Doric Quartet at the Third Floor Arts Centre, Portsmouth

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CELLIST John Myerscough, introducing Schubert’s Death And The Maiden string quartet,

joked that he hoped the audience would feel as exhausted at the end as he would. Physically, of course, we couldn’t. But emotionally? Quite possibly.

The Doric players dug deep into this dark forest of a quartet, playing with the purest of tone where necessary but not afraid to crank up the attack almost to the point of ugliness where that reflected the music behind the notes.

This was the first of the Music in the Round chamber-music series, promoted by the University of Portsmouth and the New Theatre Royal, to be given at the Third Floor – and it was genuinely played ‘in the round’, helping to draw concert-goers into the music.

A similar willingness to compromise on sheer beauty of sound was evident in Chausson’s rarely-played quartet, even to the point of some dubious intonation in passages of intense chromaticism.

The gipsy-music rhythms of the minuet were irresistible.