This String Quartet is a balance of dramatic and lyrical material, varying greatly. The opening movement begins with poignant polyphony, but then morphs into rapid-fire exciting passage work in the central portion, returning in time to the quieter mood of the beginning. Movement II reminds one of a classic Siciliano, with its dotted rhythmic patterns in the cello, and bitter-sweet melody in the upper strings. The third is a fantasy that abruptly jumps between a recurring riff and sustained, melodic material followed by several variations of the opening material. Eventually, the music calms to a slow, quiet chorale. The chorale then gives way back to the almost violent material of the opening, remaining in that mode until the work comes to a full-tilt, dynamic ending.
A portion of the last movement recalls in spirit the work of the late Donald Erb. Mr. Ramsey was Dr. Erb’s copiest during the last decade of his life. People familiar with his music may find a particular brief passage sited in the score to be stylistically similar to some of his work.