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Opinion

Esmilla: A master's touch / Books and more books at ICM

SUNDRY STROKES -

The eminent international violinist Joseph Esmilla and the Manila Symphony Orchestra under distinguished conductor Arturo Molina opened the weekend concert in Alabang’s Insular Life auditorium with Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings in E Major.

The work consistently alternated from swift to slow tempo, from loud to soft passages and diverse gradations in-between, these continuing contrasts in tempo and dynamics making the serenade wholly enchanting and scintillating.

A master is immediately recognized as one the moment he performs. Esmilla instantly revealed himself as such, as indeed he has done in previous concerts. He executed the solo passages brilliantly, his tones lush, brisk and firm but refined. Playing with the entire string ensemble, or with a second or first violin, or with one or two cellos, Esmilla manifested commanding skill, authority and most evident virtuosity, shifting from the rhapsodic and dramatic, to the tranquil, serene and lyrical.

Under Molina, the youthful MSO conveyed discipline and precision, the strings articulate and cohesive. There was nothing left to be desired in the flawless rapport between the chamber orchestra and the soloist.

The thunderous demonstration of approval and appreciation brought on an encore from Esmilla: Recitativo and Scherzo composed by the illustrious violinist Kreisler, which piece was interpreted seasons ago in New York’s Carnegie Hall by the legendary Heifetz. I can’t describe how Heifetz rendered the immensely challenging score for violin alone, but Esmilla manifested effortless command, bringing rich colors and emotional intensity to the work.

In “The Four Seasons” concerto, interpreted by the MSO, the melodic lines flowed while eloquent expression and varied tonal hues surfaced under the keenly perceptive and sensitive Molina.

The hugely successful event was a presentation of Filfest headed by Vicky F. Zubiri as president, assisted by Lina Racho, secretary, and Martin Lopez, director and emcee.

Forthcoming Filfest concerts follow: May 21 — Willie Pasamba, cellist and the MSO under conductor Arturo Molina/ July 30 — Rudolf Golez, pianist, and the Clarion Chamber Ensemble/ Oct. 20 — Andrew Fernando, baritone, Rachelle Gerodias soprano, and Gerard Salonga, conductor of the FilHarmonika/ Oct. 8 or 9 — Trio Guarneri from Prague.

* * *

Herewith is the official announcement of International Book Day on April 16 at the Instituto Cervantes in Manila (ICM):

New technology is transforming our lives dramatically in many fields including literature, but Instituto Cervantes de Manila is returning to the basics as it brings back the Dia Internacional del Libro.

Around 4,000 book titles will once again be available at the sixth edition of the Dia del Libro. From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., bibliopiles and the curious can choose from the widest assortment of books — children and young adult titles, dictionaries, novels, fiction and non-fiction — for as low as P20. And following Spanish tradition, for every purchase you make you will be given a rose.

“The Internet has caused a revolution in the book publishing industry where electronic book titles are outselling hard covers. In the era of electronic books, the traditional book titles are outselling hard covers. I believe the traditional book is still incomparable. It is the total experience as it triggers all your senses,” says ICM director Jose Rodriguez.

First introduced by ICM in Manila in 2006, the tradition of Dia del Libro (related to an old legend involving chivalry) began in Barcelona where on St. George’s Day, gifts were exchanged between sweethearts: men bought roses for women, and in return, women bought books for men. The tradition encourages book lovers to gather and indulge their literary passion.

In addition to the book market, the grandest of celebrations will include an all-day feast of Spanish delicacies with free wine-tasting, film showings, games, poetry reading, jazz and contemporary dance concerts, a photo contest and free Spanish lessons.

The young ones can indulge their creative side with Pintura para Niños, a coloring activity. It will be followed by the Spanish film El lince perdido (The Missing Lynx). From 4 p.m., the children can sing classic Spanish nursery rhymes.

Those who are into poetry may watch at 2 p.m., Salon de Actos, Bersong EuroPinoy — a unique poetry chain of Filipino and European poems. It will be an all-day excitement!

ANDREW FERNANDO

ARTURO MOLINA

BOOK

CARNEGIE HALL

CLARION CHAMBER ENSEMBLE

DIA INTERNACIONAL

E MAJOR

ESMILLA

FILIPINO AND EUROPEAN

INSTITUTO CERVANTES

LIBRO

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