Masterpieces of titans rendered by two masters / Miscellaneous brevities


Masterpieces of titans were interpreted by two masters at Friday’s concert in the CCP main theater. In the review which follows, the statement will be elaborated on.

Nothing can be more imaginative, original or innovative than the use of dances in slow, measured rhythms for an elegy or lament. But Ravel did just that in Tombeau (tomb) de Couperin, an elegy or lament for soldiers who had died in World War I and for his beloved mother.

The printed program states that the four pieces — a Prelude and the dances (Forlane, Minuet, Rigaudon) — are a tour de force of instrumental finesse in the orchestral setting. The restraint, the refined tonalities, the long, controlled legatos and pianissimos which conductor Olivier Ochanine drew from the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, particularly from the strings, constituted a veritable tour de force likewise. The rendition revealed, eloquently and elegantly, Ravel’s complete domination of his medium, his economy of means and Ochanine’s own firm grasp of instrumentation.

Musicologists have long claimed that Beethoven’s Concerto No. 4 in G Major “yields to none of the others in immediacy of appeal.” Further, that “although it does not offer virtuosos such an excellent chance to show off as the Fifth, it is flawlessly constructed, original in detail and inspired in melody.”

Notwithstanding the foregoing quote, international pianist Ariel Dechosa converted the Concerto into a virtuoso piece. Its unprecedented opening by the pianist already heralded a masterful rendition. With sparkling notes, Dechosa gave the first movement, allegro moderato, a powerful, fiery, thunderous interpretation as he did to the finale of Beethoven’s subtle, complex development, while revealing vast technical resources. Dechosa traced Beethoven’s grand design, depth of thought and richness of detail with clarity, precision and amazing fluency.

Gradations in dynamics led to the vivace that was as powerful, fiery and thunderous as the first movement.

For its part, the PPO, rising to magisterial heights, sustained a vivid, spirited dialogue with the soloist, and it was clear that the musical exchange was between two masters: Ochanine and Dechosa, the former heartily applauding the latter at the end of the performance.

In Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, a long, extended, predominantly melancholic work, the strings and winds in the opening Largo Allegro Moderato led to a shattering climax. As the highly expressive slow movement engaged the violas, the clarinet and the oboe, the somber mood deepened, becoming more poignant.

The winds then struck a march, the violins played octaves. Themes from the earlier movements ended in an overwhelming finale under Ochanine’s baton. The various sections had entered into a most lively, spirited interaction. The musical content of each movement was conveyed with utmost vibrancy, forceful tuttis coming in-between. Rachmaninoff having been served magnificently, Ochanine asked the principals of each section to take a richly deserved bow. The prolonged applause brought on a charming, joyous medley of Christmas carols which captured the spirit of the season.

* * *

Sr. Anunciata Sta. Ana, dean of music of St. Paul University’s College of Music, had the honor and privilege of conducting the St. Paul U. and Sta. Isabel College choirs at the mass celebrated in the Manila Cathedral for the installation of Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, D.D., who succeeded Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.

* * *

Ms. Maria Rosa “Bing” Nieva Carrion launched her book “Asian Leaders” at the Dusit Thani grand ballroom. The leaders are Sen. Benigno Aquino, SC Chief Justice Renato Corona, Sen. Loren Legarda, CB Governor Amando Tetangco, Mrs. Rajashere Birla of India, Joselito D. Campos, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay of Malaysia, Thanpuying Chanut Pujaoui of Thailand, Washington Sycip, Andrew L. Tan and Mrs. Cynthia Villar.

Coloratura soprano Fame Flores, a scholar of George Yang’s Klassikal Music Foundation, sent me a notice of a concert featuring her and two other singers at the CCP main theater. Owing to the many invitations I receive, I saw the announcement a day after the concert.

Fame vastly impressed the audience at the Johann Strauss Society of the Philippines musical.

The versatile Ivi Avellana Cosio, visual artist, actress and developing opera singer, gave a recital which I missed. Ivi, with a rather small dulcet voice, sings with moving expression and clear diction.











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