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Israeli Reshef, Ochanine share spotlight, applause

When the Benedictine nun Sr. Baptista Battig arrived from Germany in 1908 to introduce Western music here, we listened and subsequently appreciated German music (Bach, Beethoven, Wagner, etc.) along with Italian, mostly operatic (Verdi, Puccini, Rossini, etc.), But not English music.

Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Olivier Ochanine (among others) introduced English music to us at the recent CCP concert wherein the PPO rendered Ralph Vaughn-Williams’ “The Wasps Overture” and “Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1”.

With thorough diligence, Williams delved deeply into the carols, madrigals, folk songs and dances, particularly of the Tudor period, as the history of music tells us, his works tending toward “modal writing, robust rhythm, transparent counterpoint, serene melody, restrained feelings acquired from these sources.”

Listening to Williams’ compositions, as interpreted by the PPO under Maestro Ochanine, one gained the illusion of nostalgic, melancholic and romantic sentiments. One also heard melodious music in light and airy passages.

The orchestration, solid and extensive, included flute, English horn and bass solos admirably played.

There were intense moments, but the feeling of longing, relationships, quiet memories and remembrances prevailed.

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Ochanine’s dynamic baton astonishingly reflected the turmoil and turbulence in the dramatically descriptive tone poem “Don Juan Op. 20” of Richard Strauss. How the thundering tuttis, arresting accents and compelling pauses conveyed the amorous adventures of the profligate Lothario! How the ensemble’s powerful eloquence carried his story forward, the lush strings, the pounding, propulsive percussions, the astounding brasses and winds creating a tremendous, devastating auditory effect.

Revealing Ochanine’s usual command of the ensemble, the blazing climaxes might be regarded as orchestral virtuosity, the surpassing achievement long remaining in the memory, as maximum effort led to magnificent sonorities.

Schumann is ranked only next or second in rank to the great masters. But he will always be “the voice of romance,” as he is often described. His Concerto in A Minor, with its opulent melodies and rhapsodic passages, have led musicologists to compare him to Beethoven but only in this work, his single Concerto.

It is frequently interpreted by both local and foreign pianists, but despite its familiarity, the distinguished Israeli Yossi Reshef infused it with freshness and spontaneity, his utterly nimble fingers producing an astonishing fluency that characterized the rendition, further enhanced by vibrancy and vitality.

Although the Concerto is not a virtuosic piece, Reshef’s brilliant, effortless technique, most evident in accelerated chords and runs, approached virtuosity.The Maestro gave excellent assistance to the pianist. With their eyes often meeting before a note was struck, Ochanine and Reshef established perfect unity, the musicianship of one matching that of the other, thus resulting in total balance and coherence.

Responding to applause, soloist Reshef played the third movement of Beethoven’s sonata “The Tempest” with his usual, distinctive fluency, a fluency that sets him a cut above many of his younger peers.

As baton wielder and visiting artist acknowledged public approbation, they ended holding each other in a fraternal embrace.

Israel aids Yolanda victims

Prior to the concert, a message of Israeli Ambassador Menashe Bar-On was read. He was then in Cebu to welcome 80 Israeli doctors who had come to minister to the victims of typhoon Yolanda.

Many other countries have similarly sent volunteers along with cash and relief goods. We fervently hope and pray that the distribution of these will be efficient so that the starving and the sick will not continue to languish in despair. We likewise hope, even more fervently, that the billions of pesos in generous cash donations will not go to the pockets of politicians and officials who have to maintain their lavish lifestyle and their luxury residences abroad.

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Erratum: In last Saturday’s review, “utterly inspired” appeared as “bitterly inspired”!

 

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