Art-song recitals have been sorely missed on the local stage, so the recent staging of “Liederabend” (or “a night of art songs”), featuring the collaboration of soprano Andion Fernandez-Ching and pianist Abelardo “Abel” Galang ll, was timely.
The concert at Ayala Museum was presented by Philippine Women’s University (PWU). José Francisco B. Benitez, PWU president, said the concert would raise funds for scholarships.
The PWU Vocal Ensemble, a chamber mixed choir led by trainer Christopher Borela, opened the concert.
The first set featured students who had spent a three- day master class in voice conducted by Fernandez-Ching. The “harvest” was quite bountiful, judging by the exquisite rendition of the participants, such as boy soprano José Augusto Bernas, who sang Beethoven’s “Ich Liebe Dich.”
Soprano Gabrielle Yvette Parcon sang Quilter’s “Love Philosophy”; mezzo soprano Michelle Mariel Mariposa, Schumann’s “Aus den Hebraischen Gesangen; soprano Maria J. Flores, Mozart’s “Abendempfindung”; and soprano Stefanie Quintin, R. Strauss’ “Wasserrose.”
Pianist Jesper Colleen Mercado was collaborating pianist.
On the second half, Fernandez-Ching cut a regal stance as she entranced the audience with her biting singing.
She and collaborating pianist Galang received their education in Germany, and they showed intense intimacy and deep familiarity with the lieder, the German art song that primarily made up the program.
Fernandez-Ching introduced the first song, “Quatro Haikus Madrileños,” penned by her prolific husband Jeffrey.
It was, indeed, such a distraction for the ears not attuned to the “indifference” of new music that might have sounded irreverent to the unexposed.
However, such a rendition was a welcome preparation to the ensuing batch of art songs by F. Schubert, O. Respighi and R. Strauss, in which traditional melody and harmony reigned supreme and which were familiar to the audience.
Depth and strength
Fernandez-Ching’s voice showed added palpable layers of depth and strength. It disclosed a rich, earthy sheen that warmly luxuriates in the upper middle and lower registers.
In the Schubert songs, she sang with dispatch and a sense of urgency, at times declaiming with appropriate facial expression.
In “Standchen,” she was intensely lyrical and avoided an overstated sentimentality.
She brought out the understated elegance in “Gretchen am Spinnrade” that showcased the velvety texture of her vocal register.
On the piano, Galang afforded her an equal match that made their collaboration solid. –CONTRIBUTED