New music, Flamenco
SUNDRY STROKES - Rosalinda L. Orosa () - March 3, 2007 - 12:00am
Josefino "Chino" Toledo is not only an admirable conductor but also an admirable composer. His newest work, commissioned by the Institute for Orchestral Development, was premiered at the CCP main theater, with the internationally acclaimed pianist Raul Sunico playing it with the Metro Manila Community Orchestra under the baton of Toledo himself.

The composition, Ekontra: Kongruo: Iunktum, appeared to be an avant-garde counterpart of the classic concerto, with the first movement as the allegro; the second, the andante; the third, the molto allegro.

Singularly original, the work was replete with staccato single notes repeatedly covering the entire keyboard in breath-taking and electrifying pace. Atonal and dissonant, the work was increasingly riveting, owing to its incessantly driving rhythm and vigorous, surging thrusts. As the first movement ended, drums interacted with the strings in exciting tension, the cadenza sustaining the energetic force. The slow second movement was almost lyrical in its andante-like tempo, and the third reverted to the frenzied staccato runs, with the tutti passages producing thunderous, almost overpowering auditory effects.

Throughout, the orchestra alternately competed with or complemented the solo instrument, Toledo’s mastery of composition magnetizing the audience with its impetus and drive. No pianist could have done more justice to the work than Sunico; it seemed cut out for him as he played with incredible dexterity and speed — his fingers steely yet nimble — keen rhythmic awareness and overwhelming strength demanded by the piece.

The six new works by young composers were Nilo B. Alcala II’s "Speak to Me My Love You Are the Evening Cloud", sung by Mary Karlene Denolo; Reginald Tan’s "Tatay, Matulog Ka Muna", sung by Kimberly Kwok; Louise L. Ybanez’s "Triang-gulo", sung by Mary Karlene Denolo; Nelson Polvoriza’s "Paglingon" sung by Shaddai Amor Solidum, and Joel Cruz’s "Shir-HaShirim 6 (Song of Songs 6)", sung by Ervin Notes Lumauag.

Institute President Teresita Serrano described them as modern kundimans. The traditional kundiman derives its meaning from kung hindi man, this denoting the uncertain acceptance of the love proffered. It is plaintive, pleading, with a gentle, flowing melody as exemplified by the opening Mutya ng Pasig by Abelardo.

The atonal works, doubtless innovative and imaginative, seemed to repulse rather than attract the beloved. Singers Solidum and Lumauag showed solid vocal equipment. Miriam College, chaired by Dr. Patricia Licuanan, should be commended for nurturing youthful creativity.
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Flamenco was literally in the spotlight when Clara Ramona, one of its top votaries, and her company gave a recital in "Spotlight", Makati’s tiny theater. Liza Diño, Dona Esteban, Vernice Nieto and Mercedes Soler — all young, lithe and attractive — performed the traditional Guajira, Delirios Ibericos, Sevillanas (Popular) with castanets, and Fandangos (the latter three dances minus Dona Esteban), their movements and brazeos (armwork) sinuous, their taconeos and zapateados (footwork), strong and precise.

The main attraction, of course, was Clara Ramona dancing to exquisite, spirited classic music by De Falla (La Vida Breve) and Albeniz (Asturias) exhibiting masterful control, aristocratic grace and élan in both. She compelled and sustained attention, deftly, ingeniously and rapidly twirling her manton in Gallardo, with fire, passion and intensity — the characteristics of flamenco — she created in Encajonada a profound dramatic impression as a woman who, dejected and abandoned by her lover, hangs herself.

She demonstrated inexhaustible energy and vigor in Sofeá, the Musica Flamenca Band Yerbagueña providing exciting percussive rhythms with canes tapped on the floor. The band, enhanced by the wailing of its singer's cante hondo called to mind the taverns in Madrid.

Special guest artists Isaac de los Reyes and Nino de los Reyes were fantastic, their fast, furious turns and thunderous footwork devastating. Clara was right there with them, matching their incredible energy, vigor, drive and breathless pace.

The yearly Spanish Fiesta has presented flamenco at its best and most exciting. Clara Ramona is determined to increase the Filipino’s love for flamenco by offering it as an enchanting, enticing idiom.

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