Indefatigable duo pianists Ingrid Sala Santamaria and Reynaldo Reyes mesmerized anew their listeners in their 23rd Romantic Piano Concerto Journey recently at the newly installed Recital Hall of the Philippine Women’s University’s (PWU) School of Music.
Cozy, with fine acoustics, the hall was a perfect, comfortable venue for listening to concertos rendered by two pianos.
Playing before music students, faculty members and music lovers the duo rendered two best-loved concertos, Chopin’s Concerto No.1 in E Minor, Op. 11 and Rachmaninov’s Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18.
Since they forged the duo in 2001, Santamaria and Reyes have mounted 500 concerts all over the country, around the region, and the North America.
In his brief opening remarks, Reyes said the touring duo was formed to promote Romantic concertos, apart from fostering cultural literacy through music arts. He added that listening to classical music was therapeutic as new brain cells were stimulated to grow, promoting the well-being of individuals.
He said his role was to collaborate with the soloist, Santamaria. He explained the transformation of the Latin word concertare or “fight,” into the Italian word concerto or “to come to an agreement.”
Indeed, their rendition was in perfect agreement. Reyes afforded pianist Santamaria solid support in the first concerto they performed, the Chopin. The soloist played with a burning passion, as she brought out the inherent lyricism of the work that tugged at the heart.
Sublime was her rendition of the second movement, “Romance,” which held the audience in rapturous listening.
With a broad dispatch, she played the concerto with gusto, and brought out those sweeping melodies in a singing manner. The tonal colors were brilliant, and were kept with fidelity to the required dynamics. Above all, she stayed connected with the piece throughout.
The audience burst into thunderous applause as the final note faded out. And soon the duo was on to yet another heart-tugging concerto.
In Rachmaninov’s second concerto, the duo’s energy level did not diminish. This time the orchestra part played by Reyes was more active and dynamic. Both showed their technical command and emotional warmth.
The duo afforded more sublime listening in the slow second movement. Here they intoned a ravishing dialogue. The warmth with which they etched their playing truly chilled the spine!
And when the more familiar main theme was sounded in the final movement, the audience was all the more electrified. With conviction, the pianists etched their lines boldly, which earned them a thunderous ovation punctuated with crisp shouts of “Bravo!”
In the open forum that followed, an elderly woman thanked the duo for their superb rendition that made the day closed gloriously.
Another listener rose to suggest that the duo and their Romantic Piano Concerto Journey be brought to the attention of the editors of the Guinness Book of World Records, saying that perhaps they were the only two pianists worldwide happily doing this kind of artistic endeavor for over 12 years now.
Reyes urged the music students to be true to their artistic calling and spend ample time doing things correctly. He batted for a strong technique and even demonstrated how to make one’s fingers strong, as he explained the principles of tension and relaxation and their unity, opposing they might seem to be.
Santamaria said playing the piano was her passion, which she wants to share to all. She acknowledged Reyes as her dynamic mentor, whom she convinced to form a duo with her to bring the concerto to the listening pleasure of the public.
This she said she did after her hiatus of a decade she spent with the formation of the Cebu Youth Symphony Orchestra in Cebu City, her hometown.
Since then, the duo has mounted two editions of the program every year and always with vigor, giving people the chance to listen to the world’s best Romantic concertos.