Troika’s daunting challenge met by Toledo and Coyiuto/Sampung mga Daliri, Atbp

SUNDRY STROKES - The Philippine Star

Audi Global, PGA Cars Centre in Taguig proved to be an acoustically excellent if smaller venue than the F. Santiago auditorium for the concert “Troika”.

In general, the music of the three Russian composers in “Troika” —Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Kha-chaturian — had great urgency, rhythmic drive and force, electrifying momentum, and a discordant, unmelodious quality in contrast to the exquisite lyricism of Rachmaninov, another Russian composer.

These characteristics were magnificently expressed by  Josefino  “Chino”  Toledo  as  he  wielded the baton over the Metro Manila Concert Orchestra. Shostakovich’s Festive Overture was opened by blaring brasses, and woodwinds, followed by cohesive, brisk strings, the percussions complementing its martial character.

In Prokofiev’s Lt. Kije Suite, there was rejoicing rather than grieving in Kije’s Burial; the music could send the dead rising from the grave rather than lying in eternal rest. In Romance and in Kije’s Wedding, the disjointed harmonies were not expressions of love or devotion.

Toledo intensely conveyed the bursts of energy, magnetic momentum and arresting accents — these sending the pulses beating, with the orchestra members thoroughly responsive to Toledo’s cues.

Khatchaturian’s Piano Concerto in D Flat Major was composed for virtuosos, Cristine Coyiuto undoubtedly among them! Awesomely, she reflected its dauntingly swift rhythms and harmonic vitality. Further, there was no apology needed for her gender. Despite her petite, fragile frame, she admirably matched the orchestra’s tumultuous fortissimos in the tuttis, leaving listeners breathless. After the sparkling allegro brillante finale, following the poetic andante, the audience rose in immense admiration for the pianist who had exceeded all its expectations. Toledo, for his part, had extended the fullest technical and aesthetic support.

The three Russian composers must have chorused “Bravo!” from their celestial abode, especially after Coyiuto’s brief but mind-boggling encore.

*  *   *

At the traditional “Sampung mga Daliri, Atbp”, now on its 29th year, the remarkable cohesiveness, discipline and unity of 10 or 20 pianists — students or alumni/faculty — again generated considerable excitement. Particularly appealing were De Falla’s Fire Dance and Les Toreadors from Bizet’s opera Carmen, the Toreador aria introduced by the Guitar Ensemble then taken up by the pianists, with arranger Alberto Mesa conducting.

Gounod’s Waltz, from the opera Faust, arranged by R. de Vilback, was conducted by Michael Jacinto; Nabucco came from Verdi’s opera of the same title, with the Rondalla Ensemble conducted by Ricardo  Calubayan; Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers was ballet music. The fascinatingly diverse program included Rachmaninoff’s Waltz conducted by Daniel Bartolome, a medley culled from American national hymns and the breezy Minor to You with the Jazz Band conducted by arranger H. Huyssen.

Whenever the singers performed, the pianists turned into assisting artists. In the Les Miserables Suite, with the Popera Chorus conveying striking panache under arranger-conductor Peter Paul Citra, a soprano tended to be strident. In Fr. Manuel Maramba’s Bakit Kaya, the timber of the four male singers was more luminous, even and rounded than that of the six sopranos.

If I recall correctly, K. Bautista’s Kape, arranged by R. R. Joson Hipona and rendered by the USTeMundo, veered toward the ethnic and was conducted by Teresa Montes.

Chacha Dabarkads! Gangnan! arranged by D. Atangan, and played by the pianists with the UST Symphony Orchestra under Herminigildo Rañera, made a tremendous impact with its relentless power.

The finale, Verdi’s Sanctus, Schoenberg’s One Day More from Les Miserables and Wagner’s Die Meistersinger chorale was an overwhelming aural experience created by some 200 singers from the USTCM Voice Faculty and Chorus Classes, the latter under Maria Theresa Roldan, the Liturgikon Vocal Ensemble under Eugene de los Santos and the Coro Tomasino under Ronan Ferrer, with 10 alumni pianists and the UST Symphony Orchestra. The collective volume of sound, unmatched, incomparable, unprecedented, was under Rañera’s baton.

Once again, the UST Conservatory headed by Dean Raul Sunico, Ph. D asserted its eminence through a concert which was a tribute to the late Dean Erlinda C. Fule. A printed message from Regent Jose Tinoko, OP, greeted the audience.


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