Monday, September 20, 2010

USTSO in Concert

Some months ago, I missed a performance of pianist Heliodoro "Dingdong" Fiell II with the UST Symphony Orchestra. I heard some nice words about Fiel's performance that I told myself that I'd make sure to see him if ever he performs again. And so he did have a performance with the UST Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jeffrey Solares at the CCP Main Theater which capped off a week of so many concerts/events for me.

It felt odd arriving at the CCP on a Sunday night and since this was a UST event, most of the people there were either students from the University or somewhat related to the institution. It was a totally different atmosphere compared to the September Gala of the Ballet Philippines or the PPO Opening Concert that I was also able to attend to the same week. But it was nice seeing some of the same people whom I saw a couple of times that week and also some people whom I was only able to see that time only.

The programme was a delight since it featured two Russian composers whose work I really like. But unfortunately, the orchestra had to start with Symphony No. 35 "Haffner" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I usually tolerate works by Mozart but this one intrigued me since I was warned by some friends from the orchestra that this piece was the one that gave them the most trouble during rehearsals. I didn't set my expectations too high on this performance but I was pleasantly surprised that their performance wasn't that bad at all compared to the previous times when they completely disappointed me.

I was prepared for a disaster but although there were messy parts by the horns and some of the strings during the Andante movement. They were able to make it through and the Presto of the fourth movement which was what they told me was the hard part was done okay. So although I am not too thrilled with Mozart's works, I guess that the USTSO redeemed themselves with this performance.

Then came the part that really interested me. Fiel's performance of Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bb Minor, Op. 23. The last time I saw this performed, the orchestra once again left me stunned because they weren't able to match the level of the pianist. This was another chance for me to see a performance of this concerto and I was hopeful that it would be decent this time.

Fortunately, there were only minor trips in this piece and the horns weren't as bad as I expected them to be. It just felt that the pianist and the orchestra found it hard to be in sync during the final moments of the third movement. And I admit that despite this being a piano concerto wherein I normally focus on the piano, I took more notice on the brass section since I had this dreadful feeling that they would play badly.

Fortunately, there weren't as many glaring mistakes and again, it took me by surprise. Overall, I was satisfied with Fiel's performance although his encore which was a modern piece left me a bit baffled. And I was glad that a friend finally introduced me to him. I'll watch out for his future performances for sure.

The last piece they performed was Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. A friend from the orchestra was quite proud of this one and she should be since they played it quite well. I really like the Promenade theme of this piece and I am glad that I was able to listen to it performed live.

It was just odd that this night, I concentrated more on the orchestra because of the ominous warnings of impending disaster that I received from some of the members. But honestly, they redeemed themselves with their performance and I do hope that this bodes well for their upcoming performances.


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