Emerging artists hold their own
Albert Storace reviews two performances by some of Malta’s up-and-coming musicians.
Two duo recitals held last month over a whole weekend at St James’s Cavalier Music Room were very much in line with one of the aims of the Malta Arts Festival – offering support and encouragement to talented Maltese musicians.
On the Saturday it was Jean-Noël Attard (violin) with pianist Joanne Camilleri, while on the Sunday it was Philip Attard (alto saxophone) with pianist Christine Zerafa (who together form the Batera Duo).
I was familiar with performances by all four of them separately but I had never heard them in respective duos. They are all very talented musicians, each one in his/her own right, but what I noticed too was how well-balanced each duo is and how easily one felt their enthusiasm in projecting the music they performed.
Jean-Noël Attard started off with an overall very creditable performance of J.S. Bach’s famous Chaconne which he played by sight. Joanne Camilleri projected all the enchanting qualities of Charles Camilleri’s Due Canti. In between these two solos, the performers were like live-wires packed with an irresistible energy in Brahms’s Sonatensatz.
When they launched in what was probably the first local performance of Lutosławski’s Partita they smoothly moved along a very different and not unattractive idiomatic path. They showed further versatility when they produced a highly accomplished rendering of Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango.
The first work performed by the duo, together with guest artist, saxophonist Joseph Vella, was an arrangement by Jean-Marie Londeix of a Sonata in C Major by Leclair. Apart from the verve with which they performed the work, this provided added interest and an ‘anachronistic’ opportunity to hear Baroque music performed by instruments invented much later. Monniot’s jazzy Duos for Saxophones in E flat was a refreshing exercise in diversity of style which was carried off very well.
Batera Duo too came across as a really well-prepared formation and made a fine impression from the start with Paule Maurice’s colourful Tableaux de Provence, which requires a lot of virtuoso playing for both musicians.
They also included a local composer’s work, Ruben Zahra’s highly compact Crimson Sunrise. It came across as a lively, colourful and provocative work with a mix of simple melodic phrases pitted against complicated, rhythmic patterns and sudden changes of tempo.