Highlights from Bravo! Vail Music Festival 2023

The Dalí Quartet is an ensemble that literally breathes together, as heard from my seat in the fourth row of the hall on July 11. In their recital at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek, Colorado, about ten miles from Vail, the four moved and played as a single unit, virtually locked in an embrace, playing Haydn’s String Quartet in F minor, Op. 20 No. 5, with impeccable ensemble.

The String Quartet No. 2 by the Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas was played with the same exacting togetherness. The work’s rapidly shifting moods, tempo, and dynamics were a pleasant contrast to Haydn’s more conventional score. The quartet has a very physical style of playing. On a number of occasions, the first violinist Ari Isaacman-Beck and the violist Carlos Rubio rose out of their chairs in a joyful unraveling of Revueltas’s dance rhythms.

In the second half of the program, the group was joined by Riccardo Morales, principal clarinet of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and brother of Dalí’s cellist, Jesus Morales, for the Clarinet Quintet by Carl Maria von Weber. Riccardo Morales displayed his virtuosic technique, with clean articulation in the rapid passages, and matched timbres with the strings. The music brought to mind characters like a mini-opera, with a lyrical slow movement like a sad aria and a galloping conclusion ending on a cliffhanger.

In Paquito d’Rivera’s Preludio y Merengue, the Dalís employed some Latin-American string techniques, including a percussive effect called chicharra (literally “cricket”). Riccardo Morales wailed effortlessly, accompanied by pizzicato strings in this whimsical piece.

Gail Wein, EarRelevant
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