149TheMalteseComposer

Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2008 by Fred Flaxman

Program 149
"The Maltese Composer"


MUSIC:
Camilleri: Malta Suite: Village Festa opening performed by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Brian Schembri [Divine Art Diversions ddv24126, track 18] [under the following]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

It is rare for me to present music by living composers on this program. There is a very simple explanation for this. I can’t stand most of it. My musical tastes are very conservative. I love a good melody above all, followed by conventional harmonies with a dash of exciting rhythms. And that’s what you’ll hear if you stay with me for the next hour.

Nevertheless, the next 60 minutes will be devoted to a contemporary composer. One from Malta of all places. His name is Charles Camilleri and he has written a great deal of modern music that I frankly don’t care for. On the other hand he has composed more than an hour of tuneful, Maltese folk-inspired works which are pure fun to listen to. You’ll soon hear as much of it as I can fit in the time allotted.

MUSIC: fades out

I’ll tell you more about Charles Camilleri later on, but first let’s get to his music. I’ll start almost where he started -- with his four-movement Malta Suite. It was composed in 1946 when the composer was only 15. The British critic Christopher Palmer wrote of this piece that it “demands little from the listener but gives much in return.” Palmer called it rich, brightly colored and robustly romantic, and I’m sure you’ll agree. Its four movements are marked Country Dance, Waltz, Nocturne and Village Festa.

We hear it as performed by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Brian Schembri on a Divine Art Diversions recording issued in the United Kingdom in 2008.

MUSIC:
Camilleri: Malta Suite performed by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Brian Schembri [Divine Art Diversions ddv24126, tracks 15-18]


The Malta Suite by Maltese composer Charles Camilleri. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Brian Schembri.

Camilleri was born in 1931 in Hamrun, Malta. As a teenager he composed several pieces based on folk music and legends of his native island. These include the Malta Suite, Maltese Dances, A Maltese Overture, operas in Maltese, a ballet based on the knights of Malta, and an oratorio.

Now Camilleri is recognized as one of the major composers of his generation, although he has moved from the early influences of Maltese folk music to a more international modern musical form -- a style which I don’t personally appreciate, as I mentioned earlier. In any case, he has composed over one hundred works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, voice and solo instruments, and his music has been performed throughout the world.

From 1960 until 1962 Camilleri had a regular radio program on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto. At that time he worked closely with the CBC orchestra, which he conducted, establishing a rapport with its musicians. He composed four short concertinos for them. We’ll listen to the last of these now, subtitled Summer Nights in Malta. The first and third movements of this piece sparkle with rhythm. The middle movement is taken from Camilleri’s earlier folk-inspired piano-solo work, also called Summer Nights in Malta.

The concertino was revised in 1998 and re-written for two pianos and orchestra. A new melody was added to the final movement at that time.

Once again we hear the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Brian Schembri. The piano soloists are Jennifer Micallef and Glen Inanga.

MUSIC: Camilleri: Concertino No. 4 (“Summer Nights in Malta”) performed by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Brian Schembri with piano soloists Jennifer Micallef and Glen Inanga [Divine Art Diversions ddv24126, tracks 6-8]


Charles Camilleri’s Concertino No. 4: Summer Nights in Malta for two pianos and orchestra. The pianists were Jennifer Micallef and Glen Inanga. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Brian Schembri.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman, and this hour is devoted to “The Maltese Composer.”

[optional one-minute break not included in total timing]


Maltese history abounds with legends -- some true, others less so. The Four Legends by Charles Camilleri get their titles from such stories: The Folk Singer from Birguma, The Watch-maker from Gozo, The Bride of Mosta, and the Grand Polka March. The best known of these tales is that of the Bride of Mosta. It is about a bride who was supposedly snatched away by pirates on her wedding day.

MUSIC: Camilleri: Four Legends performed by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Brian Schembri [Divine Art Diversions ddv24126, tracks 9-12]

Four Legends by Charles Camilleri, “The Maltese Composer.” Brian Schembri conducted the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra on this Divine Art Diversions CD, imported from the U.K.

A few years ago a professor at the University of Malta discovered some manuscripts in a library in Oxford, England. They turned out to be the actual music used by the ancient Knights of Malta. These manuscripts were passed on to Camilleri, who incorporated the music in his Knights of Malta Ballet.

There is no real story-line to the ballet, just a picture in dance and music of the lifestyle that the knights enjoyed while they were stationed in Malta. The five movements reflect courtly music of the period. I don’t have time to play the entire suite for you, but I can squeeze in the first movement -- the “Overture.”

MUSIC: Camilleri: Overture from Knights of Malta Ballet Suite, performed by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Brian Schembri [Divine Art Diversions ddv24126, track 1]

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Brian Schembri performed the Overture from the Knights of Malta Ballet Suite by Charles Camilleri.

MUSIC: Camilleri: Malta Suite: Village Festa opening performed by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Brian Schembri [Divine Art Diversions ddv24126, track 18] [under the following]

And that brings this hour of Compact Discoveries to a close. I hope you enjoyed “The Maltese Composer.” If you missed any of this hour or would like to hear it again, go to www.compactdiscoveries.com on the internet where you’ll find links to stream most Compact Discoveries programs on demand without charge. Look for program number 149. At the web site you’ll also find scripts for every Compact Discoveries program with complete information on every selection.

My thanks to ArkivMusic.com for their help providing recordings for this program, to Simon Corley in Paris, France, for introducing me to the music of Charles Camilleri, and to you -- for listening.

MUSIC: fades out at 56:40

ANNOUNCER [Steve Jencks]: Compact Discoveries is a production of Compact Discoveries, Incorporated, a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization located at 36 Pickens Lane in Weaverville, North Carolina, and on the web at compactdiscoveries.com. These programs are distributed to public radio stations nationwide through PRX, the Public Radio Exchange.

Program Ends at 57:00


 
  ©2008 Compact Discoveries