My apologies if updates with the blog had been extremely scarce of late. People might’ve started to think that there hadn’t been any classical music concerts in here during the past few months. But there had been quite a number in fact, and September is geared to be extremely busy with at least six concerts that I know of.
Just recently, I witnessed the performance of veteran pianist Ingrid Sala Santamaria with the Manila Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Professor Arturo Molina. This concert held at the Meralco Theater was in line with the 5th anniversary celebrations of the First Pacific Leadership Academy.
Sala Santamaria showcased her mastery in pacing oneself as she tackled two of the most popular piano concertos ever: Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23. Performing just one of the two is already taxing for a pianist and for her to do both in a single concert defies belief.
It was forgivable that both concertos were played in a more leisurely, relaxed manner than usual although I admit that there had been times when I wanted her to quicken the tempo as some portions dragged on. I thought that she appeared running out of gas towards the end of the Tchaikovsky but she showed that she still had it in her with her delightful encore of the final movement of Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25, a light, cheerful change from the heavy and brooding Rach and Tchaik.
While Sala Santamaria may no longer possess much of the speed and power of her peak years, she still exhibited sensitivity, musicality, finesse, and majesty. It helps also that she has a regal presence that hasn't diminished at all in time.
Prior to each concerto, conductor Molina led the MSO to a rousing rendition of Mikhail Glinka’s Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Festive Overture in A major, Op. 96.
It pleases me to point out that not only was the Meralco Theater filled to capacity, there was a diverse audience who were present ranging from Imelda Marcos, the regulars at the symphony, dozens of students, and surprisingly, even Gilas Pilipinas, the national basketball team that bagged the gold medal at the recent South East Asian Games.
Those who have missed this concert have other chances to see Ingrid Sala Santamaria as she performs Johannes Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83 with the MSO once again to be conducted by Christoph Poppen this October 14, 2017 at the BGC Arts Center, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. On March 16, 2018, she partners with Raul Sunico in Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in A flat major with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Yoshikazu Fukumura at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.