First of 'Five Fridays' brings Beethoven to St. Paul's

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill, hosted the first in its “Five Fridays” series of chamber music recitals Friday, October 3. The series devotes all its proceeds to Northwest Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network and Face-to-Face Germantown, two charitable organizations that help people in need make the transition from homeless shelters to housing of their own.

Friday evening’s performers were the Dali String Quartet, comprised of violinists Simon Gollo & Carlos Rubio, violist Adriana Linares and cellist Jesus Morales. Their program opened with Beethoven’s String Quartet in G major, Opus 18, no. 2. It then continued into the repertoire of contemporary Latin American music for string quartet in keeping with the national origins of the players, themselves: three from Venezuela and one from Puerto Rico.

The Dali Quartet caught the exuberance of the Beethoven, acknowledging its respect for classical traditions yet highlighting its energetic pushing of the boundaries Beethoven inherited from Franz Joseph Haydn, the creator of the “classical style” and one of his few teachers. Finely chiseled ensemble delineated the first movement’s engaging counterpoint, establishing a lively dialogue between all four instruments in which dissonances resolved convincingly. A broad range of unforced dynamics was employed and balance between the voices was effortlessly voiced.

While respecting the second movement’s opening slow tempo, the Dali nonetheless sustained a finely pulsed sense of direction, balancing its principal mood of lyricism against the almost humorous hyper-activity of its middle section. The light and frothy spirit of the third movement was compellingly projected while the final movement’s forceful culmination was proffered efficaciously.

Among the Latin-inflected selections, the highpoints were Juan Bautista Plaza’s “Fuga Romantica” and “Fuga Criolla.” Conjuring up sonic images of Bach’s counterpoint, the Venezuelan composer created a sound-world all his own, and the Dali Quartet gave both works sizzling renditions.

Michael Caruso, Chestnut Hill Local
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