Boosey & Hawkes Composer News

Search Catalogue

Lees, Benjamin: String Quartet No.6 (2005) 20'
for string quartet


This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere

Le Petit Trianon, San Jose, California
Cypress String Quartet

Composer's Notes

The String Quartet No.6 was commissioned by the Cypress String Quartet and completed January 29, 2005. The work comprises four movements.
A composer's fingerprint always remains the same no matter how different one work is from another, nor how many years separate each piece. The genre may range from orchestral pieces to piano concerti to operas. No matter. The fingerprint is there.
In each of the four movements there are unexpected turns and resolutions, as in an O.Henry story. The opening of the first movement is dark, agitated, with no hint of a sudden lyrical subject that seems to appear quite without preparation. A slight development leads to a section which is quite intense, then back again to a quieter episode. The movement gains momentum with sharply accented passages and ends quite forcefully.
Movement Two is introduced with a series of quiet, calm chords. A subject in the cello is picked up by the other three instruments and the development which follows dissolves into an episode of sharp accents. A somewhat whimsical subject appears, leading gradually to the elements of the quieter opening and then to the calm, sustained chords.
The Third movement, marked Quiet, Eerie is quite short. Sudden outbursts are followed by flecks of pizzicatti. Quick legato passages whiz by in a unison pianissimo, rise suddenly to a fortissimo and the movement ends on a triple pianissimo played pizzicato by all four players.
Movement Four springs a few surprises. The cello opens with a calm, unhurried statement and is joined by the first violin. An unexpected outburst, brings on a restatement of the cello line. Then, another outburst and another restatement, only this time a totally different element appears, a burlesca. All four instruments engage in a prolonged tongue-in-cheek exchange until the broad outlines of the opening statement appear, this time giving way to a somewhat faster call and response exchange. The final outlines of the drive to the end appear in the form of turbulent string passages that gather momentum, becoming motoric, more violent, and finally come to the climax, observing the marking in the score, "as fast as possible."


Press Quotes


Recommended Recording

Cypress String Quartet
Cecily Ward, violin I / Tom Stone, violin II /
Ethan Filner, viola / Jennifer Kloetzel, cello
Naxos 8.559628

Click here to buy this CD from our online shop



Email Newsletters

Sign up for news updates and offers via email

Audio Visual Gallery

Explore our library of 1500 online scores