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Pianist Raul Sunico takes on Rachmaninoff

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RAUL SUNICO will perform four piano concertos by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff on Jan. 26 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. — MICHELLE ANNE P. SOLIMAN

RAUL M. SUNICO has been spending six hours a day rehearsing four piano concertos by one of his favorite composers, Sergei Rachmaninoff, the Russian pianist, conductor, and composer of the Romantic period, in preparation for a concert on Jan. 26. Mr. Sunico, together with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO), will be performing pieces by the Russian pianist at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) for the first time since 2003.

A concerto is “a large piece for solo instrument or orchestra, designed to showcase the soloist’s skills” as defined in The Classical Music Book by DK Penguin Random House. Rachmaninoff’s concertos are certainly a showcase.

A Rach Concert will feature the following Rachmaninoff piano concertos — No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 1; No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18; No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30; and, No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40. The PPO’s principal and resident conductors Yoshikazu Fukumura and Herminigildo Ranera will take turns conducting the orchestra.

“In music, if you don’t play the piece for quite some time, you [will] forget it,” Mr. Sunico said at last week’s press conference at the CCP, which he once headed.

“New pieces, before they are seasoned, sometimes you are not aware of the musical possibilities of a piece. You are only aware of the technical challenges. Those are the first things that your try to hurdle,” he said as he explained the process.

“When you already have solved the technical challenges, then you have more opportunities to interpret the work as your own in stylistic conformity with the composer’s intentions.”

He chose to perform the concertos “to project Rachmaninoff as one of the greatest composers of all time,” adding that the four piano concertos are not equally popular and that he “wanted for the public to understand and appreciate Rach’s less popular works.”

“He’s a romantic composer, very passionate, very dynamic, technically challenging,” he told BusinessWorld of the composer’s musical style, shortly after the press conference.

“I’m inspired by the kind of piece[s] he has. [They are] very soulful. He’s also a nationalistic composer. Nationalistic to Russia, of course.”

The concert will be held for the benefit of the Sunico Foundation for Arts and Technology Inc. (SFATI) which helps young gifted scholars in the field of arts and technology.

Mr. Sunico is now chair of the doctoral program in music of St. Paul University in Manila and a faculty member at the UST Conservatory of Music where he was the former dean.

For tickets, visit TicketWorld (www.ticketworld.com.ph, 891-9999) or call the CCP box office (832-3704). — Michelle Anne P. Soliman





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