String Quartet No. 4

“… appealing and skillfully crafted … Beck writes in lush tonal harmonies and builds elaborate sonata structures around the same harmonic pillars that were in use in the 19th century[.] … But, of course, novelty isn’t the only thing music can provide, and the moody expressiveness of Beck’s writing is its own reward. The String Quartet No. 4, which leads off the disc, strikes me as most successful – the four movements are terse but finely balanced, and they call out tellingly to one another.”

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

String Quartet No. 4 is in four movements.  These four movements are then paired in a non-linear fashion.  The opening Allegro furioso is interrupted by a brief Allegretto, which acts more as an interlude to the fast music than as a complete contrasting section.  This more graceful music is, in fact, a foreshadowing of the third movement, and will be more fully developed when it returns at that time.  The second movement, Grave, is in the character of a hymn or a spiritual – the music from this movement will return towards the end of the last movement, both as a reminiscence, and as a part of a summary and closing of the entire work.  In addition, brief gestures from the opening movement attempt to break into the final closing bars, but the energy from these gestures is not enough to rouse the music at the end, which soon disappears in a tonal haze of floating harmonies.

String Quartet No. 4 was composed in Yorba Linda, California, from the Fall of 1999 to the Spring of 2000.  It was premiered by the San Gabriel String Quartet on 17 March 2001 in a concert of my works at California State University, Fullerton.  Recorded by that ensemble, it appears on my 2013 CD String Quartets.

2 violins, viola, cello
Date completed:
ca. 17:00

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String Quartets
String Quartets

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