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Living and working in Paris, contemporary composer Karl Fiorini was born in Malta in 1979. With humility, eclecticism and a keen sense of harmony, Fiorini’s music retains the attention of the listener, often taking challenging and unexpected twists and turns, but retaining cogency and coherency.

Karl Fiorini’s Concerto for violin and chamber orchestra is curious and intriguing as Fiorini expands, augments and even distorts the sound of the orchestra. With a percussive opening, eclectic passages and neo-romantic tones, this is pure and fearless in its sprawling expressiveness and recalls the works of Shostakovich and Bartók. Portuguese violinist Emanuel Salvador is capable enough to realise Fiorini’s imagined sound-world. This certainly comes to life as Salvador battles against the stormy double-basses and explosive percussion in the third movement ( quarter note = 126 ). Each note is coloured with intense feeling and embedded in a quilt of varied orchestral timbres. This is most evident in the interplay of pizzicato and percussion towards the latter half of the third movement. Altogether more estranged, yet eerily lyrical; the opening to the fourth movement ( Chorale, Canone & Passacaglia ) contains elements of suspense, heightened by Salvador’s musky and sometimes pungent tone. As if standing to attention at the sound of the horn in the fifth movement ( Finale ), the orchestra disbands its otherworldly sound and morphs into a panic-stricken crowd, jostling and colliding. All is then calmed by a klezmer-accented clarinet solo, accompanied by the strings and then echoed by the violin.

Starting slowly then blossoming into a natural wilderness, soloist Marta Magdalena Lelek’s sound is virile and breathtakingly intense as she drives Fiorini’s Schubert-Brahms style neo-romanticism into something altogether more bold and complex. In this spellbinding concerto, orchestra and conductor are attentive to the convoluted amalgamation of angst and mystery. Technically exceptional, Lelek creates both glassy and gritty sounds to evoke the peculiarity and tension evidenced by Fiorini’s composition.

In these virtuosic pieces the two soloists have precise and apt intonation and courageous performing styles. These concertos require power and momentum as they alternate between dissonance and tonal progressions. The players embrace this coming together of different themes and musical ideas with endearing sass and electrifying pyrotechnics.

—Lucy Jeffery