Doric Quartet, Timothy Ridout: Mendelssohn


The Strad Issue: April 2022

Description: Teenage mastery in sensational readings from a crack ensemble

Musicians: Doric Quartet, Timothy Ridout (viola)

Works: Mendelssohn: String Quintets: no.1 in A major, no.2 in B flat major

Catalogue number: Chandos CHAN 20218


As a welcome bonus for Mendelssohn fans, the Doric Quartet follows up its outstanding quartet series with this enchanting disc featuring the two string quintets, with rising star violist Timothy Ridout. The First Quintet belongs to that select group of teenage masterpieces (including the String Octet) that in terms of their creative originality and accomplishment still beggar belief. If Hausmusik (Virgin/Warner) turn inwards with a relaxed warmth and bonhomie redolent of the salon, the Doric players are more dramatically extrovert, relishing the light-as-air scherzo’s gruff interjections with an earthiness that recalls the contemporaneous heehawing of the Midsummer Night’s Dream music.

The fizzing opening movement of the B flat major Quintet (written two years before his death) is one of those glorious tremolando-in-overdrive Mendelssohnian inspirations that sets the pulse racing, and is perfectly caught by the Doric. The classic Pinchas Zukerman/Guarneri Quartet account for RCA/BMG possesses a majestic, impassioned sweep all its own, yet the Doric ensemble is more overtly detailed in its responses, revealing all manner of textural sophistication that often goes for nothing. Typically lucid ambient sound from producer/engineer Jonathan Cooper helps illuminate and clarify Mendelssohn’s exhilarating invention, even at its most ‘busy’. Another winner from these highly gifted players.