Sunday, March 29, 2015

Raul Sunico concert in the spirit of Philippines-Germany friendship

Pianist Raul Sunico

Raul Sunico, piano

Robert Schumann
     Fantasiestücke, Op. 12
Isaac Albéniz
     Iberia Suite, El puerto and Triana
Richard Wagner/Franz Liszt
     Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde
Nicanor Abelardo
     Nocturne in C sharp minor
Antonio Molina
Franz Liszt
     2 Légendes, S.175
Johann Strauss/Adolf Schulz-Evler
     An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314 The Blue Danube

World renowned pianist Raul Sunico showcased his vast repertoire at a concert held recently at the residence of German Ambassador Thomas Ossowski. Less than a month after setting a record by playing three Tchaikovsky piano concertos in a single concert, Sunico performed a totally different lineup of solo piano pieces in front of an intimate audience of selected guests.

German Ambassador Thomas Ossowski and Raul Sunico
Photo courtesy of the German Embassy

After welcome remarks by Ambassador Ossowski, the concert commenced with Sunico performing Robert Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, Op. 12. A suite made up of eight short pieces that made for quite a hefty concert opener as the music journeyed through the realm of dreams and possibly nightmares. Sunico followed it up with two pieces from Isaac Albéniz’ Iberia Suite which were El puerto, a lively depiction of a busy fish port and Triana, named after a gypsy quarter in Seville and infused with the dances paso doble and the sevillana. There was no mistaking the Spanish character and flair of the Albéniz’ music. It was indeed a revelation to hear these Albéniz pieces performed by a solo pianist since the more often performed orchestral arrangement is more familiar to me. A soaring Franz Liszt transcription of Richard Wagner’s Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde was brilliantly rendered by Sunico right from the unsettling “Tristan chord” at the beginning up to the piece’s stirring climax with the piano resonating as if there was a symphony orchestra inside the living room.

DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo and wife Rowena, Raul Sunico, and Luisa Zaide

Filipino music was also represented that night through Nicanor Abelardo’s sublime Nocturne in C sharp minor and Antonio Molina’s mysterious Malikmata. Sunico was able to conjure images with his rendition of Franz Liszt’s 2 Legendes, S.175.

The lightness of St-François d'Assise La prédication aux oiseaux made me imagine that it was the small, friendly birds and not the birds of prey that he was preaching to. But the weighty and grand chords of St-François de Paule Marchant sur les flots brought imagery of turbulent waves that he was able to sail through via an improvised raft and sail after getting denied by a ferryman to carry him.

Diether Ocampo and Raul Sunico

For the finale, Sunico went for the crowd pleasing Adolf Schulz-Elver’s transcription of Johann Strauss’ An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314 more popularly known as The Blue Danube. While the popular waltz melody takes centerstage, 20th century harmonies and dissonances included by Schulz-Elver gave it modern sensibilities. Not wanting the concert to end, one of the guests requested a certain Franz Schubert piece which Sunico unfortunately didn’t know. To satisfy the lady’s Schubert request, he played the composer’s lyrical Impromptu in G flat major, Op. 90 No. 3 instead for an encore.

RAd and Ambassador Thomas Ossowski

Raul Sunico’s concert was organized by Ambassador Thomas Ossowski and the German Embassy to promote cultural dialogue and also to celebrate the friendship between the Philippines and Germany. Among the guests in this evening included NCCA Chairman Felipe de Leon Jr., DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo, Swiss Ambassador Ivo Sieber, Monaco Consul Fortune Ledesma, eminent music critic Rosalinda Orosa, actor Diether Ocampo and equestrienne Michelle Barrera, and of course, members of the German community residing/working in the Philippines.

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