Camilleri: Violin Sonata No. 1; Fantasia concertante No. 4; The Edge of Silence; Three Maltese Folksongs; Fantaisie-Bolero

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Camilleri
LABELS: ASV
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1; Fantasia concertante No. 4; The Edge of Silence; Three Maltese Folksongs; Fantaisie-Bolero
PERFORMER: Susanne Stanzeleit (violin) Sophia Rahman (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 1040
Charles Camilleri (b1931), elder statesman of Maltese music, has always been a composer fascinated by contradictions and opposites, a Mediterranean man of paradox drawn no less to violet melody than violent conflict, ever seeking spiritual order out of terrestrial chaos. Atmosphere, mood and ethos matter to him. ‘The Greeks knew about such things,’ he reminds us. ‘The Orientals do today. The Europeans don’t.’

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Following up its powerful earlier release of the Organ Concerto, Missa mundi and First Clarinet Concertino, ASV’s retrospect of the fiddle music ranges across 50 years – from the aphoristic Sonatina No. 1 of 1947 (with its compulsively droned, exotic slow movement) to the hypnotic Frankfurt Prayer of 1997. It contains irresistibly simple folk cantillations à la Bartók (Maltese, Icelandic) alongside emotionally guttural Moorish/Sephardic memories of Ravel (in the disc’s opening Fantaisie-Bolero, 1961) colliding with advanced, stylistically independent studies in rhythm, pitch and ritual complexly interwoven (Sonata No. 1, The Edge of Silence, Fantasia concertante No. 4 for solo violin). Benefiting from playing of persuasive musicality – Susanne Stanzeleit is an imaginative advocate of striking tone and resource – the trichotomy gels surprisingly well.

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The production, though, is not of the cleanest sonically, with a balance that has the violin resonant and comparatively distant against a forward, dryish piano. A shame. Ates Orga