Violin-and-guitar concert enthralls audience

A violin-and-guitar duo chamber concert recently held at University of the Philippines College of Music enthralled a literate audience of academicians, students and music aesthetes.

They listened intently to the combined talents of two faculty members of the school. Accomplished performing artists in their own right, violinist Chona Noble and guitarist Nathan Neil V. Manimtim surged through a program of classical and contemporary works that included immortal Philippine works.

The buoyant timber of the violin and the mellow tones of the guitar blended to delight the listeners. Their rapport was tight, and collaboration was intelligent. They disclosed their soloist caliber with abundant ease and eloquently dispatched duo passages with equal prowess.

The audience’s appetite was whetted in the opening work, Nagel and Meunier’s arrangement of Handel’s Sonata in E Minor, from the original flute-and-harpsichord scoring. The duo etched suave lines and brilliant intonation that absorbed the audience’s listening.

There was a whiff of nostalgia when they performed well-known works of outstanding Filipino composers Nicanor Abelardo and National Artist for Music Antonio Molina, who had both taught in the college.

Written in song form, “Cavatina” by Abelardo and “Hatinggabi” by Molina never failed to allure and bring much patriotic pride. The pieces were handsomely arranged by guitar professor Lester Demetillo, Manimtim’s mentor.

On the second part of the program, the duo performed a tour de force, Astor Piazzolla’s excerpts from “Histoire du Tango” (History of Tango).

In Piazzolla’s hands, the common perception of the tango as a languid, melodious ditty gives way to a re-styled, revolutionized work. What was heard was a fusion of classical elements, jazz and, at times, dissonances expressed in arresting rhythms.

The excerpts gave an excellent program of three distinct life expressions—the brothel (“Bordel 1900”); coffee shop (“Café 1930”); and night club (“Night Club 1960”). Vividly, the duo depicted the characteristic sound associated with each part with brilliant colors.

More music from Argentina was dished out in M.D. Pujol’s “Suite Buenos Aires,” a musical tour of Buenos Aires which is curiously divided into “Pompeya,” “Palermo,” “San Telmo” and “Microcentro.” The work has some affinities with Piazzolla’s. Greatly influenced by Piazzolla, Pujol, a guitarist, also incorporates the tango in his work.

Here, the audience was treated to more solo passages of the guitar that the guitarist plucked handsomely. With equal verve, the violinist essayed her part, and together, the duo brilliantly rendered the work with elan that brought down the house.