String Quartet No. 5


“[T]he Fifth Quartet makes a haunting impression in three movements of contrasting utterances.”

- Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone (Dec. 2013)

“… appealing and skillfully crafted … Beck writes in lush tonal harmonies ... and the moody expressiveness of Beck’s writing is its own reward.”

- Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle (SF Gate)
(Oct. 24, 2013)

This quartet is in three movements.  The first movement unfolds in a clear ABA’ form, where the music suggests two different types of moods. The outer sections are in a graceful triple time while the contrasting middle section (marked “with nostalgia”) suggests a blues atmosphere.  The return of the A’ music continues attacca into the second movement.  Utilizing a key signature of four sharps, the lyrical music of this movement is developed as a kind of theme with variations.

Da Kappo String Quartet premieres Beck's "String Quartet No. 5" at 21C, Louisville, Kentucky

Da Kappo String Quartet premieres
Beck’s “String Quartet No. 5” at 21C
Louisville, Kentucky

The last movement begins with a vigorous and aggressive gesture which returns as a part of the later development of this movement’s musical material.  Following this gesture, the cello introduces the principal thematic idea for the movement, which is developed contrapuntally in a type of canzona style.  Towards the end of the movement, these two ideas (the opening gesture as developed and the cello’s contrapuntal theme) are layered and woven together, driving the music forward to a forceful and spirited conclusion.



Premiered in October, 2010, by the Da Kappo String Quartet at 21C in Louisville, Kentucky as a part of the Hear+Now series, it was recorded by that group (Derek Ratzenboeck and Maxine Kuo, violins; Rebecca Barnes, viola; Peter McCaffrey, cello) for my 2013 CD, String Quartets.

2 violins, viola, cello
Date completed:
ca. 14:00

III. Con moto e preciso

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String Quartets
String Quartets