Piano Bon-Bons From Romantic Manila

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 8

It comes as no surprise that this anthology of piano pieces by Filipino composers born between 1846 and 1895 is dominated by the influence of Southeast Asian and colonially-imposed Spanish traditions. Although most of the works are rather lightweight and salonish, pianist Sally Pinkas sustains interest by partitioning the selections into carefully programmed sections by genre, such as Habaneras, Romances, and Waltzes.

The three opening selections by Antonio Molina are inspired by literature, and draw upon more modern influences. By contrast, the three concluding pieces are unabashedly nationalistic; indeed, one might mistake Julio Nakpil’s Pasig-Pantayanin for a Sousa march, or Francisco Santiago’s Purita (Two-step) for a Joplin-era rag. If you put mushy lyrics to Francisco Buencamino Sr.’s lushly scored Damdamin, you’d get a sure fire Mario Lanza love song. Fortunately, Pinkas resists any temptation to camp it up, and she plays all of this music with heart, nobility, color, and taste.

The sonics are a little dry and close-up for music that cries out for more ambient breathing room. Yet let’s face it: will anyone else record these charming and virtually unknown bon-bons in the near future? Well, maybe I’ll take a crack at the Molina pieces for Steinway Spirio…just kidding, folks! The booklet contains superb and informative annotations with nifty reproductions of original sheet music covers. A worthwhile project, all told.

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Recording Details:

Album Title: To a Camia: Piano Music from Romantic Manila
Reference Recording: None for this collection

Works by Antonio Molina, Dolores Paterno, Julio Nakpil, Diego Perez, Francisco Buencamino Sr., Juan de Sahagun Hernandez, Ignacio Massaguer, Marcelo Adonay, Francisco Santiago, Nicanor Abelardo, & Ramón Valdes y Pica

  • Sally Pinkas (piano)

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