Melbourne Recital Centre’s tenth anniversary has provided a fortuitous opportunity for collaboration between the Centre and one of its major presenter partners, Musica Viva Australia. The two organisations are part of an international consortium that commissioned composer, Brett Dean’s third string quartet, Hidden Agendas which is receiving its first performances on this national tour by the Doric String Quartet. Back in 2007 the Dorics performed Dean’s first quartet, Eclipsewhile competing at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. Their performance so impressed the composer that a close bond has now developed between them.

Doric String Quartet The Doric String Quartet. Photo © George Garnier

The Dorics’ many impressive qualities were certainly on display in this generous and varied program. Haydn’s E Flat Major Quartet, Op. 33, No 2, nicknamed “The Joke” was a perfect introduction to the group’s clear tone, careful blending and unanimous ensemble on the one hand, and its empathetic mood-setting on the other. With the occasional sly violin portamentohinting at what was to come, the first movement was played with a straight face. Leader, Alex Redington and second violin, Ying Xue clearly enjoyed a more...