Arts & Culture

MSO shines anew in Schubert’s ‘Great Symphony’


Conductor Prof. Thanos Adamopoulos in action.ONLY one orchestra in the country can claim to have a historic past and that is the Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO) founded in 1926 by Dr. Alexander Lippay and Dr. Herbert Zipper.

Thus, there is always something sentimental in MSO concerts.

MSO was temporarily disabled in the late 80s with the formation of the CCP Philharmonic (now the Philippine Philharmonic) and the Manila Chamber Orchestra and other satellite ensembles carrying other impressive names but actually using the same musicians.

In the late 80s, Zipper mounted a concert calling for the resuscitation of the MSO but by the time orchestra patrons and sponsors were already cornered by the newly born orchestras.

In 2003, violinist and former MSO concertmaster, Basilio Manalo, reorganized it with young and dedicated musicians and now the rest is history.

MSO trumpet soloist  Manu Mallearts. Playing with distinguished soloists from Cecile Licad to Joseph Esmilla and  Wilfredo Pasamba, among others, the orchestra found its old voice and has proven over and over again, it has nothing to fear from other well-subsidized orchestras.

Saturday last week, at the BDO Francisco Santiao Hall in Makati, the MSO under guest conductor Thanos Adamopoulos resumed its season concert series with Belgian trumpet soloist Manu  Mellaerts who is the artistic director of the Belgian Brass Ensemble and solo trumpet player of La Monnaie Opera House.

It opened with Mozart’s  Symphony No. 35  ( “Haffner”) which showed to a large extent the versatility of this orchestra composed mostly of new blood. The orchestra certainly went beyond clarity, balance and transparency to give the work a special stamp worthy of its composer.

By coincidence, the orchestra featured a trumpet concerto written by Mozart’s most famous pupil, Johann Nepomuk Humnel.

With  Mellaerts as soloist, the concerto gave Manila’s music lovers a rare distinguished sound of the trumpet as concerto attraction. The soloist has focus, unerring wind reserve and a kind of musicality that took one’s breath away.

Adamopoulos was in complete control of the orchestra as he molded the required dynamics of the piece with all the intrinsic details giving the piece a rarefied sound.

The evening’s piece resistance was obviously Schubert’s “Great” Symphony which must have drained the energy of the orchestra.

The mostly young members of the Manila Symphony OrchestraFrom the riveting  allegro con spirito movement to the graceful andante and menuetto sections, the orchestra was at its best giving the piece a special hallmark even with the tough challenge expected from its interpreters. The last movement had the audience holding its breath as the orchestra navigated its treacherous   sonata-rondo form while being obviously carried away by the movement’s rapid dynamic shifts.

The result was an exhilarating evening of Schubert, the likes of which comes rarely in one’s concert-going days.

The concert, according to Maan Hontiveros of the MSO Foundation, is a collaboration with the Belgian Embassy through His Excellency Christian Meerschman who made possible the participation of trumpet soloist  Mallearts and conductor  Adamopoulos.

The conductor’s pedagogical insights, added Hontiveros, were an invaluable experience for the MSO musicians.

From the way the orchestra molded  Mozart, Humnel and Schubert, one could safely surmise the pre-concert master classes worked magic.

(The next season concert of the MSO is on August 10 with violinist Diomedes Saraza, Jr. as soloist. Moreover,  Saraza will be heard with pianist Oliver Salonga in “An evening of Violin and Piano Concertos” on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at the UP Abelardo Hall.)