We digress from Portuguese music reviews this week to consider a remarkable work in record production involving a Portuguese artist. This is the album with concertos for violin and orchestra by the Maltese composer Karl Fiorini, born in 1979, with soloists Emanuel Salvador and the Polish violinist Marta Magdalena Lelek. The conductor Bartosz Zurakowski directs the Polish Sudeten Philharmonic orchestra.
The composer Fiorini, still very young, amazes us, first, by the extraordinary quality of his music; The Concerto for violin and chamber orchestra of 2007 is a small masterpiece in 24 minutes. Divided into five movements, ” Prelude , lento , tempo=126 , Canone-Passacaglia-Chorale and Finale “, departs from the common post- serial pastiches without directly sticking to any ‘pigeonhole’. Fiorini speaks with his own language, which is not short of passion and lyricism, particularly in the fourth movement, and at the same time, demonstrates vigor and pace. The work explores the contrasts between the bass and treble extremes, in which there is a remarkable clarinet solo, utilising Slavic folk themes, played eventually in dialogue with the violin of Emanuel Salvador. Fiorini embodies in a natural way the position of European music in the world, and produces a profound synthesis of European music that is reminiscent of the sound of Bartók and the vital pulse of Stravinsky.
The violin is not here a mere instrument of free virtuosity, despite the extraordinary interpretive power of Salvador. The concerto for violin and chamber orchestra is a puzzle where the violin has an outstanding role, of course, but its inclusion follows a rhetorical logic; the work is not a mere pretext for the crystalline brilliance and lyricism of Emanuel Salvador but an intelligent edifice, a kind of poem in which the dense timbre and soul of Salvador confer an element that links the different forces at play. The discretion and intelligence of the violinist are fully placed at the service of the work, revealing a soloist with a great sound, and lyrical beauty.
The second Concerto for violin, composed in 2012, is a darker work, most influenced by European late- romanticism. Huge anxiety pervades the first section, followed by a dense palpitation, dark tormented dance rhythms, always on a dense sound base where the violin shines in the construction of a sound based on the severe and extreme and there is also a total logic in the development of the work. The interpretation of the Polish soloist Marta Magdalena Lelek with a sound less intense than Emanuel Salvador is not as incisive from a rhythmic point of view, but she manages moments of great lyricism, a beautiful sound and a certain Slavic melancholy. This concerto utilizes a large orchestral force and in its concentration, loses the incisiveness of brevity, gaining weight and symphonic nature in its thematic diversity which forces the listener to a higher concentration.
The direction of Zurakowski , who worked with the composer on these interpretations, is mostly focused on the most dynamic points, but what is surprising is the lyricism, the passion that this music conveys. It reveals a great direction and cohesion and a beautiful sound balance captured by engineer Grzegorz Stec . The orchestra demonstrates a beautiful quality in tutti and reveals excellent soloists.
An extremely good CD by any standard. (Awarded five stars)