Despite the detailed explanation in the program notes on Part’s Fratres (Brothers) for strings and percussion, the composition sounded like a study, an etude in dynamics, particularly, in pianissimos. Its almost inaudible opening continued to be sudbued indefinitely, with subtle changes in dynamics which Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor Olivier Ochanine eloquently conveyed. The various levels and degrees of soft tonal effects made the piece distinctive and unique.
“Alborado del Gracioso” from Ravel’s suite “Mireirs” consisted of tone pictures which illustrate Ravel’s typical instrumental skill, delicate, enchanting moods, lively, audacious harmonies. Alborado means (and I quote) “music at daybreak wherein lovers are warned of the approaching dawn in time to part ways.” The five pieces, musicologists aver, reflect images rather than emotions and I add, through modulation and rhythmic diversities.
The enlarged PPO numbered about a hundred members; Maestro Ochanine, in excellent form and in total control consequently drew more imposing and impressive auditory effects. Presumably, in due time, the orchestral volume and sonorities will match those of the foreign ensembles I have heard, among them the New York Symphony Orchestra under Serge Koussevitsky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Charles Munch.
This particular thought occurred to me during PPO’s rendition of the finale, Respighi’s “Pines of Rome.” Here, the pines were delineated descriptively in various scenes: at the Villa Borghese with the children playing and mimicking soldiers; near a catacomb which scene exuded a solemn, somber, gloomy air; at the hills of Janiculum as a nightingale sings, and finally along the Appian Way, with the music ending in a tremendous, overpowering, shattering climax that led to a standing ovation and the most clangorous, deafening and prolonged applause ever given a conductor. Doubtless, it was Ochanine’s most exalted moment!
Mederos charms audience
Midway through the concert, 75-year-old, much awarded Argentinian Rudolfo Mederos introduced the bandoneon to the audience. The instrument, resembling an accordion, is held between the hands which expand and contract it. Its keyboard travels parallel with the bellows in contrast to the accordion’s perpendicular ones; played with the fingers, most often by those of the right hand, announcing themes and melodies.
Mederos interpreted tangos and milangos mostly by Carlos Gardel, two pieces by Astor Piazzolla and two by Mederos who is also a composer.
Robust energy and vitality characterized the PPO’s accompaniment, with Conductor Ochanine demonstrating amazing conversance with Mederos’ Latin idiom. The soloist drew hearty applause for his performance but even for his charming, engaging presence made endearing by his smiling countenance, gestures expressing affection for his listeners, and amusing remarks, these translated into English by his interpreter.
Prior to the concert, CCP President Raul Sunico and Argentine Ambassador Roberto Bosch delivered welcome remarks and thanked sponsors, principally Rustan’s Nedy Tantoco.