In 2003, celebrated international pianist Dr. Raul Sunico achieved a feat, unprecedented here or abroad, of rendering Rachmaninoff’s four concertos in one evening without a score.
In February, Sunico again accomplished a tour de force in the old Senate Hall, unprecedented anywhere in the world, by interpreting three concertos by Tchaikovsky. He did so again without a score, proving further his phenomenal memory.
The familiar Concerto No.1 in B Flat Minor is definitely for virtuosos. Undoubtedly, Sunico is one. His interpretation was a tour de force, his chords torrential, tremendous, his runs rippling, cascading, both chords and runs executed in the swiftest tempo.
How the concerto bristled with the opening monumental chords covering the entire keyboard!
As for expression, the slow andantino conveyed beauty and richness of tonal colors; subtly exquisite passages were poetic and lyrical in the andantino; overwhelmingly dramatic in the other allegro movements.
The previous Concerto No.2 in G Major, followed by Concerto No. 3 in E Flat Major, (allegro brillante) were characterized by the same spontaneity and robustness of spirit, Sunico undaunted by the rapturous allegro movements, playing them with typical ease, calm and fluency.
As the listener left the old Senate Hall, he felt as though a cyclone had hit him, a cyclone that had created powerful music rather than gusts of winds. Or the listener, dreamy, walked on cloud nine, the music so grand it was still ringing in his ears long after the concert.
This was the overall impression Sunico’s superlative performance had produced, made even more incredible with Sunico’s heavy burdens as president of the CCP and dean of the UST Conservatory leaving him little time for rehearsals. What a genius!
Incidentally, my seatmate, the cognoscente Ricardo Sobrevinas, whose company I totally enjoyed, informed me that Sunico had requested for a Steinway but it could not fit into the elevator!
The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Herminigildo Ranera opened the concert with the Polonaise from Tchaikovsky’s opera “Eugene Onegin.” He was a versatile Maestro with his remarkably rousing rendition of this and his excellent orchestral support of Sunico. A highly deserved standing ovation and clangorous applause were given pianist as well as conductor.
The musical event was sponsored by AIM whose president Steven Dekrey, Ph.D. delivered welcome remarks and later, thanked Isabel Juan, Ph.D. for her service as project head of the organizing committee. The Felipe R. Alfonso Fund behind AIM undertakes programs to achieve its ”vision of leadership.”
Cuna, Sozon, Carpio: architect, tenor, guitarist
The engaging, vivacious Rachy Cuna, interior decorator-designer and the country’s only floral architect, is his usual self busy decorating homes of the elite and creating floral designs that reveal his astonishing originality and innovativeness. With his inexhaustible imagination, he uses the most ordinary native materials for instance, bamboo, native sinamay, abaca rope, capiz shells, nacre (mother of pearl), etc., turning these into marvelous and amazing decorative items.
What makes Rachy immensely likeable is that despite the continued success of his annual exhibitions which fill the venues with admiring and open-mouthed viewers, he remains surprisingly modest and unassuming. Rachy Muna, Rachy Cuna!
Last October, Lyric Opera Philippines and Manila Pianos jointly presented the first of five mini concerts or recitals at Manila Pianos (CW Home Depot on Chino Roces Avenue, Makati). The mini shows are monthly events and will continue to be presented through February and March.
Tenor Sherwin Sozon explains that if people are given a regular schedule of classical voice/piano concerts in a specific venue, they will definitely attend them. The first presentation titled “La Serenata” featured tenors Sozon, John Glenn Gaerlan and Randy Gilongco.
The venue conveniently located in Makati, is near the MRT station, has ample parking space and has escalators and elevators. Eminent tenor Sozon expects that with the “perfect” showroom described, more and more music lovers will come and appreciate the art forms.
The newly founded Independent Philippine Art Ventures, Inc. (IPAV) headed by Viking Logarta as president, recently launched the debut album of Ramoncito Carpio, one of the country’s most awarded classical guitarists.