by jun asuncion
If you understand that music is a craft, then you would also appreciate watching how musicians work offstage in full concentration as they give form to a printed music and refine the details. It is hard work. Personally, I enjoy more watching rehearsals or musical workshops for that matter than concerts for the simple reason that I learn more about music. In a concert situation you’ll only find yourself adoring the artist after a virtuosic or in your own opinion a perfect piano playing and interpretation. But if you ever learned something about the music and techniques, that’s another question.
I have seen two years ago how Aries Cases rehearsed his pieces in the morning before his evening concert, and how he was completely absorbed in his playing amidst the noises around him as chairs were being pushed and pulled, mics and mixer being tested, stage screen rolled up and down, tables set, etc. Aries just went on undisturbed, hovering his fingers on the Steinway keys, playing a barrage of perfect glissandos of Liszt’s Mephistopheles Waltz, Beethoven’s Appassionata, to name just a few of his very heavy playlist that evening of 2009. After his rehearsal, I helped him re-position the piano in search of the point on the stage with the best acoustic return for the pianist. And then we talked about music.
Now, as my mind is full with classical music again in anticipation of Aries’ concert in Zürich next month, I was fortunate enough to have found uploaded video materials with Aries and his student during a master class on Beethoven’s piano works held in Manila. Here you can see how a master shows the student the finesse of piano playing and musical interpretation.
I look forward to meeting Aries next month with Franz Liszt in his luggage, I mean in his head, for I know he will be playing Liszt’s piano works wholly from memory. I’m over the moon as I imagine to hear live Liszt’s Liebestraum, Hungarian Rhapsodies, Trancendental Etudes and perhaps Nuages gris. This year marks the 200th birth anniversary of Franz Liszt, the enfant terrible of piano in his time who, in 1848 in his mid-age, had left the concert stage and retired into seclusion in search of new musical forms and harmonies which resulted in his symphonic poem – a one movement orchestral music- and in works containing whole tone scale, parallel fifths, diminished and augmented triads and dissonances, thus breaking the walls of classical constraints and laying the foundation for 20th century composers like Ravel, Bartok and Debussy and anticipating to a great extent modern musical forms as rock and jazz.
My acknowledgement to Aries’ student for his uploaded video clips.
Vienna based pianist Aries Caces is one of the most versatile Filipino concert pianists. Aside from being a chamber musician and repetiteur, he is also a conductor. The late Manila critic Vilma Santiago-Felipe described him as “another gem in the Philippine music scene.” At the age of seven, he enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Conservatory of Music as a personal scholar of Prof. Feliza Custodio. From 1980 to 1985, he attended the Philippine High School for the Arts and the UST Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Prof. Ernestina Crisologo and Prof. Bernardino Custodio. In 1982 he won First Prize in the National Music Competitions for Young Artists (Piano Category). Two years later, he was runner – up in the Manila Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competitions. Caces came to Graz, Austria in 1985 upon the invitation and arrangement of then Austrian Ambassador to the Philippines, Dr. Friedrich Posch. He studied with Prof. Walter Kamper at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Graz. From 1986 to 1993, he was under the tutelage of world-renowned pianist Prof. Paul Badura-Skoda at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna. He finished his “Diplom” in 1989 and obtained his Master’s Degree (Magister Artium) in Piano Performance in 1994 under Prof. Roland Keller. He also studied Piano Chamber Music with Prof. Georg Ebert. In 1999, he finished his “Diplom” in Conducting at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna under the tutelage of Prof. Uros Lajovic. Caces has performed several solo recitals and various concerts in the Philippines, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.S.A. In 1989, he was soloist of the Hochschulsymphonieorchester in a concert performed at the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna. He was awarded the “Prix Decouverte” during the Festival International de Musique in Le Touquet, France in 1991. He has also played as soloist of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, UST Symphony Orchestra and the Hannover Kammersymphonieorchester. In 2001, he was a featured soloist of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra during its first European tour. He was a recipient of several scholarships, including the Makiling Academy and Research Institute for the Arts (MARIA), UST Conservatory of Music Alumni Association, Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines, Cultural Center of the Philippines Young Artist’s Fund and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research.