Thursday, October 28, 2010

PPO II - The Emperor

I always make it a point to arrive at concerts with time to spare but this time, it was such a nightmare for me. It took me more than three hours to get to the CCP in order to catch the PPO's second concert for the season entitled "The Emperor". And I got really worried that I might miss the Beethoven piano concerto lined up which was the main draw for me. Fortunately, I managed to arrive just in time and found my seat as the concertmaster walked on stage.

Since I arrived just in the nick of time, I wasn't able to focus on the first piece which was Bela Bartok's Two Pictures, Op. 5. Bartok's pieces for me need much more focus for me to really grasp and with a haggard mind still reeling from the agonizing hours of being stuck in traffic didn't cooperate at all. So it was an absolute failure for me to even absorb much of the music despite the efforts of the orchestra and their conductor Olivier Ochanine.

Thankfully, the next piece was Franz Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 104 in D Major which is also called "London". And this one was classical in every sense and very easy for me to grasp. I am not extremely fond of his music which is too happy for my taste but it was nonetheless a welcome relief.

I welcomed the interval with open arms since I was finally able to breathe and take in the sights and happenings at the lobby which I failed to do so before the concert. I then heard that there were other people too who had difficulty in arriving at the venue and that there were a bunch of guests who completely missed the first half. So around this time when I was finally able to gather my faculties together completely, I was already prepared for the highlight of the night's performance.

For months I've waited for Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat Major, Op. 73 to be performed. I've already seen the 3rd played last January and the 1st and 4th played a few months ago. I don't care much about the 2nd so it was just the 5th, popularly known as the Emperor, that I needed to see.

So the moment has arrived and the pianist featured for the night was Georgi Slavchev. And he was brilliant in this piece. But I got distracted by some iffy moments with the horns during the secondary theme passage which was my favorite but I just have to accept that faltering horns are a fact of life. And there were times when the orchestra missed it's mark and wasn't in sync with the pianist especially during the end of the cadenza. But those are just minor kinks which didn't really ruin the performance for me. For an encore, he played a piece which sounded like one of Chopin's Mazurka's but for the life of me, those Mazurka's aren't my favorite Chopin pieces so I never bothered to know them well so I can't provide details on what specific opus, number and key it was.

So despite the bad weather making it difficult for me and a lot of others to arrive at the CCP Main Theater, I was told that the attendance was in fact one of the biggest for a PPO performance. But a lot of young adults who watched the concert tumbled over to Star City right after so they weren't able to meet Ochanine and Slavchev who hung out at the lobby. Bad for them but good for us who were able to have photos taken, programmes signed and chat with them for a bit. And it was very nice of Dr. Slavchev to give us a copy of his CD. As I ended this night and catalogued it into my vault of memories, I am extremely grateful that what started horribly ended in such a high and happy note that only made this experience more memorable.


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