Dalí Quartet and Jorge Montilla perform dynamic concert at Voxman

The acclaimed Dalí Quartet music ensemble and Jorge Montilla took their audience on an adventure through Latin-American music last week.


Dimia Burrell

Violinists Ari Isaacman-Beck introduces violinist Carlos Rubio, cellist Jesús Morales, and violist Adriana Linares in a strings group called the Dalí Quartet at the Voxman Music Building in Iowa City on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022.

Cassandra Parsons, Arts Reporter

From melancholy to valiant, Dalí Quartet filled the Voxman recital hall with their moving melodies on Feb. 3. As the quartet played, their bodies swayed together, taking themselves and the audience on an adventure of Latin American sound through music.

The quartet played together as one throughout their performance. First-chair violinist Ari Isaacman-Beck stood after the conclusion of each piece, introducing the next song. The audience was given context for each piece performed, enhancing the learning experience.

Isaacman-Beck described the piece “Fuga Criolla” (Creole Fugue) by Juan Bautista Plaza as a heroic piece of music. The quartet lived up to this description, captivating the audience with varying dynamics and time changes. The last note, played by cellist Jesus Morales, rang through the concert hall for a few moments before the audience burst into applause.

The fourth piece performed, “Divertimento Caribeno No 3” by Sonia Morales was one of my personal favorites. The three-movement piece blended flawlessly, giving the audience three very distinct sounds. The first movement brought tension to the hall and reminded me of spiders crawling across a floor. The cello and viola played back and forth throughout this piece, mimicking a suspenseful conversation through their music.

“Tango Ballet” by Astor Piazzolla gave the audience a quick insight into the composer’s life living in New York City between 1924 to 1937. The six-movement piece was executed beautifully by the quartet and filled the hall with a haunting sound of unnerving Cuban bolero genre of music.

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My feelings during this piece sat on the edge of both nervousness and excitement. The haunting playing at certain moments in this piece sent shivers down my spine, but there were also moments of sadness. What had originally sounded like fear turned into spiraling sorrow.

The second half of the concert invited Jorge Montilla, a world-famous clarinetist, to the stage. Montilla is also currently the Assistant Professor of Clarinet at the University of Iowa School of Music.

As the quartet and Montilla began to play “Aires Tropicales” by Paquito D’Rivera, a silent astonishment fell across the entire audience. Montilla’s playing, and I am not exaggerating, was the smoothest clarinet I have ever heard. The sound emanating from the clarinet invited the audience to feel like floating on a cloud.

The clarinet soared above the quartet. The first minute or so of the third movement of “Aires Tropicales” was a soft sound from Montilla, so delicate it stood against the breath of the audience.

The final piece of the concert, “Preludio y Merengue” by Paquito D’Rivera, highlighted the sound of each instrument. Being encased in a hall of wonderful and wild music felt like a dream. If a listener closed their eyes, the music could take them on any adventure.

After the conclusion of the concert, the Dalí Quartet and Jorge Montilla received a deserved standing ovation, lasting several minutes after the final gripping note was played.