Betsy’s ‘Atmosferografias’/ Lorenzo Medel: A Reprise; Auditions abroad await him

SUNDRY STROKES - The Philippine Star

Last Thursday, the exhibit “Portrait of an Artist: Betsy Westendorp” opened at Manila Contemporary to a vast gathering which included Conchitina S. Bernardo, Marybeth L. de Leon, Cedes L. Vargas, Rachy Cuna, Ching Montinola, Cora Alvina, Nena Casimiro and Maruxa Pita. On view until Feb. 10 are Betsy’s mind-blowing skyscapes or “atmosferografias” (a Spanish term no longer in use), as well as other works such as Betsy’s own self-portrait.

Cid Reyes, recipient of AAP’s Best in Art Criticism Award, writes an extensive description of Betsy’s skyscapes, entitling his piece cleverly and appropriately “The Sky Is the Limit”.

Herewith I quote excerpts from Reyes’ critique: “Famous for her lush and voluptuous floral bouquets and gardens, Betsy Westendorp is no stranger to the mysticism and wonder wrought by Nature. The sensitivity of emotion that lies at the very heart of her artistry comes to the fore when she attends to a subject that refutes the coherence of form, such as what her flowers have bestowed in blessed abundance. For the subject which Westendorp investigates in her current exhibition is light itself: its radiance, luminance, and transparency, that is given reality and design by sunsets, skies and clouds. As such, Westendorp revels in the currents of Romanticism. Indeed her appetite for the spiritual seductions of Nature commits the artist to the awesome power and the deep, vast mystery residing in the works of Romantic artists such as John Constable and JMW Turner.

Westendorp’s cloud paintings are her personal journey into the sublime. It was the British statesman Edmund Burke who remarked: ‘All that stun the soul, all that imprints a feeling of terror, leads to the sublime.’ Although Westendorp never visibly shows the human presence in her paintings, “Man – as represented by the viewer – participates in the emotional awe and turmoil summoned by Westendorp’s paintings.”

*      *      *

To my deep regret, I missed the recent piano concert of 17-year-old prodigy and rising virtuoso Lorenzo “Enzo” Medel. I was present at his previous concerts, each always more remarkable than the last. Lorenzo’s mother Dr. Ruth Bueno Medel kindly sent me a program of his recent concert consisting of works by Bach, Beethoven, Abelardo, Chopin, Liszt and Bartok, climaxed by Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, this assisted by the MSO under Arturo Molina.

Rachmaninoff composed complex concertos for himself. He being a titanic pianist, with tremendous power in his large hands and long fingers, any concerto of his would be a daunting challenge to play.

I did not hear Lorenzo’s interpretation of the Rachmaninoff concerto, but the printed program quotes excerpts of my reviews of his past performances.

On Mendelssohn’s Concerto in G Minor which Lorenzo played at age 12, I wrote in part: “The Concerto, the most convincing proof of the pianist’s exceptional gifts, reflected much more maturity than what was warranted by his tender years. Indeed, his rich tonal hues, expressivity, musical intelligence and brio, especially in the cadenza, made him tower above many of his senior peers.”

At 14, Lorenzo rendered Beethoven’s Concerto in C Minor, and I described his interpretation as “a tour de force.”

At 15, Lorenzo played Liszt’s Concerto No. 1, and I wrote on the recital the following: “From the start, one could not help but marvel at Lorenzo’s sensitivity, musical intelligence, sureness of touch, precision, depth of feeling… His subtle tonal gradations, cascades of sound infused poignant beauty into his performance.”

Other critics have likewise lavishly praised Lorenzo, and as he inevitably progresses, I presumably would have described his latest engagement as “an even more amazing tour de force.” Understandably, auditions abroad await Lorenzo.

Orchestra Nipponica due

To mark Japan-Phl Friendship and the 40th year of ASEAN-Japan Cooperation, the Orchestra Nipponica Tokyo will come to Manila. Conducted by Tatsuya Shimono, the orchestra will render at the Philamlife Theater on Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. North-Silver-Night, La Danse, Entre-Temps, Santiago’s Nocturne in E Flat Minor, Buencamino’s Maligayang Bati and Maramba’s New Work.

On Feb, 9, 8 p.m. at the CCP, the program will consist of Symphonic Poem for Yokobue, Symphony No. 1, Sinfonia Tapkaara, and local pieces by Herminigildo Rañera and Buenaventura.

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