Fanfare

Composer Karl Fiorini was born on the island of Malta in 1979. He studied at the University of Malta as well as at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal College of Music in the United Kingdom. On this Métier Records release, we hear his First Concerto for Violin and Chamber Orchestra and the Violin Concerto No. 2, which he wrote for full-sized forces. The Sudecka Philharmonic Orchestra from Southwest Poland plays them under the leadership of Bartosz Zurakowski. Portuguese violinist Emanuel Salvador is the soloist for the First Concerto; Polish violinist Marta Magdalena Lelek plays the second. Both are among the best violinists in their respective countries and both play the pyrotechnics of these demanding works with consummate grace. Salvador’s rendition is more rhythmically incisive; Lelek’s more sensitive and lyrical. Both of Fiorini’s concertos are impressive, but they differ widely. Neither is traditional, but each has the power to move the listener with a beautifully interwoven tapestry of sound. In the First Concerto, composed in 2007, there are two short movements followed by three longer ones which contain the meat of the work. This composer gradually builds an intricate musical structure that conveys lyricism and passion. This piece has a mysterious quality and it contains unusual harmonies that seem to be unique to Fiorini. Here the soloist’s line weaves in and out of the orchestral fabric, always playing these novel harmonies. Sometimes they are powerful; sometimes delicate. Supported by the able Polish orchestra and Zurakowski’s lively conducting, Salvador has given us a rendition to cherish.

A mere two years ago, Fiorini finished his slightly more traditional and somewhat Romantic Second Concerto. It is full of angular dance rhythms often heard together with a dense sound base. As with the First Concerto, Fiorini builds his musical structure logically and systematically, but in this work, the mood is tragic and he uses much larger forces with more diverse themes. This 25-minute work is all on one track because the composer did not divide it into segments. The music has a driving force that never dissipates, and its contrasting sections flow naturally into each other accompanied by multiple changes of tempo. Beginning with the haunting lament that is her opening foray, soloist Marta Magdalena Lelek is always at the forefront. Sometimes she plays against a few instruments and at other times her sound combines with densely orchestrated passages. Although her rhythms are not as incisive as Salvador’s, her sound is elegant. She adds a quality of refinement to Fiorini’s music and she plays its fiery coda with panache. Fiorini is the artistic director of Malta’s International Spring Orchestra Festival, and the composer-in-residence at Portugal’s Orquestra do Norte. A new and important talent on the classical music scene, he has written challenging dissonant music that may take a few hearings to fully appreciate, but connoisseurs of new works will want to hear his fascinating concertos. Luckily for us Métier has recorded them in excellent sound that gives the listener the feeling of hearing them in an intimate concert hall.

—Maria Nockin