The second cycle of the Feel the Magic project that is generously sponsored by Arts Council Malta kicked off on 2 March, 2022.
Feel the Magic of Contemporary Clarinet and Piano paired two very fine Italian musicians Antonello Timpani (clarinet) and Antonio D’ Antó (piano) who have met with great critical acclaim every time they have performed together. And the Gozo experience was no exception!
The haunting sounds of virtuosic runs on the clarinet coupled with the lyrical strains contrasting block chords with the mystical cantabile quality of the piano writing provided a fresh sonic experience for the highly appreciative audience that filled Saint Augustine’s Church, well known for its excellent acoustics due to its unique vaulting. After an introduction by Dr John Galea, the eclectic offering of the programme gave ample evidence of an insightfully infused emotion within the parameters of contemporary music aesthetics displayed by the formidable Italian musicians.
The evening featured 20th-century and contemporary works for the clarinet and piano medium. The first presentation on the varied programme featured the pianist Antonio d’Antó as a composer. His Sonata (Homage to Brahms) for Clarinet and Pianoforte exuded a gently retrospective flavour that was spiced up with contemporary harmonies. One could easily note the classical structure and the austere handling of sonata form within the architectural properties of the composer’s idiom. The clarinet writing was florid and yet sober, qualities that were deftly interpreted immaculately by Antonello Timpani. The second offering on the programme was the work of an Italian composer Anthony Camilleri. Heat Transfer is a terrific work cast in three movements that explores the complexities of clarinet writing in the contemporary idiom, where Timpani sailed through gallantly with a very solid support coming from the accompanist.
Another work by Antonio d’Antó – Theme of Friendship was presented to the highly receptive audience. The performance of this work was preceded by a moving address by the composer himself, who dedicated this Gozo premiere of this work to the audience and in particular to Dr John Galea, the artistic Director of Feel the Magic. This solo piano work is well-written, thoughtful and entertaining; featuring some quietly compelling properties; it is elegantly shaped and pleasingly tonal, though never banal!
The clarinettist Antonello Timpani is known for his performances of twentieth-century music and he regaled the audience with our own John Galea’s twelve movement work for clarinet solo – Menok I Xrat, built around the twelve zodiac signs. The performance of this contemporary Galea work fitted the great ambience of the vaulted church and was appreciated immensely by the audience as it presented extended techniques that were excellently transmitted, providing a carpet of eclectic sounds and rhythms that feature prominently in contemporary clarinet works. Both the performer and composer were given a very warm applause by those present.
Salvatore Schembari’s Fantasia on Tosca (Puccini) and Donato’s Lovreglio’s Fantasia on La Traviata (Verdi) provided a very welcome display of instrumental pyrotechnics by Timpani that leaned on a very accurate synchronisation with the pianistic writing.
The supreme and fine quality of this duo’s performance met with great acclaim and a standing ovation was regaled by the audience as a gesture of appreciation. All those present were impressed by the artful blending of tones and rapport throughout the concert by Professors Antonello Timpani and Antonio D’Antó.
Chorus Urbanus Productions are very grateful to the Investment in Cultural Organisations – Gozo scheme within Arts Council Malta and the Ministry for Gozo as its major sponsor of the Feel the Magic project amongst other sponsors and patrons. Special thanks also go to the Augustine Priory for the logistical support.