Sally Pinkas Plays Haunting Filipino Miniatures

Boston-based pianist Sally Pinkas's new recording of exquisite music from the Spanish and American colonial eras in the Philippines – made in our Fraser Performance Studio – is WCRB’s CD of the Week.

Israeli-born pianist Sally Pinkas has taught at Dartmouth College for many years, where she is Pianist-in-Residence. It was through some imaginative cross-pollinating between departments that she found herself invited by colleagues to take part in a symposium on the Fine and Performing Arts in the Philippine Islands before the Invasion of 1898. She absorbed a collection of piano pieces with love and curiosity, and her masterfully nuanced and intelligent playing has given this music a perfect champion.

From the 1500s through 1945, the Philippine Islands were colonized by Spain, the United States, and Japan. The CD’s beautiful and extensive liner notes describe the music that evolved out of the fusion of Southeast Asian culture with colonially-imposed Western traditions.

It was in the late 1800s in Manila that Filipino salon music was born, adding atmosphere to gatherings called tertulia, where poetry, music, and dance went hand-in-hand with food and conversation. Sally Pinkas offers iconic examples, including the Recuerdos de Capiz by Julio Nakpil (track 5) and Dolores Paterno’s La Sampaguita (track 4). These she plays with just the right kind of tipsy rubato and smiling sense of place that make them so delicious.

With the Treaty of Paris, the Philippines were ceded to the United States, and new music schools and professional orchestras came into the picture. One of the composers schooled at the Philippines Conservatory was Francisco Santiago. Pinkas’s performance of his E-flat minor Nocturne is so touching, you’ll want to back up and hear it again (track 12).

There are waltzes here, too, and miniatures bursting with civic pride. It’s a treasure trove of completely unknown music, made to sound as if it’s been here all along.

By the way, this album was recorded right here at WCRB’s Fraser Performance Studio with producer/engineer Antonio Oliart Ros.

For more information and to listen to tracks, visit MSR's online store.

To purchase this album, visit ArkivMusic.