The Wire

A well-attested tradition of Atlantic culture sweeps down from the North Cape of Norway to Gibraltar, taking in Nordic and Celtic elements along the way and reaching out towards the pelagic islands and the Eastern seaboard of North America. At the lower limit of its reach, it makes contact with a Mediterranean culture that is neither landlocked nor subsumed by the various imperial hegemonies in that inland ocean; it’s various, and it includes composers as unalike as Tomasi, Ohana, even the undoctrinaire Skalkottas. For all his study in London and France, the Maltese born Karl Fiorini forms a younger branch of the tradition. His recent Violin Concerto No. 2 reflects something of the ripe, chromatic emotion of Alban Berg’s To The Memory Of An Angel but Fiorini’s eclecticism points to other sources, his cultural compass set on archaeological memory of ancient forms (including dance and imagery) which could be described as Etruscan/Carthaginian rather than Greek/Roman/Arab. But Fiorini owes much to a European training and there is a strong awareness in his earlier and smaller scale concerto, of Sibelius and Shostakovich. As with those older composers, solo instrument seems separated from the orchestra, isolated and dissociated even at moments of highest activity.

—Brian Morton