Uncategorized Conjuring colours of the Philippines

Conjuring colours of the Philippines

The Juan, Mariel and Friends concept is as much about providing a platform for others as it is a performance outlet for Juan Muñoz (violin) and Mariel Ilusurio (piano).

Built into this design is the opportunity for nurturing and sharing. The inclusion of South African singers Sibusiso Mkhize, Songezo Bomvana and Nosipho Dyanase represents Ilusorio’s wish to share the art music of her native Philippines with South African performers and the wide range of festival goers.

This allowed for a nationalistic theme to develop, hence the inclusion of Dvořák’s G major Violin and Piano Sonatina at the start of the programme. Here Czech nationalistic elements were to the fore; an appetiser for the Filipino music that followed.

Ilusorio set the standard from her first authoritative chords of the Dvořák Sonatina. An accomplished musician to her fingertips, the music simply oozes from Ilusorio in a natural, uncomplicated manner. Throughout the recital, her pianism sparkled and glittered with finesse, while her treatment of dramatic elements revealed a full-bodied fire that never degenerated into percussivity.

Ilusorio is an artist in the true sense of the word.

Muñoz impressed with his sweet tone production and faithfulness to the text. Every nuance, inflection and dynamic marking was observed in his detailed interpretation of the Dvořák Sonatina.

However, in the Four Philippine Classics arranged by Redentor Romero a more ardent artist emerged with his soaring cantabile to the fore.

Lagi Kitang Naaalala was particularly impressive with Muñoz’s caressed phrases revealing the romantic core of the music. In these four pieces, Ilusorio as collaborative pianist soared to new heights, communicating an unbridled passion and sumptuous forte tone.

Notwithstanding their praiseworthy performance, these works were the least representative of Filipino art music. They could have belonged to the oeuvre of any competent Victorian-Edwardian salon composer.

Two songs by Lucio San Pedro and Francisco Santiago showcased the true essence of Filipino art music with a distinct harmonic and melodic idiom emerging within a western framework.

Songezo Bomvana (soprano) navigated each song’s intervallic angularity with ease. These are art songs out of the top drawer, with the accompaniments conjuring up the colours and textures of Filipino culture.

The other two songs on the programme, Sampaguita and Bayan Ko, both ably sung by Sibusiso Mkhize and Nosipho Dyanase, owe much to the Spanish colonisation of the Philippines and display the impact of multiculturalism in the formation of a Filipino nationalistic music style.

The influence of a western conservatoire styled training on Filipino musicians is easily observed in the three piano solos Ilusorio delivered. Each work contains thematic references to Filipino culture within the structure of a specific western idiom.

Souvenir de Filipinas by Santiago requires a virtuostic Lisztian-styled technique, abundantly demonstrated by Ilusorio. The vast impressionist canvas of Felipe de Leon’s Igorot Dance had Ilusorio exploring the full range of tonal possibilities the Beethoven Room’s Bösendorfer can offer. Chord streaming and non-functional harmony appropriately clothed the eastern-oriental germination of this piece.

Bontok IIi by Rosendo Santos is a technically demanding piece that develops a Filipino idiom within the expanded tonal dissonance of the score.

Ilusorio is to be complimented for thoughtfully, tastefully and respectfully preparing and presenting this tribute to Filipino music.

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