On a fine Sunday evening, November 14, pianist Ramona Zammit Formosa and flutist Silvio Zammit delighted audiences with a highly polished recital at the Ministry for Gozo’s Exhibition Hall. The appreciative audience that patronised this concert given by the popular husband and wife duo represented a varied choice from the romantic and post-romantic eras as well as music from the twentieth-century. It is always wonderful and encouraging to see young people among the audience at classical music concerts, but above all for the esteemed presence of international Soprano Claudia Sasso, who is currently giving Vocal Masterclasses as part of the Feel the Magic 2019-21.
Mr. Zammit began the recital with Chopin’s ‘Variations on a theme by Rossini’. The sheer number of rapid fingerwork in some of the variations sounded impressive especially when these are executed tastefully, and when secured by technically sound playing from both the flutist and the pianist. Chopin’s writing is at once technical, virtuosic, and lyrical.
Next on the duo’s offering was Claude Arrieu’s ‘Sonatine’– a charming work that regaled the audience with shimmers of virtuosity in the flute and piano parts. Ramona Zammit Formosa is surely at home in front of the keyboard and her playing exuded confidence and passion to complement Silvio Zammit’s poised buoyancy.
Chaminade’s ‘Concertino’ is a one-movement work cast in rondo form, where the central section expounded different performing techniques such as double tonguing and decorations that make the solo part much more difficult. Sporadic fast passages added to the excitement of the piece, where the sheer speed adopted by Mr Zammit met the constraints of the fiendishly tricky score.
The Zammit Duo then performed John Galea’s youthful work ‘Folk Song Variations’, which celebrates a ‘tema’ extracted from the village of Gharb in Gozo. This theme provided materials that are presented anew in the four variations that follow the introduction. The variations present a journey that, though basically tonal, explores a trajectory that is rich in harmonic colours with ever-changing rhythms that were performed with gusto by the duo. The third variation, explored a more experimental approach that was deftly mastered by the flutist. The concluding variation explored multiple cross-rhythms that unleashed a whirlwind virtuosic activity involving both the piano and flute in complete synchronisation.
The concert came to a conclusion by a performance of De Angelis’ ‘Sky Flowers,’ a velvety work that was written in the nineties. It makes use of luscious jazz harmonies set to the expressive qualities of the lovely soaring theme, through engagement with marked dynamics and a warm lyricism that provided further intensity to De Angelis’ harmonic language.
Applause was long and enthusiastic, especially as some of the performed works were given the Gozo premiere. After the concert, audience members shared their excitement with the performers. Enthusiasm and the tangible joy of attending public concerts after such a long lull was immediately evident. The duo regaled the audience with a very touching and expressive encore of Schubert’s Ave Maria. It was indeed Flute and Piano Magic!
Feel the Magic 2019-2021 is generously sponsored by Arts Council Malta, the Gozo Cultural Support Programme, Ministry for Gozo, and Michael Grech Financial.


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