Coo, Espina toast Liszt / Caitlin Coyiuto amazes / Forthcoming music concerts


To mark the 200th birth anniversary of the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, duo-pianists Jonathan Coo and Mary Anne Espina rendered his works at the Philamlife Theater the other Saturday. The unique concert was the first of its kind.

Liszt does not have the stature of Beethoven, Chopin, Bach, Brahms, Schumann or Mendelssohn. His Hungarian Rhapsodies — gypsy rather than Hungarian — are described by musicologists as “showy, clever, effective, even stirring, built up of sharp, dramatic contrasts of mood, color and rhythm.” They observe further: “More than any composer, Liszt depends upon a virtuoso performance to be brought to life at all.”

Neither of the pianists played as a soloist, so neither had the opportunity to display his/her technical or artistic capacities to the full. The program consisted of the transcriptions of operas — Don Juan Fantasy (Mozart’s Don Giovanni) and Donizetti’s Lucia di Lamermoor, the Hungarian Fantasy, the Mephisto Waltz and Les Preludes. (Another piece substituted for La Campanella.)

The operatic transcriptions — in these, Liszt had no match — were melodious, being based on arias; except for them and the Mephisto Waltz and the encore Liebestraum (Dream of Love), the other selections were florid, non-lyrical technical devices innovative for their time.

Wherever Coo sat, his volume was always louder, more powerful, owing to his gender. Espina’s playing was refined, polished, elegant. Coo’s brilliant, sparkling, vigorous, highly dexterous performance was a true reflection of Liszt — “the expert handler of technical tools, the bold experimenter of new forms and combinations of sound.”

In Les Preludes, “translations into music of literary and artistic conceptions”, Coo and Espina complemented each other’s style, technique and sensitivity, bringing the duo performance to a glittering close worthy of Liszt.

* * *

Inclement weather kept me away from the Miriam College auditorium where the Metro Manila Community Orchestra under conductor Josefino Toledo, pianist Luci Magalit, flutist Caitlin Coyiuto and young, experimental composers were heard.

However, a DVD of Caitlin’s performance was graciously sent me, and it showed how masterfully the 17-year old flutist interpreted George Hue’s one-movement Fantasie for Flute and Orchestra with the MMCO assisting under Toledo.

The opening half of the piece was predominantly atonal and dissonant, with Caitlin rendering its demanding curlicues, florid passages, extensive runs, abrupt rhythmic changes and a fiery blast with considerable fluency, verve and spirit, while conveying the flute’s rich tonal resources and widely divergent dynamics throughout the selection.

The brilliant Caitlin and Toledo were in consistent rapport, the latter conducting authoritatively and impeccably.

The score’s subtleties and complexities were eloquently expressed by Caitlin. She further captured the whimsy and surrealistic qualities of the Fantasie’s first portion and the melodic character of the second through virtuosity and keen sensitivity — exceptional for a flutist of such tender years.

Indeed, Caitlin’s performance was superlative all the way!

Forthcoming concerts

On Nov. 4, 8 p.m., CCP main theater, the Taipei Symphony Orchestra under Hubert Soudant, pianist Raul Sunico and violinist Ray Chen will perform. Program: Mozart’s Overture from “Titus”/Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F Major/ Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor/Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 in G Major.

The same concert will be held at the Manuela O. Pastor Theater in Batangas City on Nov. 2, 5 p.m. Tony Pastor will serve as host.

On Nov. 11, 8 p.m., pianist Jiovanney E. Cruz will lead four young pianists in a concert at the Philamlife Theater, 6 p.m. At the CCP main theater, on the same date, 8 p.m., Jae Joon Lee will conduct the PPO; Bui Cong will be solo violinist.

On Nov. 12, 8 p.m., Philamlife Theater, Russian Alexander Vikulov will conduct the MSO. Violinist Arturo Molina, cellist Michael Coo and pianist Greg Zuñiega will perform in the all-Beethoven concert.

On Nov. 14, the Piano Teachers Guild and the UST Conservatory will present distinguished Serbian pianist Dorian Leljak in concert, 7:30 p.m. at the Philamlife Auditorium.

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