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Opinion

Sunico, Caces: Formidable duo / Concerts, current and choice

SUNDRY STROKES -

Top pianists Raul Sunico and Aries Caces were a formidable duo playing at the Philamlife auditorium a program that ranged from the romantic to the avant-garde.

Their interpretation of Brahms’ “Variations on a Theme by Haydn”, arranged for two pianos, had luminous tonal colors that conveyed sensuous moods.

Liszt’s “Concerto Pathetique for Two Pianos” called on the duo’s astonishing resources, with the composition drawing from their tremendous power, flexible fingers, Sunico’s rippling runs complementing Caces’ rapid chords. Most of Liszt’s works have been described as “deplorably paltry, and occasionally downright cheap”, but they never fail to electrify when rendered brilliantly, as the “Pathetique” did, with Sunico and Caces astoundingly executing its daunting artifices.

Playing Poulenc’s “Sonata for Four Hands” on one piano, the duo exuded ardor — indeed fire — revealing the composer’s wit, humor and satire typical of The French Six to which group Poulenc belonged.

Chopin is always Chopin whether he composes a polonaise, a mazurka, a nocturne or an etude — his exquisite melodies and innovative devices proving him way ahead of his time. In his “Rondo in C Major for Two Pianos”, listeners delighted in the charm and joyousness of the piece, its swirling rhythms and widely-ranging dynamics evoking reckless abandon.

The intricate dissonances and aleatory atonalities of Wotold Lutoslawski’s “Paganini’s Variations for Two Pianos” contrasted dramatically with Chopin’s lyrical Rondo, as also with Sunico’s arrangement of “Philippine Airs”. Some of the loveliest melodies are to be found in songs (and kundimans) by Filipino composers; Sunico’s medley wove such melodies together in so imaginative and creative a manner, the “Airs” sounded much more than just an arrangement.

Sunico performed throughout without a score, except a token one he hardly looked at for Poulenc’s Sonata which was played on a single piano. Earlier, in 2003, he demonstrated his photographic memory when he played Rachmaninoff’s four concertos in one evening without a score, and the unprecedented feat was repeated at the Philamlife auditorium, and in other previous concerts.

Sunico and Caces were highly inspired, expanding and enriching the genre of each composition. What a distinct gratification it was to listen to two seasoned, mature, thoroughly experienced artists!

Theirs was the closest ensemble playing, further enhanced by sparkling tonalities, singing phrases and arresting accents. The technical prowess of each performer doubtless indicated mastery of the piano.

Rapturous and prolonged clamor led to a partial repetition of “Philippine Airs”.

The concert was for the benefit of Concordia Children’s Services, Inc.

Marimba, sax, piano concert

Today, Saturday, Dena Fernandez (marimba), Dr. Michael Young (saxophone), Lourdes de Leon-Gregorio and Peter Porticos (piano) will perform at 7:30 p.m. in the Philamlife auditorium. The program will consist of Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12”, Paganini’s “La Campanella”, Monti’s “Czardas”, Poulenc’s “Sonata for Oboe and Piano” with the saxophone instead of the oboe, Mozart’s “Sonata No. 13” and some of Piazzolla’s popular works.

The concert is part of MCO Music Foundation’s Great Performances Series.

Fernandez pursued her MA degree at St. Paul’s U. She has participated in major music festivals in Spain, concert tours in Corpus Christi, Fort Worth and Dallas, and given solo recitals in New York.

Young made his debut at 18 before pursuing his master’s and doctoral degrees in saxophone at Southern California U. He regularly performs with celebrated foreign and Filipino artists.

Mrs. Gregorio is the first Filipino to obtain an artist’s diploma in harp and piano accompaniment from Vienna’s Academy for Music and Dramatic Arts.

Porticos, a UST Conservatory graduate and faculty member, took further studies at the Hanns Eisler Hochschule in Berlin.

Koto and guitar concert

The Japan Foundation and the Japanese Embassy will present Aki and Kuniko in a koto-guitar concert at the RCBC auditorium on July 20, 7:30 p.m. and on July 21, 9 p.m. at the Conspiracy Garden Café, QC.

AKI AND KUNIKO

C MAJOR

CONCERTO PATHETIQUE

PHILIPPINE AIRS

POULENC

SUNICO

SUNICO AND CACES

TWO PIANOS

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