The Oxford dictionary defines a virtuoso as “a person highly skilled in music.” International pianist Raul Sunico, awesomely skilled, has further, an incredibly retentive memory, as proven in past concerts.
Recently, as guest of German Ambassador Thomas Ossowski, he interpreted a formidable program, demonstrating again his phenomenal memory and extraordinary dexterity.
Schumann’s “Fantasiestucke,” of diverse emotions and moods grew increasingly complex yet was rendered with astounding ease, fluency and dramatic force.
Sunico delved into Spain’s heart and soul in Albeniz’s Iberia Suite: El Puerto (a frenetic fiesta) and Triana (Gypsy music).
The Teutonic intensity of Wagner’s Liebestod conveyed a beauty more rapturous than in any other of Wagner’s works. Sunico’s power at white heat pictured the pitiful yet triumphant Isolde at the feet of the dead Tristan.
Exquisite lyricism surfaced in Abelardo’s Nocturne and Molina’s Malikmata.
Sunico fantastically projected Liszt’s bravura in the expansively descriptive legends: St. Francis of Assisi Preaching to the Birds and St. Francis de Paul Walking over the Waves.
Evler’s daunting arrangement of Strauss’ Blue Danube Waltz, through Sunico was a stirring, mind-blowing climax. In his gracious response to the request of the host’s visiting mother for a Schubert encore, he played Schubert’s Impromptu No.3 with singular urgency. When will Sunico cease to overwhelm his audience?
Meanwhile, Harana sa Dapit Hapon harked back to Dann Dolor’s Tribung Pinoy which revived decades ago our dwindling interest and admiration for native traditional music. Tenor Lemuel dela Cruz and soprano Liza Cabahug, in duets or solos, rendered folk songs, OPM and kundimans, the exquisite melodies of some of them remaining unmatched. The varied songs were interpreted vivaciously, the singers, particularly the tenor, enhancing the lyrics with vivid movements and gestures.
Velarde’s “Nakakaliti Kang Totoo” vastly amused; Cuenco’s “Kalesa” electrified. The tenor’s top notes soaring thunderously were sustained long and firmly. The soprano’s rather thin voice rang smoothly. Pianist Augusto Espino established excellent rapport with the duo.
The Kabayao Quartet—violinists Gilopez, daughters Sicilienne and Farida, and pianist, wife Corazon—were impeccable in songs mostly co-arranged by Gilopez. His father Doroteo composed “Philippine Lovers,” and in a labyrinthine solo, Gilopez’s sterling virtuosity shone. His student Jimmy Tagala, Jr. was his junior counterpart in the daunting solo “Bahay Kubo Variations.”
The Kabayao sisters showed a goodly share of their father’s excellent genes or talent in “Nais Ko” by Cayabyab-Kabayao. Profoundly moving in “Bayan Ko,” the Quartet was fluid and lambent in “Hatinggabi;” spirited and robust in “Padanggo.” Pianist Corazon manifested the highest degree of intelligence and musicianship.
Finally, the UST Symphony Orchestra held a concert entitled Reunion—the ensemble having been reinforced by alumni members, and making it thus far the largest. Under Herminigildo Ranera’s baton, it faithfully depicted the description of Shostakovich’s Festive Overture as “vital, fresh, spontaneous, infectious and rhythmically dynamic.”
Tchaikovsky’s most familiar Symphony, the No. 5, had the fate motive binding all the movements together intensely. Rossini’s symphonic tone poem, the William Tell Overture, was laced with melodious passages, its dramatic contrasts strikingly suggesting the operatic tale.
In Finlandia, the tone poem known as “The Voice of Finland,” the orchestra projected a vigorous, vibrant struggle against Russian oppression, the quavering strings, woodwinds, brasses and percussions creating a thunderous, triumphant climax.
Libertango, replete with distinctive, modern devices—all Piazolla’s own—had a quirky, robust rhythm deviating from the tango’s regular beat. The piece had a danseur who, after multiple turns and acrobatic feats, quickly disappeared, while six ballerinas moved briskly. All were members of Myrna Beltran’s dance class.
Admirably honed and disciplined by Ranera, the ensemble consistently arrested attention.
MSO at Salcedo Village
Constancia Lichauco, Barangay Bel-Air Captain, presented in early March “A Musical Carnival” featuring the Manila Symphony Orchestra under the remarkably authoritative conductor Arturo Molina.
A previous engagement prevented my attendance at the musical event but many past concerts for Barangay Bel-Air and the Salcedo Community have regularly presented classic music as well as works by distinguished Filipino composers. Entire families, with children in tow, hie to these more informal concert settings at the park.
Other barangay captains should emulate Lichauco’s example of heightening the residents’ admiration for the music of Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Schumann, Schubert, et al as well as our own native selections, specially for the youths introduction, education and appreciation of classical music.