Ochanine's catholic taste includes moving kundimans / IC's Calvo endorses ballets


The latest concert of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Olivier Ochanine revealed his catholicity of taste through a widely-ranging program. The concert started with Johann Strauss’ Overture from the well-loved operetta “Die Fleder-maus”. Ochanine’s zealous, rousing treatment of its harmony, melodic lines and rhythm left the listener wishing to dance to the music. Further, the vibrant interpretation conjured images of the Vienna Debutantes Ball at the Royal Palace where maidens in flowing, elegant gowns, partnered by gallant, young swains whirl about the ballroom in dizzying fashion.

In Bizet’s descriptive “March of the Toreadors” from the opera Carmen, one could hear the crowd’s loud, lusty acclaim of the toreadors in the ring before they fight the fierce, raging bulls. The sumptuous orchestration was fully reflected by the ensemble which finished in a pulsing climax.

Throughout the two compelling pieces, Ochanine abhorred exhibitionism and sensationalism, interpreting the scores with contained dignity while extracting their substance, spirit and essence diligently and faithfully. With the encouragement and full support of the CCP under president Raul Sunico, the PPO membership reached a size that made for a much bigger, more solid volume.

After Rachelle Gerodias’ triumph as Violetta in Verdi’s Traviata, she performed as the winsome soloist in the aria ‘Si, mi chamano Mimi’ from Puccini’s La Boheme. Rachelle’s instinct for dramatic communication was unerring in the aria wherein the seamstress Mimi identifies herself to Rodolfo, the poet, with such moving passion that he instantly falls in love with her. Typically, Rachelle intoned the text singing pianissimo, fortissimo, pianissimo all in one breath, her subtly nuanced dynamics singular and unique.

Rachelle changed her evening gown and wore a pañueloless terno for the Western-inspired kundimans. Academician Felipe M. de Leon Jr. points out that kundimans, broad in range, include not only love songs but also songs of consolation, social commentary, patriotism and songs of orphans. Abelardo’s ‘Nasa-an Ka Irog’ recounts an aborted romance between a wealthy suitor and his impoverished sweetheart. Rachelle was utterly pathetic, poignant in her longing as the abandoned maiden.

In Peña’s ‘Iyo Kailan Pa Man’ and in San Pedro’s ‘Lulay’, the maiden assures her partner of her undying love in the former song, the lover expresses his great anxiety in winning a diffident sweetheart, in the latter, Our kundimans and serenades are some of the most exquisitely lyrical in the world, and the pretty, graceful Rachelle ravished both eye and ear through eloquent vocal and emotive expression in both songs. How delightfully Ochanine captured the mood of each kundiman!

Rachelle’s rendition of “Hello, Hello” from Menotti’s one-act The Telephone was a theatrical and operatic feat that vastly amused and arrested attention.

The concert closed with Bruckner’s four movement ‘Symphony No. 4’ oddly titled “Romantic”. Oddly because it has none of the lush, flowing lyricism of the 19th century romantic composers. In fact, the work sounded rather long and tedious, with members of the audience restlessly shifting their positions as they listened.

Ochanine could not be blamed for the quality or characteristics of the symphony. For his part, he drew all he could from the form and substance of the score which he redeemed through the robust, vibrant blaring of the brasses against the tremulous, cohesive strings, the final tutti intensely throbbing in a hair-raising, masterful bravura climax.

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Eduardo Calvo, Director of Instituto Cervantes in Manila, gave the following remarks at the press launch of the Ballet David Campos of Barcelona performances of Sleeping Beauty and Giselle from March 22 to 25 at the CCP.

I would like to say that the ballet of David Campos would be best described as the expression in movement of Instituto Cervantes in Manila. And I say this because I deeply respect those who remember with nostalgia our common past, but I must say that the purpose of Instituto Cervantes is to build on today and tomorrow together with the Filipino people. David Campos fully shares this purpose with Filipino and Spanish artists who unite to show, day by day, this harmony through the universal language of dance.

It is a pleasure for Instituto Cervantes, together with the Embassy of Spain, to be among the cultural and commercial entities, as well as the institut Ramon Llull and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, to have collaborated in bringing the Ballet of David Campos here in Manila. I am certain that their performances will be very received by the Filipino public.

Personally, I thank David Campos and his dance company for their efforts in combining on stage these two clear sentiments: the Filipino and the Spanish, two distant points in the map, and yet surprisingly near in the harmonic stylization of their proposal. Thank you for coming to Manila; the spectators will most definitely thank you as well.











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