Quintet for Strings (Perle)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Quintet for Strings (1957–1958) is a composition for two violins, two viola, and one cello by George Perle, "in memory of Laura Slobe".

The piece is listed by Richard Swift as a tone-centered composition, rather than as a twelve-tone modal piece or 'freely' composed.[1]

Structure and Analysis[edit]


The work is structured in four movements:

  1. Allegro
  2. Scherzo
  3. Adagio (Variations)
  4. Allegro; Molto Adagio

The first movement is based primarily upon octatonic and secondarily upon whole tone material, and centered on A (with G and B above).[2] The "sonata-like" first movement also presents material used throughout the work: "a descending scalar melodic line, sustained pedal tones, and melodic thirds."[3] Of the third movement, a theme and four variations,[4] Carl Sigmon writes that, "a declamatory cry dominates the movement- a cry so stark that it must be repeated; there is no answer but itself."[3] Its tone center is G, but with A and C above (a whole tone above G and B): "In this fashion, the incipient whole-tone element of the Quintet is embedded in the global tone-center relations."[5] It contains a viola, cello, and violin cadenza in the second, third, and fourth variations, respectively.[6]

It has been recorded on George Perle: A Retrospective (2006) Bridge 9214A/B.


  1. ^ Swift, Richard. "A Tonal Analog: The Tone-Centered Music of George Perle", p.283 & 258-259. Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 21, No. 1/2, (Autumn, 1982 - Summer, 1983), pp. 257-284.
  2. ^ Swift (1982-1983), p.267-269 & 276.
  3. ^ a b Starobin, David (2006). Liner Notes, George Perle: A Retrospective. Bridge 9214A/B.
  4. ^ Swift (1982-1983), p.274.
  5. ^ Swift (1982-1983), p.276.
  6. ^ Swift (1982-1983), p.275.