Review
Chamber Music Kelowna, Oct 19th 2018
Dalí Quartet and Olga Kern

Chamber Music Kelowna opened their 39th season Friday night with a concert featuring the Dalí Quartet and pianist Olga Kern.

Based in Philadelphia, the four members of the Dalí Quartet: violinists Domenic Salerni and Carlos Rubio, violist Adriana Linares, and cellist Jesús Morales brought their signature Latin flair to the stage at the Mary Irwin Theatre, presenting works by Ramírez, Mendelssohn, and Shostakovich.

The quartet opened with the rich and colourful Suite Latina by the Atlanta based violinist, conductor, and composer Juan R. Ramírez. Full of rhythmic dance idioms reminiscent of the composer’s Mexican roots, this work showcased the quartet’s infectious enthusiasm for playing and presenting the music of Latin American composers.

Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 6, in F minor, Op. 80, a dark work, full of angst and virtuosity concluded the first half. The last major work that Mendelssohn wrote, this quartet captures the immense grief he was dealing with at the time given the recent death of his beloved sister, Fanny. Mendelssohn himself died just two months after completing this work, and while it is mainly classical in structure, the restless mood of the piece foreshadows the later musical language of the romantics. The Dalí Quartet’s outgoing and passionate approach to this work resonated well with the audience, despite numerous lapses in technical accuracy.

After intermission the Dalí Quartet was joined by the celebrated pianist Olga Kern for the colossal Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57 by Dimitri Shostakovich. Premiered in 1940 with the composer himself at the piano, Kern’s outstanding artistry and Russian musical lineage made her a natural choice for this work. The opening Prelude was played with utmost poise and command by Kern, giving way to the plaintive 2nd Movement Fugue subtly introduced by the muted strings. The dancelike Scherzo was followed by a second slow movement, a grim Intermezzo, an unusual addition to the traditional four movement structure of the string quintet. The 5th Movement Finale, with its march-like feel and gentle pizzicato ending caught the audience by surprise.

 After vigorous applause, the performers quickly returned to the stage for an encore performance of Rubenstein’s Romance in the Night which was met by a standing ovation from the capacity audience.

Sandra Wilmot is a Kelowna-based freelance musician, composer, educator, and violin instructor. She plays professionally with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra and is on faculty at the Kelowna Community Music School.