Arts & Culture

Roustem Saitkoulov replaces Krystian Zimerman in Feb. 9 PPO concert

Roustem Saitkoulov, winner of the Rome Piano Competition and Grand Prix of the Montecarlo World Piano-Masters, replaces Krystian Zimerman in the Feb. 9, season concert of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO).

Pianist Roustem Saitkoulov. Another prizewinner replaces Krystian Zimerman.

This was announced by PPO music director Grzegorz Nowak during the weekend.

Novak also announced an entirely new program to replace the Zimerman repertoire. “It is going to be an all-Polish program,” he said.

Saitkoulov is soloist in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 while the rest of the program are by Polish composers Kurpinski (Two Huts), Karlowicz (Returning Waves) and Moniuszko (Fairy Tale Overture).

“There are many excellent works by Polish composers that deserve to be performed all over the world,” Maestro Novak pointed out.

Pianist Krystian Zimerman. A future Manila engagement is still possible.

A major reason is that many Polish artists are not promoting their music. “Szymanowski was a good friend of brilliant violinist Kochanski who performed his works all over the world. The reason why his violin music became popular. His other works had to wait much longer for world-wide recognition. like his opera King Roger which had successful revival in major opera houses.

(Filipino tenor Arthur Espiritu sang the role of the Sheperd in the Szymanowski opera with Melbourne Opera in Australia some years back. On April 4, the tenor will also debut with Polish National Opera as Rodolfo in La Boheme. Novak was music director of Poland’s foremost opera house.)

The conductor said he has done his share of promoting Polish music by recording CDs with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with complete tone poems of Karlowicz, world first recordings of Violin Concerti by Kletzky and Rozycki.  His DVD with Opera Goplana by Zelenski won “Operatic Oscar” 2017 from International Opera Awards in London in category of Rediscovered Works. His production of Paderewski’s Manru won nomination to the same award in 2019 even as Moniuszko’s Haunted Manor was named “Album of the Week” by The Times in London.

“The works of Kurpinski and Moniuszko will be heard for the first time in Manila in the Feb. 9 PPO concert,” he added.

PPO music director Grzegorz Nowak with tenor Arthur Espiritu and the author. A PPO evening with Brahms and Tchaikovsky Fourth is the best in the PPO season so far.

Novak and Roustem had collaborated in many concerts of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra including tours in the UK and Switzerland. “Roustem is brilliant technically and mature musically. He pays attention to original intentions of the composer. His interpretations are profoundly deep musically. It is always an evening of wonderful music making working with him.”

In the last PPO concert featuring a Brahms concerto with pianist Jerome Rose and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth (Fate)) Symphony, conductor and orchestra received tumultuous standing ovation and was deemed the best concert of the national orchestra.

“I want to present to our audience masterworks of the greatest composers and this program was one of those. Indeed, in the last concert, the orchestra and I were united in our interpretations and the audience was with us all the time. Our musicians worked very hard and with full dedication and it showed in that concert,” Novak said.

“In that performance, we seemed to step into a different world with music that unites all musicians and the audience with spirits of composers seemingly hovering over us. I always try to connect with composer’s intentions and spirit and transmit it to the orchestra and the audience. It was a terrific, wonderful feeling getting that kind of audience reaction,” the conductor enthused.

After the PPO concert on February 9, Maestro Novak will team up for the first time with Cecile Licad in a Women’s Month invitational concert to be held at the Manila Metropolitan Theater on March 19, 7 p.m.

He is very excited about it: “I am looking forward to work with this superb pianist and musician. I moved my concert in Madrid to an earlier date in order to be able to perform with Ms. Licad. Most certainly it will be a wonderful experience and, I hope, the first of many to come. I only wish that for this performance, the PPO could already acquire a brand-new Steinway fit for this generation. Licad and the PPO deserve it!”

The special event is spearheaded by Sen. Loren Legarda in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra Society, Inc. (PPOSI).

Women power is pretty much present in the March 19 Met program with Licad as soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No1 in BFlat MinorOp23. It winds up with Brahms Symphony No. 2 to be performed by the PPO under Novak.

(For ticket concerns and subscriptions for PPO concert, contact the CCP Sales and Promotion at The March 19 Women’s Month Met concert is strictly invitational.)