Food for the soul at San An­ton

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - LIFESTYLE & CULTURE -

The scene was set in the Agatha Bar­bara Mu­sic Room at San An­ton Palace re­cently: two young mu­si­cians, Ginevra Costantin Ne­gri on the pi­ano and In­dro Bor­re­ani on the vi­olin were to en­ter­tain us that balmy evening. In very good English Ginevra in­formed the au­di­ence that since our Pres­i­dent could not stay through­out the con­cert they were go­ing to play the last piece on the pro­gramme, Pa­ganini’s Mosé Fan­ta­sia, first. And that was the start of an evening of ex­cel­lent mu­sic­mak­ing. Ginevra on the pi­ano and In­dra Bor­re­ani play­ing on a 2000 Domenico Fan­tini Vi­olin were like teenage ath­letes just about to hit peak form.

*** We all know that Italy has pro­duced daz­zling mu­si­cians and equally daz­zling com­posers and this was an evening spon­sored by the Ital­ian Embassy in Malta and Si­monds Far­sons Cisk plc. The pro­gramme was largely made up of Rossini and Pa­ganini com­po­si­tions and, ap­pro­pri­ately, be­ing spring, Beetho­van’s Sonata for vi­olin and pi­ano No 5 in F ma­jor – La Pri­mav­era, which set the tone for the evening.

Ginevra and In­dro who are both 17-year­sold matched their vir­tu­os­ity with their bouncy brio. I was pleased that they made me feel glad to have turned up to hear them, rather than sit at home and lis­ten to CDs or You tube.

That evening was like a smooth tourist coach trip through the spec­tac­u­lar land­scape of mostly Ital­ian mu­sic.

*** And so to In­dro who gave us a se­lec­tion from Pa­ganini’s Capricci. Pa­ganini was a su­per­star in his life­time (1792-1840). Dur­ing his per­for­mances he was the con­sum­mate show­man, able to per­form all sorts of stunts us­ing his vi­olin. His play­ing was out­ra­geously good. He could play com­plete works with just two strings on his vi­olin in­stead of four. Some­times he would even de­lib­er­ately snap some of the strings mid-per­for­mance – and still play the piece bril­liantly. In his time there were even sto­ries sug­gest­ing that the only way any­body could pos­si­bly play the vi­olin that well was if they had en­tered into a pact with the Devil. (Had he been a woman he would al­most cer­tainly have been ac­cused of be­ing a witch). When he died, the Church ini­tially re­fused to al­low Pa­ganini’s body to be buried on its land for this rea­son. Let us not for­got that over 100 years later, Arch­bishop Gonzi, too, in­ter­dicted those who read a Labour Party news­pa­per or in­deed, were as­so­ci­ated in any way with the Labour Party. They had

Post scrip­tum

In last week’s Diary I did not men­tion Lucy Pater­son who played an im­por­tant role in or­ga­niz­ing and com­pèring the po­etry evening at The Sale­sian Theatre, No­tions, Nostal­gia and Non­sense, so beau­ti­fully. I could not get her to send me a photo of her­self though you could just about see her and Marylu Cop­pini (no photo avail­able ei­ther) in the Fi­nale photo pub­lished last week.

I wasn’t sent a pho­to­graph of Paul Xuereb or An­drea Depasquale ei­ther. So here they.

Thank you for the po­etry. to get mar­ried in the sac­risty and were not buried on sa­cred ground. Yes, lest we for­get. No one would dare do that to­day. Face­book would be after their blood.

Pa­ganini was in no doubt about the ben­e­fits of be­ing seen as a show­man, say­ing: ‘I’m not hand­some, but when women hear me play, they come crawl­ing to my feet.’

*** Ginevra and In­dro, that evening, also played Rossini. This Ital­ian com­poser (1792-1868) wrote both comic and tragic op­eras to equal ac­claim. Il Bar­biere di Siviglia, Wil­liam Tell and La Gazza Ladra im­me­di­ately come to mind. He cre­ated new works very quickly, and it never seemed to take him longer than a few weeks to write an opera. At the height of his cre­ative pow­ers, he once said: ‘Give me a laun­dry list and I will set it to mu­sic,’ of such mag­ni­tude was his gift. That evening Ginevra played an ab­so­lutely de­light­ful pi­ano solo by Rossini: Un pe­tit train de plaisir. It de­scribes a train jour­ney made by the com­poser, start­ing with the bell an­nounc­ing the arrival of the train, get­ting aboard, the jour­ney, and the train whis­tle be­fore ar­riv­ing at a sta­tion where “Les Lions Parisiens of­frent la main aux Biches pour de­scen­dre du wagon.” The jour­ney con­tin­ues but is stopped with a ter­ri­ble derailment in which two peo­ple are mor­tally wounded, one go­ing to Par­adise and the other to Hell. A Fu­neral March is fol­lowed by a cheery dance from their heirs. ‘ Chant funèbre. Amen. Doleur aiguë des héri­tiers.’ The pi­anist very skill­fully re­cited the verses in French while in­ter­spers­ing them with the mu­sic. I loved its ironic tone.

*** It was ex­hil­a­rat­ing to watch these youngsters bring so much light and colour in the room. Their mu­si­cal gifts ap­pear al­most un­lim­ited. In­dro coaxed from his vi­olin mu­sic of in­tense re­fine­ment. Ginevra dis­played her tal­ent with great con­fi­dence.

To me it seems a pity that there are more pop­u­lar heroes in sport than in mu­sic.

That evening the au­di­ence should have been on its feet to salute these gifted and hard­work­ing teenagers. Both have won a num­ber of com­pe­ti­tions, played in sev­eral coun­tries and Ginevra is cur­rently record­ing her first CD.

After the con­cert I went to con­grat­u­late them and thank them. They are ob­vi­ously not let­ting their suc­cess go to their heads and seemed al­most sur­prised when I told them how im­pressed I was with their mu­sic­mak­ing and that they will get far. mbenoit@in­de­pen­

H.E. The Pres­i­dent smiles at mem­bers of the au­di­ence

Vi­olinst In­dro Bor­re­ani and his 2000 Domenico Fan­tini vi­olin

Ginevra play­ing Rossini

An­drea Depasquale

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