Conducting for the last time the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra which, since 2010, he has considerably helped train, discipline, introduce new pieces and develop to its present degree of excellence, Maestro Olivier Ochanine wielded the baton in his usual fascinating, enthralling manner.
The initial number, Massenet’s “Suite No. 6 Fairy Scenes,” was a misnomer, in its title suggesting gentle airy music. Instead, it had brisk, robust movements, which ended in a vigorous, vibrant, bristling “Bacchanale.”
Eminent violin soloist Odin Rothman opened Wolfgang Korngold’s “Concerto in D Major” with long, extended pianissimo cadenzas which were masterfully controlled.
Before starting the piece, Rothman adjusted his violin, saying, “The fiddle is going through season shock from the snow and cold of New York.” Showing and sharing his humor and warmth with members of the audience they laughed and enjoyed that very short statement.
The finale, “Allegro assai vivace,” was a mind-blowing, non-stop bravura movement, which drew lusty applause. Rothman responded with an amazing, overwhelming virtuosic exercise. A standing ovation ensued.
Maestro Ochanine’s rendition of Enesco’s “Romanian Rhapsody No. 1” was indeed rhaspsodic, its tantalizing fortissimo outbursts interspersed with a spirited dialogue between the clarinet and oboe, the orchestral tuttis leading to a thunderous climax.
Sustaining the exciting momentum, Conductor Ochanine interpreted Ginastera’s Dances from the ballet “Estancia,” while inciting listeners to dance. The dazzling finale “Malambo” nearly shattered the rafters.
At concert’s close, a tribute was read and a plaque presented to Maestro Ochanine, by CCP VP and artistic director Chris Millado and CCP Board of Trustee Chairwoman Emily Abrera, after which Ochanine made the rounds shaking the hand of each and every member of the orchestra. What a warm, affectionate, ingratiating gesture!
I am deeply grateful to the Maestro for reprinting in his every program, excerpts of my review of his first concert in 2010. The excerpts read: “His ability to arouse and hold attention was as obvious as his lively rapport with the orchestra, while focusing on melody and form, he held a long sustained pianissimo throughout, ranging from “loud” to infinitely soft, almost inaudible pianissimo, making the superbly controlled rendition an incredible feat in dynamics.”
His final conductorial feat makes my observation even more richly deserved.
Through his endorsement and initiative, the PPO will perform under his baton in New York’s Carnegie Hall this coming June. A final heartfelt “Thank you!”