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Opinion

Reyes' incredible fluency / Enzo Medel recital today

SUNDRY STROKES -

Decades ago, celebrated pianist Arthur Schnabel was reported to have given a series of seven concerts at Carnegie Hall which offered all of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas for seven consecutive weeks.

International pianist Reynaldo Reyes played four Beethoven sonatas Tuesday evening at the CCP Little Theater, and judging by his innovative one-composer concerts through these many years, he is fully capable of matching Schnabel’s achievement, certainly in quantity – see post-script – although we may never know if also in quality.

At any rate, in assessing Reyes’ performance, it may be pertinent to note what kind of composer he was interpreting. Herewith is what musicologists say about Beethoven: “The history of music offers no experience comparable to that sense of an expanding universe afforded by the masterpieces of Ludwig van Beethoven. With the advent of this titanic presence, there is an abrupt break with the past that has few parallels in the entire history of art. His wrestling with destiny, not only his own but that of mankind, is one of the great epics of the modern world: he told it in a succession of mighty works which, in their boundless humanity and immediacy of appeal, have never been equaled.”

Reyes’ program consisted of Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Sonata quasi fantasia No. 13 in E flat Major, Sonata No. 24 in F sharp Major and Sonata No. 21 in C Major, popularly known as “Waldstein”.

The sonatas were distinct from each other, differing in substance, structure and style. Reyes, totally focused, revealed this, displaying considerable command as well as intensity of thought and feeling.

Throughout the recital, the resources of both the piano and the pianist were demonstrated, with the composer treating the piano in a manner way ahead of his time, as a percussion instrument that it truly is.

Varied tonal effects surfaced. The structural devices were stunningly reflected by Reyes who exhibited utmost skill and vitality, with brilliant bravura clearly pointing up Beethoven’s hitherto unprecedented technique.

The sonatas varied in length: The first two had four movements; the third was the shortest with two; the finale, “Waldstein”, had three. Yet, each sounded complete and thoroughly gratifying. Sonata No. 24 in F sharp Major, which came after intermission, seemed to this reviewer Beethoven’s own version of a Chopin Etude, a study aimed at developing the pianist’s facility in the runs. In them, Reyes conveyed an incredible nimbleness and fluency – the fingers of his left hand (the weaker hand) as agile as those of his right.

The “Waldstein” to us is of course the most familiar of Beethoven’s sonatas. The melodic lines of its adagio molto (second movement) were some of the composer’s most exquisitely poignant and lyrical.

Unlike Liszt’s bombastic movements, the rondo called for a less showy, less spectacular virtuosity which, nonetheless, was tremendously daunting in its fashion.

In sum, Reyes, simple and unassuming in demeanor, played both the grandiloquent and serene sequences with elegance, refinement and restraint – these ensuing from a master’s artistic maturity and seasoned sophistication.

The encore conformed with the rest of the pieces: Beethoven’s Fur Elise.

*      *      *

Postscript: I urge all music lovers and music students to attend Reyes’ remaining two recitals at the CCP Little Theater, July 27 and Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

Soon after graduation from the Paris Conservatory, Reyes won the coveted Premier Prix. More recently, on Oct. 2, 2010, he received the Ignacy Paderewski Award from the International Friends of Music for Distinguished Contributions to Society and Culture at the Polish Embassy in Washington, DC. He has concertized in Europe, Russia, England, the US and Asia.

Reyes’ one-composer concerts point to the widest repertoire among the world’s pianists. It includes the entire 48 Preludes and Fugues of Bach, the 24 Preludes of Debussy, the 24 Preludes of Chopin, the 24 Etudes of Chopin, the Paganini Variations by Brahms, the 24 Preludes of Alkan, the Iberia Suite of Albeniz, the Paganini-Liszt Etudes, the Goldberg Variations by Bach, the Gaspard de la Nuit by Ravel and a collection of repertoire by different nationalities.

Lorenzo Medel Recital

Former prodigy Lorenzo “Enzo” Bueno Medel, 17, will give a solo recital with the Manila Symphony Orchestra under Jeffrey Solares today at 7:30 p.m. at the Philamlife Auditorium. Medel will play pieces by Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and Prokofiev, and Concertos by Bach and Liszt.

Admission is free!

ARTHUR SCHNABEL

BACH AND LISZT

BEETHOVEN

BUENO MEDEL

C MAJOR

LITTLE THEATER

REYES

SONATA NO

WALDSTEIN

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