Thursday, October 28, 2010

Duo Concertante

After the MSO A New World performance, Joseph Esmilla was convincing some violin students to come back the next night at the Philamlife Auditorium to watch another concert featuring cellist Qin Li-Wei and pianist Albert Tiu. I am not a violin student but I was one who needed little convincing to watch the concert he was referring to entitled Duo Concertante. And for those who were keeping tabs of my activities would note that this would be my third concert in three nights. And it seemed that it was also the same for most concert regulars since I saw them again for the third night in a row. I just hope that they aren't sick and tired of seeing me always.

For this night, the traffic and the weather has somewhat eased a bit and it wasn't as difficult for me to get into the concert venue which was a very welcomed relief for me and for everyone else. And people were in high spirits at the lobby before the performance started.

The concert started with a totally unfamiliar piece for me: Ludwig van Beethoven's Variations for Cello and Piano in E flat Major on "Bei Mannern welche Liebe fuhlen" from Mozart's Magic Flute, WoO46. As expected, it wasn't easy for me to get into the groove of things and I was completely lost as the variations went on. But I noted how good the cello sounded and it made me anticipate the next pieces which, fortunately, were rather familiar to me.

The next piece was Frederic Chopin's Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, Op. 65. Chopin is famous for his piano music and this year has been very special for him since it's the bicentennial celebration of the year of his birth, there have been numerous concerts and performances paying tribute to him. But all of these past performances were focused only on the piano, both solo and with an orchestra. So it was nice to finally hear this piece and I admit that it was the first time for me to see this performed live. It's very interesting on how this compared to other works of Chopin that I love so much. Again, I was very much drawn to the cello despite me being more familiar with the piano.

My most awaited piece for the night was Sergei Rachmaninoff's Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, Op. 19. I've first heard this piece played before during a student recital and I immediately liked it despite focusing more on the difficult piano part. So I welcomed another opportunity for me to see a performance of it once again. And I knew right then and there that it would be the cellist and his wonderful sound where my focus and attention would be.

I don't want to compare performances but Li-Wei really was the highlight in this piece and it made me realize how amateurish the student recital performance was. I was deeply moved by the Andante of the piece. I am usually drawn to the pianist but Li-Wei commanded the stage and I couldn't help but admire this piece once again fully realizing that it could sound this good. I now doubt if I would be able to hear this piece performed this well.

For an encore, they did something very cheeky indeed. Since they had little time to practice the planned pieces together, that left no time to practice whatever encore piece they might have had in mind. So they did a piece which is the usual encore for cellists which was Le Cygne by Camille Saint Saens. I did find this cheeky since Tiu once played a piano transcription of this piece as an encore to earlier this year. So it might've been a shortcut since all cellists are virtually required to know this piece and Tiu has played this piece as well. But the audience appreciated this a lot since this is indeed a very popular piece that never fails to please the crowd.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to observe Li-Wei's masterclass the next day since I had prior commitments and it was too early for me and would just disrupt my schedule.


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