‘Walkabout’ is a kind of rite that Australian aboriginal males do in order to reach maturity. They go out in the wilderness for days and sing songlines which lead them over the miles. Equinox Trio will be taking you through a series of Australian and Maltese compositions on Friday 4 May, 8pm at St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Valletta.
The programme opens with Dream Tracks. Since 1988 Peter Sculthorpe wrote a series of works inspired by Kakadu National Park, in the north of Australia. Some of these works have melodic material in common, the contours of each line usually being transformed in some way, both within pieces and in successive pieces. Sculthorpe has come to regard these melodies as ‘songlines’ or ‘dreaming tracks’. These are names used to describe the labyrinth of invisible pathways that, according to Aboriginal belief, are created by the totemic ancestors of all species as they sing the world into existence. Dream Tracks, then, sets out to summon up the spirit of a northern Australian landscape. This work is in four sections: Lontano; Molto sostenuto; Lontano; Estatico. The first section takes as its point of departure the contours of a Torres Strait Island children’s song. This serves as an introduction to the second section, which is based upon an Arnhem Land Chant, Djilile, or ‘whistling-duck on a billabong’. The third section is an extension of the first, its melodic contours also appearing in the fourth section. In this final section, however, Djilile is ever-present, both in a much-transformed guise and in its original form.
The second trio on the programme is Trio ‘New York’ by Charles Camilleri. In 1971, Camilleri embarked on a series of chamber works which include the Piano Trio, String Quartet No 1, the Violin Sonatas and the Trio for clarinet, violin and piano which was left unfinished. The composer recalls how during a visit to New York in 1998, the energy and hustle and bustle of the City reminded him of the Trio which was eventually brought back to life. The first movement is full of energy and motoric figures. Cadenzas are distributed between the instruments to bring the movement to a thrilling finale. The slow movement evokes the ethnic elements of the city and includes sliding notes on the violin which create a jazzy effect. The third movement is based on the ‘atomisation of the beat’ technique and has a unique flavour of improvisation.
Four Miniatures by Richard Mills brings the first half of the programme to an end. The opening gestures of this work contain all the elements of harmony and melody which form the textures of the later movements. Movements I and III are relatively darker in colour than their counterparts and the formative gestures of the first miniature recur as a refrain in Miniature IV, whose more direct harmonies place them in a new context. Miniature II is toccata-like, Miniature III is an extended development of the material from Miniature I, the opening chord of which forms the climax point of Miniature III in an extended articulation across the range of the keyboard. Miniature IV is scherzando in quality and the piece concludes with a witty transformation of the opening gesture, ending with a wry comment from the piano.
Etnika Suite by Ruben Zahra was originally composed for the Etnika project concerning the revival of Maltese traditional instruments. The original instrumentation of these pieces within the Etnika project in 2000 was flute, clarinet, violin, guitar, accordion, piano, tuba and percussion. The music has been since arranged for various formations and ensembles and shall be premiered in this new version by the Equinox Trio. In the first movement; Ħarba, the melodic phrases on the violin are accompanied by mischievous ostinato patterns on piano and clarinet. The music also resolves on strong syncopated rhythmic passages that contrast with the cantabile melodic sections. Grinta is based on an Arabic mode and as a result yields melodic references to the Arabesque. The bold introduction of the piece is soon contrasted by a delicate pizzicato / staccato passage where the melody becomes almost transparent against the ‘pointillistic’ background. Logħba features a rhythm phrase derived from a Maltese traditional nursery rhyme “Ara Ġejja l-Mewt Għalik”. The music portrays a lively character with syncopated jolting rhythms reminiscent of Balkan gypsy music. The first section of Ragħaj evokes a country dance with a pastoral melody on violin and clarinet accompanied by arpeggios on the piano. The music unexpectedly changes to an upbeat, hard-driven rhythmic middle section which resolves in a violin solo carrying the music back to the pastoral theme.
Rive by Australian composer Douglas Knehans will bring this exciting performance to an end. ‘rive’ literally means a ripping or tearing apart. When the Verdehr Trio visited Tasmania in 2001 they were taken with the severity of such primal ripping and tearing as expressed in the feeding habits of the Tasmanian Devil. Douglas Knehans and the Verdehrs had toyed with the idea of a piece about this and what it distilled to the composer’s mind was a structural approach to musical material, which was based on such muscular dismemberment of materials. In his approach to this work the whole of it is formed from a dramatic disaggregation of the materials unfolded in the opening 10 or so measures. All of this material is recycled, recombined, reharmonised, and variously reconfigured such that it morphs from one idea to the next while always relating back to the central initial ideas. This holds true also of the broader formal harmonic structure, which reflects the same harmonic underpinnings of the initial closural arc of the first large phrase group. This work represents somewhat of a departure from previous works of Knehans in its immediacy of expression and clarity, even its traditionalism in many ways.
Equinox Trio specialises in the performance of 20th century and contemporary classical music. The trio features clarinettist Lino Pirotta, violinist Tatjana Chircop and pianist Tricia Dawn Williams. Over the past four years they have performed both in Malta and abroad premiering various works by American, Armenian, Australian, Chinese, French, German, Turkish and Maltese composers. In September 2009, Equinox Trio was invited by the Embassy of Malta in France to give a recital of contemporary classical music at Le Musée des Invalides to commemorate the 45th Independence Anniversary in Paris. They are also very active in the local contemporary music scene. In 2011 they have been invited to participate in the 5th edition of the International Spring Festival organised by Paris based Maltese composer Karl Fiorini and the Malta Association for Contemporary Music to perform for the ‘Contemporary Sounds’ music series featuring an interdisciplinary event combining fashion with contemporary music. They also performed during the International Festival of the Arts which took place in June 2011.
This recital is supported by the Australian High Commission in Malta. Tickets at €10 can be bought from St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity in Valletta. Call on 2122 3200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or book online: www.sjcav.org.
Leave a comment