three pieces is a work for orchestra and pre-recorded sounds. It developed out of a larger work kimika written for banda, a Maltese traditional ensemble featuring wind, brass, and percussion instruments. Commissioned for the 12th May Symphonic Band, kimika drew inspiration from the crafting of fireworks — the chemicals used, the colours produced, the slow grinding processes of mixing materials and the power of flight in burning. The audio recordings from the first banda performance were electronically manipulated and transformed into tracks to accompany the textures and timbre of the newer orchestral work.
Originally written for a string quartet, the composer always believed that the work could be re-orchestrated and expanded to string orchestra. The long sustained notes on the strings in the opening section give a sense of a spastic atmosphere, giving rise to an almost ethereal sensation. The initial musical material continues developing and shaping itself into quicker and lighter tempo against different rhythms which create a sense of an uneven tactus. This faster section paves the way to a smoother slow section, recalling the initial opening mode. The solo violin at the end gives way to a close defined ending, gradually decreasing in volume into nothingness.
Mesogeios (ancient Greek term for Mediterranean) blends the composer’s typical style of contrasting meditative and rhythmic moments with motifs and ideas from around the Mediterranean basin, which the composer mostly collected while attending a conference in Egypt back in 1996. Scored for string orchestra and a wide array of percussion and traditional instruments, this work is divided into five short interconnected movements. The contemplative opening features the Żummara which leads into the contrasting rhythmic second movement with its floridly ornamented melodies. The central third movement introduces the Żaqq set against complex clapped rhythms, a clear reference to African tribal clapping and Spanish flamenco palmas. The ensuing fourth movement features solo string instruments setting the mood with bird-like calls for a Flejguta solo while the fifth movement rounds up the work in an appropriately exuberant manner, making good use of North-African and Greek melodies.
Fine Line was partly influenced by Arthur Golden’s novel Memoirs of a Geisha and the captivating atmosphere it portrays. The initial vibraphone theme permeates the work. The employment of dissonance at times creates a sense of uncertainty, as does the suspended finish, characterised by sustained strings. Fine Line was premiered by The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, conducted by Derek Clark at the Bute Hall, Glasgow in September 2009 as part of the Glasgow West End Festival. The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra performed the Malta premiere during the President’s New Year’s Concert at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in 2013, conducted by Michael Laus.
Riħ (Wind) is taken from Sinfonija Beltija / A Valletta Symphony (2016) which marks the culmination of years of research into Valletta, its communities, and their narratives. This five-movement work brings together a wide range of elements from festas to football, and from history to contemporary attitudes. These interludes form the introduction to these movements and serve as moments of reflection before each movement.
The wind represents the natural elements that interact daily with the city. The five interludes are cyclical in nature, representing both a daily and a seasonal cycle. These natural cycles contrast with the more aperiodic nature of human activity. These interludes are scored for chamber orchestra.
Xamm (Scent) was commissioned by Moveo Dance Company. It is part of a larger work written for a dance show inspired by Patrick Suskind’s novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer and premiered in 2019 at Teatru Manoel, Valletta. Although the full work was composed for string quartet and electronics, this version of Xamm is an arrangement for orchestra. The piece consists mainly of two contrasting themes. The first opens and ends the work in a tense and anxious atmosphere. The contrasting second theme is heard in the middle of the piece and is more lyrical and haunting in character. The music’s inclination towards the instinctive and the emotive reflects the power of the sense of smell which, as long as a person breathes, is impossible to disregard.
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