Close collaboration between composers and performers is a distinguished tradition that got its start back in the Renaissance. In modern times, the tight-knit partnership between Benjamin Britten and tenor Peter Pears readily comes tomind. Among the less celebrated (and frequent) but no less fruitful is another British pair: Michael Tippett and the Lindsay Quartet. In the early 70s the quartet recorded Tippett's first three string quartets (composed between 1934 and '46) in performances considered definitive by many critics. A delighted Tippett returned the favor in 1977 by tailoring his next entry in the genre specifically to the playing style and sonorities of the young quartet. Now, fittingly, the 87-year-old composer has written another one (cocommissioned by Chamber Music Chicago) with the Lindsay in mind. The Fifth String Quartet, here in its first performance outside England, is cast in two movement and once again pays homage to Tippett's musical idol, Beethoven. Its fast-paced first movement makes references to Beethoven's String Quartet op. 127, just as the ethereal second half echoes the slow movement of opus 132. Also scheduled in this first recital of the Lindsay's American tour are Haydn's C-major Quartet op. 20 no. 2 and Schubert's reflective and somberly beautiful String Quartet in D Minor, based on and nicknamed after his own song "Death and the Maiden." Monday, 8 PM, Blackstone Theatre, 60 E. Balbo; 242-6237.