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To A Camia
Piano Music from Romantic Manila
Sally Pinkas (piano)
rec. 2018, Fraser Studio, WGBH Radio, Boston, USA

The Philippine Islands have a rich music history, heavily influenced by more than 300 years of Spanish domination and 50 years as an American colony. The years between the late 1800’s and the middle of the last century is often called the Golden Age of Philippine Music. Sally Pinkas is the Professor of Music at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire and a well-known piano soloist and chamber musician. She has recorded an intriguing collection of piano music written during this era by some of the Philippines’ finest composers.

The earliest numbers in this set were written by Ignacio Massaguer (1846-1906). Ignacio emigrated from Spain to Manila, married a local girl and composed the classic tune La Bella Filipina for his new wife. Sally performs the simple piece with a majestic touch, combining a Cuban rhythm with European flourishes. Dolores Paterno (1854-1881) wrote La Sampaguita, also called La Flor de Manila, in 1879. This Filipino classic is her only known work. Pinkas plays the romantic number with a gentle, lilting rhythm, inspiring visions of dancers graciously floating across a ballroom floor. Marcelo Adonay (1848-1928) was a major Philippine composer who excelled in church music. Raised and educated by Augustinian priests in Manila, he composed over 150 works in a variety of styles. Two of his waltzes are the quick-tempo La Julita and the dynamic La Marieta, both short in length and marvelously performed.

Three Philippine composers are collectively known as the “Triumvirate of Filipino Composers”; Nicanor Aberlado (1893-1934), Antonio Molina (1894-1980), and Francisco Santiago (1889-1947). Aberlado was a brilliant composer who combined chromaticism and European Romanticism and elevated kundiman, the Philippine’s signature love song, to art song form. In 1921 he composed Nocturne in C-Sharp Minor, similar in style to Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu, and Sally elegantly captures the mood of a lonely and longing walk in the night. Antonio Molina is known as the “Father of Philippine Impressionist Music” and composed in the style of Claude Debussy. He created Camia in 1942, named for the local flower also known as white ginger. Listening to this fascinating number sharpens the senses with the impressions of a garden full of birds and flowers on an early summer morning. Francisco Santiago is known as the “Father of Kundiman Art Song” and combined Western musical forms with folk materials in many of his compositions. In 1908 he composed Purita, a syncopated two-step number performed by Sally in a classic ragtime arrangement. My favorite number on this disc is Caricias, translated as “caresses”, composed by the little-known Philippine composer Juan de Sahagun Hernandez (1882-1945). The song is aptly named, a gentle, sweet and melodic habanera written in three sections, and performed with precision and grace.

An excellent 20-page booklet is included, with comments by Prof. Maria Patricia Brillantes Silvestre of the College of Music, University of the Philippines, and Dr. Maria Alexandra Inigo Chua of the University of Santo Tomas. The sound quality is excellent.

A very fine piano collection from the Golden Age of Philippine Music.

Bruce McCollum
Antonio Molina (1894-1980)
Camia (1942)
Mamer (Cradle Song) (1960)
Malikmata (Transfiguration) (1939)

Danzas Filipinas (Habaneras)
Dolores Paterno (1854-1881)
La Sampaguita (1879)

Julio Nakpil (1867-1960)
Recuerdos De Capiz (1891)

Diego Perez (Fl. 1870s)
Porque Llorabas? (1886)

Francisco Buencamino Sr. (1883-1952)
Harana (Serenade) (1945)

Juan De Sahagun Hernandez (1882-1945)
Caricias (Danza)

Francisco Buencamino Sr.
Sonrisa (1949)

Ignacio Massaguer (1846-1906) | (Trans. Buencamino)
La Bella Filipina (C.1870s)

Francisco Buencamino Sr.
Damdamin (Romance)

Francisco Santiago (1889-1947)
Nocturne In E-Flat Minor (1922)

Nicanor Abelardo (1893-1934)
Nocturne In C-Sharp Minor (1921)

Ignacio Massaguer
Violeta (Vals Facil) (C.1870s)

Marcelo Adonay (1848-1928)
La Julita (Pequeña Walz Lento) (C.1920s)

Francisco Buencamino Sr.
Gratitud (Valse Caprice)

Ramón Valdes Y Pica (1895-1960)
Valse (1923)

Francisco Buencamino Sr.
Kayumangui (1944)

Marcelo Adonay
La Marieta (C.1920s)

Francisco Santiago
In The Orient (Valsette In F Major) (1952)

Julio Nakpil
Pahimakas (1897)
Pasig-Pantayanin (1897)

Francisco Santiago
Purita (Two-Step) (1908)

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