'Diva 2 Diva' enlivened by combined musical vigor

By Ronald G. Mangubat, Inquirer News Service, Dec. 12, 2003

THE GLOSSY leaflet of their CD reads: "Two singular careers that could never have happened without you. And one magnificent concert that would never have taken place without your support. Now, we give you the album. Enjoy the music." For sentimental ballad lovers, this is an album which delights, relaxes and awakens romantic yearnings.

Kuh Ledesma and Zsa Zsa Padilla, longtime rivals on the local pop music scene, are at their sizzling best in this album -- a studio recording of the highlights of their "Diva 2 Diva" concert staged at the PICC early this year.

Had they produced this album 10 years ago, there might have been a deliberate attempt to upstage each other.

But now that they've matured and have become confident about their respective places in the local entertainment world, their duets reflect this serene and sanguine attitude, and explode in a harmonious blend of bright musical colors.

Truly, this is a synergistic collaboration between two equally talented artists who want to make beautiful music together. The result scintillates in combined musical vigor.

There are four long medleys and four full songs in this album, with musical and vocal arrangements by Louie Ocampo, Homer Flores, Babsie Molina, Rey Cristobal and Egay Gonzalez.

The first cut, "Only Hope," sung by Mandy Moore in her movie "A Walk to Remember," is a haunting ballad about a woman's undying love and dependence on her lover.

This is followed by a classic medley, Bacharach's "One Less Bell/A House Is Not a Home," songs which evoke philosophical questions about love and loss.

On the other hand, fans of the musical, "Chess," will certainly wax nostalgic when they hear the popular "I Know Him So Well," the album's third cut, sung with just the right emotion by the two glamorous divas.

"Tell Him," Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion's popular duet, expresses the importance of verbally communicating and fighting for one's feelings for a loved one. Their version is less bombastic than the original, but is powerful, nonetheless.

Our favorite is the Legrand medley, featuring "Windmills of Your Mind," "The Summer Knows, "A Piece of Sky" and "Where Do I Begin?" The arrangement is unique, and Ledesma and Padilla's voices soar.

A unique treat of the album is "Divas Medley," a collection of four of their famous hits, with Ledesma singing Padilla's "Ikaw Lamang" and "Kahit Na," and Padilla rendering Kuh's "Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan?" and "Dito Ba?"

At some point during the medley, it is quite hard to distinguish who is singing which song because both singers have relatively low voices and share almost the same vocal range. It is only through Padilla's occasional famous lilt (a "vocal affectation," as jazz singer Patti Austin calls it) that distinguishes her from Ledesma.

The album's last cut, David Foster and Carole Bayer's "The Prayer," seems to be a fitting tribute to both singers' colorful lives and spiritual search. Their rendition mirrors their solemn quest for the Divine.

Through the years, Ledesma has collaborated with other female artists like Regine Velasquez, Jaya and Pops Fernandez, but she finally found her singing soulmate in Padilla.