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Charles CAMILLERI (b.1931)
Four Greek Dances (1950s)
Dirge 11.09.01 (2001)
Duo Sonata (1998)
Divertimento No.2 (1957)
Shomyo
Three Folk Songs from Malta (1971)
Trio No.2a
David Campbell (clarinet, bass clarinet); Zoë Martlew (cello)a; Julian Jacobson (piano)
Recorded: no information, published 2003
MERIDIAN CDE 844 70 [68:13]

Charles Camilleri is a versatile and prolific composer whose huge and varied output ranges from short didactic pieces to large-scale choral, orchestral and organ works. He was quite prolific in his late teens when he composed a huge amount of short piano sonatinas (many of them are available on Olympia OCD 478 and OCD 465 superlatively played by Murray McLachlan) as well as other works such as the Four Greek Dances for clarinet and piano heard here. This and the Three Maltese Folk Songs are simple, attractive miniatures in folk-like idiom, much in the same vein as Bartokís lighter pieces. Originally written for piano in the 1950s, Three Folk Songs from Malta were reworked in 1971 for violin and piano (as heard in ASV CD DCA 1040) and for clarinet and piano as heard here. Divertimento No.2, originally composed in 1957, was later somewhat enlarged at Jack Brymerís request. In this delightfully extrovert piece, Camilleri turns to jazz rather than to his Mediterranean background which imbues so much of his output.

I have recently reviewed a recording of the original version of the Duo Sonata written in 1998 for Jan Guns (on Phaedra 92020). In 2000, Camilleri arranged (or rather considerably rewrote) the vibraphone part so that the work may now be performed as a duo for bass clarinet and piano. Both versions work remarkably well, though each has its own sound qualities. A most welcome addition to the repertoire for bass clarinet.

The short, deeply moving Dirge 11.09.01 does not call for any particular comments. The music makes its point in clear, direct terms, with remarkable restraint, which makes it the more poignant.

 

Shomyo for a solo wind instrument (flute, oboe or clarinet) is a short ritualistic meditation appropriately based on a pentatonic scale.

By far, the most substantial work here is the Trio No.2 for clarinet, cello and piano, in four concise movements of which the third one is the most developed and the most complex. The music inhabits an altogether more astringent harmonic world than any of the other works heard here, with more angular tunes and mild dissonance, though it is generously communicative, as is so much of Camilleriís music. (Incidentally, the Trio No.1 "New York" for clarinet, violin and piano, is available on Meridianís earlier all-Camilleri release CDE 84407 which I have not heard so far.)

This attractive and varied selection of clarinet works by Camilleri is superbly well served both by the performers and the recording. All these pieces make for a quite enjoyable disc that will, no doubt, appeal to Camilleriís admirers whereas others, I am sure, will find much to enjoy. I for one relished it from start to finish.

Hubert Culot



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