ClarinetFest® 2022 Day 1
by Natalie Groom
In the second headliner concert of the festival’s opening day, Ricardo Morales and pianist Grace Choi began with Clarinet Concerto by Jacob Bancks (b. 1982). A mysterious and pensive introduction, the duo weaved together a rhapsodic and gestural opening with oscillating piano figures and a macro melodic line in the clarinet. In a brief but thoughtful cadenza, Morales’ lovely tone and liquid fluidity stirred the audience.
Transitioning to a new section of the piece, a driving rhythmic pattern propelled things along and offered an opportunity to display the duo’s nimbleness across registers and articulation demands. Driving to the finish line, this exciting piece ended with a flourish and a trill. With how beautifully this rendered to a piano reduction, one can only wish to hear the full orchestral version!
Morales was then joined by the Dalí String Quartet:
Ari Isaacman-Beck, First Violin
Carlos Rubio, Second Violin
Adriana Linares, Viola
Jesús Morales, Cello
Together they presented Johannes Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115. In this iconic work, the string quartet displayed incredibly uniformity and cohesion of sound, rising individually from the texture when appropriate and allowing the clarinet to come through at key moments. The quintet brought forth an impressive array of colors. In the last iteration of the theme closing movement one, the group crafted a calming mood in anticipation of the opening notes of movement two. Within the confines of muted restraint, the quintet brought forth poignant arrival points heading into the Hungarian-influenced cadenza section, which Morales navigated floridly. Uplifting and optimistic, movement three unfolded organically, and the strings kept the momentum high through the rest of the movement. In the theme and variations found in movement four, the ensemble transitioned effortlessly between the fluctuating ideas, textures, and colors demanded by the composer. With movement four ending as the entire work began, the quintet artfully brought closure to this masterpiece by Brahms.
This concert was sponsored by F. Arthur Uebel Klarinetten.