As usual, Gerphil didn’t disappoint
(The Philippine Star) - February 26, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Gerphil Flores is undeniably one of the more unique gifted discoveries to emerge from a talent competition. Not of the usual mold of Mariah Carey/Taylor Swift wannabes, Gerphil is a classically-trained singer (UP College of Music, where she will be graduating with honors this year) who has successfully crossed over her formal voice training to the local pop scene with some degree of success. Deftly combining elements of classical and Broadway to pop, she has introduced the style of voice culture to a larger audience. Her being easy on the eyes — being half-Teutonic — has helped a lot in this respect.

It was thus with much expectation that I sat on the third row of Solaire’s The Theatre to watch Tales of Love, waiting with eager anticipation for the Divine Ms. Flores’ latest melodic offerings. Backed up by no less than the country’s premier orchestra, the highly-regarded Philippine Philharmonic (under the able baton of maestro Rodel Colmenar), the promise was great.

Gerphil as a chanteuse delivered as usual; the production, however, was somewhat a letdown.

Gerphil breezed through the first set of songs without breaking a sweat, her voice hitting the notes dead center with impressive regularity, her diction Edith Piaf-ish clear. In particular, she gave a fresh take on the old David Gates chestnut If, exploring the melodic sinuosities of the song which are very often lost when sung in cantabile as it is often performed. The segue to a medley of songs from the musical Les Miserables, where Gerphil was joined by three young tenors, showcased her ability to belt out Broadway hits. The medley later on evolved into a delightful fugue, marred only by the fact that two of the tenors were not a match for Gerphil’s refined vocal skills.

Gerphil performed the rest of her repertoire with poise and precision: Her reading of the theme from The Godfather was sympathetic; she resisted the temptation to grandstand with Somewhere In Time, instead delivering a wonderfully subdued version; and gave the audience a refreshingly heartfelt rendition of Starting Over Again. She then went on to surprise with a rebooted reading of the Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston standard I Will Always Love You, breathing new life into an overused concert piece by interspersing Italian lyrics with the original lines.

The concert finished strongly with a medley of Aegis songs arranged in classical orchestral style (a real crowd pleaser), and ended with the threadbare staple Time To Say Goodbye, sung with no surprises. An encore of a reworked classic set to chill-out beat, together with a dance troupe, ended the night on a groovy note.

 As I said, Gerphil did not disappoint. But I found the direction a bit uninspired. While director Floy Quintos may have wanted to focus the spotlight (literally and figuratively) on Gerphil’s’ abundant vocal talents, monotony tends to set in after a while. There was an attempt to break the pattern by inserting Jose Mari Chan, one of the country’s top three greatest composers (his little-known works Love Like The Wind and One Way Road To Fame, IMHO are among the best Filipino musical creations ever). His sentimental version of Fly Me To The Moon was pleasant at best; his medley of Deep In My Heart/Refrain well-applauded but stale. His duet of the Please Be Careful With My Heart with Gerphil evoked little feelings from both, as well as the spectators.

Due to the copious stories behind each song that Flores sang onstage, Quintos could have done a better job of weaving a “tale” before and after each rendition, thus making the concert a great deal more engaging.

On the whole, Tales of Love was an enjoyable sampling of the vocal faculties of Gerphil, although the musical proficiency of our homegrown Philharmonic was made less than enchanting.

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