Find your favourites, pick a quartet or two, and love them. These motherfuckers deserve it.