This second set of Philippine folk songs and kundimans continues the trend set by the first volume: breadth, depth, and variety. We can now also add versatility to the mix, as some of the pieces can be classified as both folk and art music.
Many of the pieces reflect the many facets of love. Hindi Kita Malimot speaks of undying love, while Dahil Sa Iyo describes how love can make one strong, good, and whole. Lost love and unrequited love are represented by Nasaan Ka Irog, Usahay, Anak Ng Dalita, and Babalik Ka Rin. Nasaan Ka Irog speaks of a doomed love affair. In Anak ng Dalita, being unloved is equivalent to being poor, yet there is a glimmer of hope if one gets noticed by the object of his/her affection. An almost defiant declaration that love will return is the mantra of Babalik Ka Rin, while dreams and despair abound in Usahay.
Included here is an instrumental work written by one of the country’s most famous songwriters. The Cavatina, originally written for violin and piano in 1921, is one of Abelardo’s most famous pieces, and it is the only work here that sounds Filipino and yet does NOT sound Filipino. At this stage in his career, Abelardo was absorbing the idioms of the late Romantic masters and it is evident in the compositions that come from this period. It is a highly skilled composition in the art music tradition and yet accurately and deeply portrays the Filipino soul.
The folk tradition is represented by four songs. Ti Ayat Ti Meysa Nga Ubing, which humorously – and pointedly – admonishes old men to stop looking for love among the young ones, hails from the Ilocos region. The Visayas is represented by Walay Angay, a lament about being abandoned and how one is never meant to be lonely, while Kundiman 1800 is an early 19th-century Tagalog folk tune - also known as Jocelyna ng Baliwag - about a young maiden who is the image of Love personified. The last representative is Lulay, a Tagalog song about a woman who is the paragon of virtue whom her suitors find hard to win and please. In this case, the song serves as the theme to a wonderful set of variations originally composed for guitar by Bayani Mendoza de Leon. Mr. de Leon wrote this piece initially in the 1970s, and I wanted to use that version for this recording. Some pages of the manuscript were lost, however, and Mr. de Leon graciously wrote additional variations to complement the existing ones. The result is a bravura piece that should easily have a place in the standard repertoire.
- Dr. Angelo L. Favis