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Opinion

The amazing Aries Caces / Soprano Saporsantos, pianist Hila to perform

SUNDRY STROKES -
For the "MCC Arts Festival 2006", Aries Caces, who trained in Vienna for 12 years under top piano mentors including Paul Badura-Skoda, gave a concert last week, with three Mozart compositions marking the composer’s 250th birth anniversary. Utmost refinement, polish and delicacy of touch characterized the interpretation of Rondo in D Major, Fantasy in D Minor with its exquisitely sad opening theme, and Sonata in D Major with its discipline and command of technical resources Mozart introduced way ahead of his time.

The mastery of style – its purity and eloquence – predominated, with spirited, sparkling nuances surfacing throughout. The fantasias Mozart himself played in the palaces of Vienna’s royalty always garnered tremendous applause; so did the Fantasia Caces rendered at F. Santiago Hall.

Many Liszt works are transcriptions and arrangements, e.g., the six Paganini Grandes Etudes of varying degrees of pianistic challenge which were played that evening.

A musicologist once observed: "It was the diabolical fiddler, Nicolo Paganini, who showed Liszt, already aspiring to be the virtuoso of virtuosos, that technique itself could be sorcery. In this unsavory Italian, he found exactly the elements he was to use in becoming the most phenomenal pianist of the century – absolute command of his instrument, a battery of outlandish technical tricks, a dash of diablerie, and an elaborately built-up professional personality."

Caces may not exactly conform to the image of Liszt as an Adonis, or as a pianist of equal caliber, but he remarkably passed the most rigid test of digital skill and dexterity the Etudes offered. Unfazed, he executed nimble, clear, precise runs and massive, powerful chords that never missed a beat in No. 1 in G Minor "Preludio" with its swift double runs, No. 2 in E Flat Major "Andante Capriccioso" with chords and runs predominating, No. 3 in G Sharp Minor "La Campanella" with its dizzying "jumps", No. 4 in E Major "Arpeggio" with its staccatos, and No. 5 in E Major "La chasse" the most familiar of the six etudes.

As a child, I used to listen to a Paderewski recording of La Campanella, and as far as I can surmise, Caces’ version showed no slackening of pace. Theme and Variations, the final etude, was doubtless fiendishly demanding, and here Caces was amazing. Sensational.

Thunderous applause and a standing ovation ensued. The encore, Soiree de vienne, Alfred Gruenfield’s concert paraphrase of Johann Strauss Waltz Themes (no wonder they sounded familiar) closed the program while the audience rapturously clamored for more encores.
* * *
Soprano Katrina Lozano Saporsantos, a NAMCYA prize winner in 2002, was accepted in the Master’s Program in voice at the Manhattan School of Music in New York, one of the top ten schools of music in the US. Incidentally, the school is where outstanding Jiovanney Emmanuel Cruz furthered his studies.

Before she leaves, Katrina will give a voice concert at the F. Santiago Hall on July 23 with internationally acclaimed pianist Raul Sunico as assisting artist.

Katrina has been a soloist for the PPO, the MSO, the SMO under notable conductors Castille, Barbieri, Quirit, Toledo, J. Navarro and J. Velasco. She has had engagements at the Bamboo Organ, San Agustin and Pundaquit festivals.

Few know that Katrina’s grandfather was the marvelous impresario Alfred Lozano who presented to Manila audiences Metropolitan Opera stars Helen Traubel, Lucine Amara and Jan Peerce, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Herbert Von Karajan, Yehudi Menuhin, Marian Anderson, the greatest contralto America has produced, pianist Rudolf Serkin, Cecile Licad’s mentor at Curtis, among other celebrated artists.

Katrina’s powerful voice has tremendous potential. In due time, she should be joining opera houses abroad.
* * *
Pianist Hiyas A. Hila will give a solo recital at the Philamlife Theater on Aug. 11 at 8 p.m. under the auspices of the UP Aloha Sigma Fraternity Alumni Association. Hiyas will interpret Beethoven’s 32 Variations in C Minor, second movement; Schubert’s Sonata in A Minor, second movement, andante con grosso; Debussy’s Images, Book 1.

Mozart’s Overture to the Magic Flute will be rendered by the Manila Symphony Orchestra under Arturo T. Molina; Mozart’s Concerto in A Major will have Hiyas as soloist – with both compositions marking the composer’s 250th birth anniversary.

A sophomore in the Doctor’s degree program at Minnesota U. School of Music under Leeds and Levintritt winner Lydia Artymiw, Hiyas won in its concerto competitions last year, playing the above Mozart concerto. She won first prize in the graduate division 83rd Annual Club of Minnesota, and second prize in the Elinor Bell Competition also in Minnesota.

A John Quimson fellow of the Asian Culural Council, Hiyas received the Centennial Piano Fellowship (2005) awarded to an incoming student who excels in live auditions for admission. She is a teaching assistant at the School of Music.

Hiyas earned her bachelor’s and master of music degrees from the S.F. Conservatory in California under Mack McCray. She was a Sergei Barsukov and GlaxoSmithkline scholar all through her study at the conservatory, and was consistently in the dean’s list.

In Manila, she was a perennial NAMCYA winner, garnering first prize in the 1995 competitions sponsored by the Piano Teachers Guild, which prize led to her debut with the MSO.

A JOHN QUIMSON

A MAJOR

A MINOR

ALFRED GRUENFIELD

D MAJOR

E MAJOR

HIYAS

LA CAMPANELLA

SANTIAGO HALL

SCHOOL OF MUSIC

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