Duetto played as one; Grace Lee’s ‘Halo-Halo’

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Rosalinda L. Orosa

Rosalinda L. Orosa

Internationally recognized pianist Mariel Ilusorio and Chilean violinist Juan Luis Muñoz, in matching elegant attires, performed at the Ayala Museum violin sonatas by Handel in D Major, Mozart in B Flat Major and Schubert in A Major.

Handel, as great a musical genius as Bach but sorely under rated, is better known for his operas and oratorios. The sonata interpreted was less melodious than the Mozart and Schubert sonatas. Nevertheless, it was a masterpiece, tightly structured, classically formal, in content and form. Its interpretation instantly manifested the superior talent of Ilusorio and Muñoz, their outstanding collaboration expressively reflecting the alternating vivacity and languor of the four movements.

The duo brimmed with verve and brio in Mozart’s Sonata; half-way the andantino sostenuto and cantabile became exquisitely lyrical, then started “galloping” through the end. The husband-and-wife team obviously enjoyed rendering the piece, a favorite of the iconic violinists Heifetz, Szigetti and Menuhin.

Musicologists aver that “to Schubert, melody came more easily than speech.” Therefore, it was no wonder his sonata was replete with utterly melodious passages, which were delineated by the duo exuberantly and vivaciously, particularly the first, second and fourth movements, these contrasting vividly and dramatically with the lambent and even more lyrically inspired Andantino.


As the “Duetto” progressed, it often occurred to the listener to compare pianist and violinist, and to ask, “Who is better of the two?” However, piano and violin are distinct disciplines. At any rate, Ilusorio and Muñoz matched the challenges of the sonatas with the keenest musicality and skill. To this reviewer, the pianist at times attracted more attention for the remarkable nimbleness and agility of her fingers and her artistic sensitivity.

But more significantly, in all three sonatas, the duo performed as one in mind, heart and spirit, their musical, technical and emotional resources commingling in impeccable togetherness.

Despite the lustiest applause after each sonata and the standing ovation at the end of the brief program, no encore ensued.

Meanwhile, Halo-Halo by Grace Hsieh-Hsing, also known as Grace Lee, will be launched on October 3, 3 p.m., at the Kaisa Heritage Center in Intramuros. Going by its title, the book contains a mixture of poems in Chinese, English and Filipino. Translations in Filipino are by multi-awarded literary figure Joaquin Sy; translations in English are by tradeware specialist Rita Tan who obtained an MA degree in Art and Archaeology from London University; translations in Filipino are also by Isagani Cruz, distinguished multi-awarded writer and professor and by Anita Aluggay.

The poems are charming, intriguing, amusing, enlightening and insightful, delving deeply into Philippine culture, history, customs and traditions. Further, as the back cover asserts, Halo-Halo intersects the two cultures: Chinese and our own.

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