Instrumentalist - Piano
Acclaim
Licad-acious
How often in a concert-goer's privileged existence does she get to watch a stellar cellist as soloist? (How wide is the repertoire for cello solo, how many professional cellists grace the firmament of our realm of music?) How frequently can the impresarios of CCP et al. bring to us the super performer Cecile Licad and her cellist partner together in one night, on one stage?

Alban Gerhardt, a Berliner, is the pianist Cecile's partner in their concert tours throughout the great cities of the world. If they have been romantically linked by rumor or curiosity, I think it's more accurate to describe them as soul mates. (In the world of the mystical - music is mystical, is it not? -- soul mates will not get to see a happy ending, as it is called, not until they have learned the lessons they keep postponing, incarnation after incarnation. Or so they say.)

Whatever their audiences saw and heard when they played on two successive nights at CCP, they were one in agreeing that the two played as one, two instruments blending so seamlessly, two artistic hearts beating in unison, two parts melting, smelting, one disappearing to let the other appear, one fading in favor of the other, until melody and harmony became yin and yang.

As rare as the program was beautiful, it was also rare to see and hear a performer praising his co-performer so effusively on stage. Mr. Gerhardt described Ms. Licad as "the greatest Rachmaninoff player," a soloist who is "too good to be an accompanist" -- each time his words accompanied by a wide grin, by a special twinkle in his blue eyes, and by the sound of genuine affection in his voice.

How fortunate for us that the show went on in spite of a series of unfortunate events that dogged our pianist. Like waiting two hours to be picked up at the airport, with neither the car nor its driver ever showing up. Being brought to the Green Room to rehearse, a room without a piano! Rehearsing with the orchestra in the basement - yes, basement. And, posters appearing four short days before the concert. By laughing off these irritants, Ms. Licad audaciously showed her true character. She's not only a great musician, she's a wonder woman!

Jullie Yap Daza, Manila Bulletin
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