Amidst dazzling, almost blinding light effects onstage, Tanya Diaz, Leah Patricio, Nino Alejandro, Timmy Pavino, Rachelle Gerodias and Byeong In Park at center stage, belted out the Beatles’ song “Let it Be” as they stood on an elevated platform.
Soon, the platform was broken into single panels, with one or two singers performing on each. As they rendered the remaining Broadway and West End ditties, Philippine Ballet Theater (PBT) dancers, magnificently performed a series of pas de deux’s, a pas de trois, ensemble dancing by young ballerinas and danseurs—hence the program title “Dancing in One Voice”.
To solve the perennial problem of divided attention, the audience watched the dancers as it listened to the singers.
Dance styles ranged from classic (with ballerinas en pointes), to modern classic, to modern dance with acrobatic touches, to fast and furious free-wheeling movements that combined ballet and modern dance, the latter interpreted by young ballerinas in fetching, colorful costumes, and young danseurs. Behind the stylized mixture of choreography and song was artistic director Ronilo Jaynario. Anatoly Panasyukov, formerly of Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, has honed the dancers’ technical capabilities for years, the results ranging from excellent to brilliant, to skilled to highly competent—typical of PBT’s uncompromising standards.
Celebrated soprano Rachelle Gerodias and outstanding Korean Park Byeong In were performing for the first time after their union as man and wife. They interpreted a duet in the classic, fluid operatic manner that drastically contrasted with the lustiest belting out by the aforementioned powerhouse pop singers.
The ballerinas were Lobreza Pimentel, Ma. Regina Mabitang, Joanna Galeste, Rofel Artaiz, Irene Abrogena, Marie Desembrana,and Gladys Baybayan. The danseurs were Peter Lloyd San Juan, Mark Pineda, Adrian Ocampo, Matthew Davo, Jimmy Lumba, Julafer Fegarido and Crimson Guirjem.
PBT chairman Tricia Cepeda Sison and president Sylvia Lichauco de Leon gave welcome remarks prior to the immensely delightful, successfully innovative concert.
Sunico’s endless feats
My reviews of Raul Sunico’s past piano concerts repeatedly use such adjectives as virtuosic, amazing, astonishing, and refers to his unprecedented feats: e,g., his rendition of Rachmaninoff’s four concertos in a single evening without scores, his performance of three Tchaikowsky concertos—all these works culled from Sunico’s incredible repertorie of 25 concertos. Further, they prove his phenomenal memory, singular technical skill and artistry.
His latest feat was interpreting Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 3, accompanied by the Metro Manila Concert Orchestra on its 15th anniversary, under conductor Josefino “Chino” Toledo.
The daunting concerto consisted of thunderous chordal passages, arpeggios, runs, glissandos, the most complex fingerings, one hand over the other, all consistently in the swiftest tempo. Sunico remained poised and unfazed throughout the challenging piece, his rich tonal hues alternately brilliant or subdued as demanded by the dissonant, atonal harmonies and discords. How deafeningly powerful were the climaxes!
The keenly perceptive Toledo sustained a racy, spirited dialogue with the pianist.
In Carnival Overture by Glazunov, Toledo hewed closely to its traditional style in contrast to the more dramatic, bravura manner of Mussorgsky, Prokofiev and Stravinsky, while keeping tempo brisk and martial.
In Kasilag’s Philippine Scenes, Toledo eloquently and engagingly recreated the ethnic and indigenous through certain native instruments, exotic rhythms and melodies.
The concert ended with Chabrier’s Joyeux Marche, with Toledo reflecting its cheery, delightful air.
MMCO Foundation chairman Boysie Villavicencio was justifiably proud of the concert’s distinct success.
Chino, a Paganini?
If virtuoso violinist Joaquin “Chino” Gutierrez, as guest artist of German Ambassador Thomas Ossowski, had played no more than the opening and closing pieces, the concert would have been thoroughly impressive. The first, the unaccompanied Chaconne by the great musical genius Bach, was long, arduous, daunting: the second was Ravel’s dazzling, awesome Tzigane with its stirring cadenza. The rendition of both works led to the query: Is Chino a future Paganini?
The other selections also enthralled and magnetized listeners: Beethoven’s Rondo-Allegro from his Sonata in D Major; Kabayao’s deeply touching La Deportacion on Rizal’s exile in Dapitan; Elgar’s delightfully whimsical piece appropriately titled La Capricieuse. For masterfully and faithfully delineating the style and content of each piece, Chino garnered the lustiest applause ever given a violinist and a standing ovation. To these he responded with an unaccompanied Kreisler work and Bayan Ko.
Eminent pianist Greg Zuniega marvelously complemented every single note Chino played.