Sharing the spotlight: Ochanine and Rathman /Rachel, Cocoy in Cruz concert
SUNDRY STROKES (The Philippine Star) - March 1, 2014 - 12:00am

Olivier Ochanine recently conducted the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra at the Meralco Theater in a program consisting of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo et Juliette Fantasy Overture, Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod from the opera Tristan and Isolde, Debussy’s Clair de Lune from Suite Bergamasque, ending with Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D Major featuring American Odin Rathman as soloist.

Who does not know the love story of Romeo and Juliet? With Maestro Ochanine in excellent fettle, the audience immediately responded to the music which ominously portrayed Friar Lawrence foretelling the tale of gloom, followed by  fiery clashes between the Capulets and the Montagues accented by the brasses and the percussions, alternating throughout with the tender scenes reflecting youthful love, yearning and passion, these emotions reflected by increasing orchestral power, concluding with an overwhelming climax proclaiming the heart-wrenching tragedy befalling innocent sweethearts who are the inevitable victims of cruel circumstances. The harp, strings, percussions and brasses   played their respective parts with remarkable precision to help unfold the various phases of Shakespeare’s immortal love story.

Another love story, recounted in a totally different musical idiom, was Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod from the opera Tristan and Isolde which is widely regarded as an almost perfect music-drama. Its action is internal, not physical, being psychological. Thus, the particular scene is devoid of the Sturm und Drang typically Wagnerian, the tension, the restlessness, the intensity.

Nevertheless, the Prelude and Liebestod (Song of Death) was of exciting beauty, with its rich prescription rendered in full dynamics.

Despite limited influences —  Russian, Spanish, Oriental — Debussy’s subtle, glowing impressionistic music has been identified as wholly French. Often interpreted by pianists, his Clair de Lune, as conducted by Maestro Ochanine conjured through throbbing strings, a moon shining in a cloudless sky over a shimmering sea. Or a poetic abstraction thereof.

The engaging, personable Rathman, soloist in the Brahms Concerto, impressed this reviewer as among the best of the foreign violinists who have performed here. He interpreted the first movement warmly, the melodic lines surfacing beautifully amidst well-balanced orchestration. The cadenza was singular for its utterly breathtaking technical dexterity.

In the second less balanced movement, the adagio, Rathman vied with oboeist Rizalino Garcia for attention, the latter finally bowing out, while Rathman’s fluid grace continued to enthrall. The final allegro vibrantly and vigorously conveyed spirited Gypsy music which Rathman and the orchestra played with rhapsodic, dynamic flair.

I could not catch the names of the two encore pieces; the first was brief, executed  — legato; the second was an  amazing bravura composition with non-stop, forceful up-and-down bowing that electrified the audience.

At concert’s end, amidst lusty applause, Ochanine and Rathman embraced, a symbolic gesture that suggested an exchange of congratulations for the splendid performance and the impeccable, flawless rapport therein.

*      *      *

Eminent lawyer Avelino V. Cruz and his wife Helen hosted a commemorative concert at their DV residence on Cypress St. in honor of Atty. Octavio Cruz, Avelino’s father. The concert was highlighted by performances of leading soprano Rachelle Gerodias and pop icon-actor-painter Victor “Cocoy” Laurel.

Rachelle sang excerpts from Handel’s Messiah and All I Ask of You by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the latter with Atty. Michael Toledo. Cocoy’s selections were La Vie en Rose, Impossible Dream and Stouthearted Men.

Other participants were singers Lara Marie Moscardon Mague, Madonna Marquinez, Maan Ferrer, Chorus of San Beda Vox Legis, Marcy David and His Band and the Accra Law Band.

Bacolod, Silay, St. Paul U. Concerts

Violinist Chino Gutierrez and collaborating pianist Corazon P. Kabayao will give a concert in Bacolod on March 6, 7 p.m., and a mini concert-workshop at Balay Negrense in Silay on Mach 5, 3p.m. with the Mayor’s 90 violin scholars. Lyn Gamboa is organizer.

George Yang’s scholar, soprano Rosette Aguinir, will give her graduation recital on March 8,  p.m. at Founder’s Hall, St. Paul U.

*      *      *

This is my last column but I shall continue to write for The STAR as a contributor. My deepest gratitude to Ramon M. Lim for his highly judicious editing.


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