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Jeremy Beck (b.1960): String Quartets (4) / Nevsky, Da Kappo & San Gabriel String Quartets

> String Quartet No. 4 - I. Allegro furioso
> String Quartet No. 4 - II. Grave
> String Quartet No. 4 - III. Allegretto
> String Quartet No. 4 - IV. Moderato
> String Quartet No. 1 - I. Grave; sub - Allegro vivace
> String Quartet No. 1 - II. Molto adagio
> String Quartet No. 1 - III. Presto
> String Quartet No. 2, "Fathers and Sons" - I. Fathers
> String Quartet No. 2, "Fathers and Sons" - II. Sons
> String Quartet No. 5 - I. Grazioso -
> String Quartet No. 5 - II. Andante
> String Quartet No. 5 - III. Con moto e preciso

Album Summary

>Beck, Jeremy : Quartet for Strings no 4
>Beck, Jeremy : Quartet for Strings no 1
>Beck, Jeremy : Quartet for Strings no 2 ("Fathers & Sons")
>Beck, Jeremy : Quartet for Strings no 5
Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Four of Beck's quartets are performed here by diverse ensembles from Los Angeles, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Louisville, Kentucky. These compositions reveal key facets of Beck's approach to tonality, rhythm and form. NewMusicBox described his music as 'unabashedly tonal, rhythmically intricate, ...making nods to the past while sitting squarely in the present.'

American Record Guide, January/February 2014
The four quartets on this new Innova were written from 1982 to 2010. The idiom is consistently tonal, harmonious, and easy on the ear, with a recognizably American mix of heartfelt sentiment, busy rhythmic drive, and echoes of Beck's predecessors and contemporaries like Copland in his prairie-pastoral mode, Thomson (Virgil) and Thompson (Randall), Hanson, and Diamond - up through John Harbison, (his teacher) Stephen Jaffe, Kenneth Fuchs, Lowell Liebermann, and many others. Beck writes graciously and warmly for the string consort, and his quartets will likely appeal to most music lovers who enjoy welcoming, uncomplicated, in-the-tradition examples of this hallowed genre. In short: appealing quartets from the past three decades that stick to well-traveled territory. Performances (by three different ensembles) vary from good. All the musicians do play with endearing and communicative involvement in Beck's music. Sonics are fine.


Some important new quartets from this fascinating composer
I first became with the music of Jeremy beck with his amazing "Ion Sound Project" CD, also on Innova. Here is an invigorating new voice trained at Mannes College NYC and at Yale and who writes tonal, dramatic and intellectually stimulating music. The string quartet repertoire is vast and it is a somewhat risky venture writing music that will challenge and interest the players as well as an audience. Beck's quartets completely fill a need for quartet rep that is modern in its perspective but still accessible to the listener, but not in a "throwback" or derivative way. To listen to these four fascinating works in composition order is rewarding because one can hear the development of Mr. Beck's style. (It also makes me wish for a hearing of the third quartet and the story behind it) He comments in the booklet notes tell us that the String Quartet No.1 dates originally from 1982 and he ended up completely re-envisioning the work, with a whole new first movement, from what was the third and a whole new third, Presto. I liked this work a great deal for its somber, moody Grave beginning to the spritely and upbeat closing. The second Quartet, "Fathers and Sons", was my personal favorite in the collection. There is a moving, compelling melody that moves around the quartet in the opening "fathers" almost like a canon. The sound is almost a Copland-esque "Americana" that I greatly admired right through the movement's jazzy transition. The subsequent "Sons" uses motivic elements first introduced in the cello to create a buoyant, propulsive but unrushed feel that leads to tonal centers that connect it to the opening "Fathers" This work was written by Beck in 1989 and performed at Duke University. This is a great piece with much to listen for! The Quartet No.4 was composed in 1999 and has also been written for string orchestra, in the version titled "Sinfonietta". I am familiar with this version from Mr. Beck's "Wave" CD on Innova. This four movement work captures the attention with a swirling melody and a sort of inner tension, as the movement 's "Allegro furioso" implies. I was especially taken with the soft, pensive mood of the second movement, Grave. Beck's Quartet No. 5 was composed in 2006 in Beck's home base, Louisville. I was very fond of this work also; in particular, the sultry opening movement with its somewhat "smoky", blues-tinged mid-section and, certainly, the canonic, bouncy conclusion. If pressed, I would say my two favorite quartets are the second and fifth but, in truth, I enjoyed all of these. I think that Jeremy Beck is a refreshing composer who has found a voice that is uniquely his but whose music does speak to a wide audience. I like all the music I have heard so far and I do recommend this disc highly!
Submitted on 09/03/13 by Dan Coombs 
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Works Details

>Beck, Jeremy : Quartet for Strings no 4
  • Ensemble: Da Kappo String Quartet
  • Running Time: 16 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Beck, Jeremy : Quartet for Strings no 1
  • Ensemble: San Gabriel String Quartet
  • Running Time: 14 min. 4 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Beck, Jeremy : Quartet for Strings no 2 ("Fathers & Sons")
  • Ensemble: Nevsky String Quartet
  • Running Time: 17 min. 49 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Beck, Jeremy : Quartet for Strings no 5
  • Running Time: 14 min. 37 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary