Debonaire MSO plays elegantly in concert with Belgian musicians

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TOP, trumpet soloist Mellaerts in solid rapport with MSO

The Manila Symphony Orchestra  (MSO) recently  gave the second concert of its season at the BDO Francisco Santiago Hall.

“The Trumpet Calls,” mounted by the MSO in cooperation with the Embassy of Belgium, brought to Manila two Belgian musicians, conductor Thanos Adamopoulus and trumpetist Manu Mellaerts. Manila audiences warmly received them.

The MSO musicians sported a new look; they were dashingly debonaire in their gala attire, with the men in black suits and the women in gowns of pastel, bright and dark colors. Their look certainly complemented their elegant rendition of the program composed of works of Mozart, Hummel and Schubert.

Under the Belgian guest conductor, the orchestra had hewn elegant symphonic lines, all expressed with fidelity to the particular stylistic nuance of the piece being performed.

In total command

The orchestra “serenaded” the listeners in the opening piece, Mozart’s “Haffner Symphony which was rendered vibrantly. The symphonic tone was well chiseled and relaxed, thanks to the meticulousness of the conductor who was visibly in total command. The rapport was solid as the orchestra exquisitely surged through the four-movement work.

At once the attention of the listeners was caught by the rousing opening “presto,” followed by the delicate, dynamically well-nuanced “andante,” then by the light, flowing “menuetto,” with, of course, a charmingly essayed trio, and a pompous “presto” which was written in the work’s key signature, the D major.

GUEST conductor and MSO musicians acknowledge applause.

Truly the rendition was impressive, a good start that whetted one’s appetite for more good listening, not to say a good preparation for the next number, the Concerto in E-Flat Major for Trumpet and Orchestra by Hummel, a student of Mozart.

Mozart’s influence was unmistakably felt in the first and more so in the second movements.

Impressive trumpet solo

Mellearts, the trumpet soloist, played impressively. His tone was singing and legate. He stayed on pitch despite the long phrasing  he etched, giving brilliant and rounded timbre.

Throughout, he caressed his tone that evenly flowed. There was no hint whatsoever of forcing out the music, and he kept his energy in high level.

Cutting a confident stance, he never wavered and played to the full all throughout the three movements. In the first movement, he rendered the cadenza with marvelous ease. Notably arresting were the arpeggios, trills, and ornamentations he fashioned out.

The orchestra gave strong support: after all, the scoring revealed a strong accompaniment texture.

The inclusion of the concerto was an occasion for celebration for Manila’s music lovers as the genre is rarely heard on the local concert stage. The superb rendition by the featured soloist endeared to the audience  the trumpet as a singing instrument, more than a brass instrument that usually is summoned for accompaniment.

In the more extended Symphony in C Major, Schubert’s last symphonic work, the orchestra played with gusto. It rendered the four-movement work with a burning passion.

Virile brasses

The symphonic treatment of the theme from one group of instrument to the other was done resolutely. The violins, which provide the backbone of the symphony, and the entire string section, projected well their tones throughout the entire work.

Albeit needing more projection, the woodwinds caught up to match the solid output of the rest of the instruments: an articulate string section, and virile brasses.

Listening to the song’s full import, one remembers Schubert’s statement: “My music is the production of my genius and my misery.” (He died at an early age of 31, after struggling amid dire poverty.)

It is perhaps high time for MSO to use risers for the wind and percussion sections. In addition to helping project the tonal output of the wind section, they would enhance the presence of its musicians situated at the back.

Notably made up of young, energetic musicians, many of whom are Namcya winners, MSO cuts a strong presence on the concert stage. Music lovers who wish to sustain the MSO program may wish to help by subscribing to its concert season and donating to its musical chair program.

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