… the 5th String

Posted by matthias-solo Category: News

It is an absolutely new design of instrument. Roger Graham Hargrave.

Matthias Michael Beckmann is the first cellist to perform the entire cello literature from Bach to Gulda on a 5-stringed instrument. 

MMB: One morning (Mai 2005) I awoke dreaming of a 5-stringed cello. At that time I was playing J.S. Bach’s Solo Suites very intensively. I contacted my master violinmaker Roger Hargrave and asked him whether he was interested in collaborating with me to develop and build this instrument; he was very keen to do this.

This is not simply a 4-string cello with a fifth string; it is an absolutely new design of instrument. I didn’t imagine the adjustment would be quite so dramatic.

For me the 5-stringed cello is brilliant. It demands a different style of playing, also an open mind for new sounds; sounds that did not previously exist. The challenges are that the fingerboard is flatter, I use barré technique more often, and the wider bridge requires very precise bow contact with each string.

The 5th string creates new dimensions of sound from the cello and infinitely enhances its timbre. The E string gives the cello a sound which is very warm and rich in overtones and carries very well in a concert hall.

At the moment, we’re busy recording a new CD with Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata. A further project is to develop a new E-string.

Matthias Michael Beckmann