The Goldberg Trio in Concert

5 NOVEMBER 2019 

Archaeology Museum, Valletta - 7:30pm



An offshoot of the vocal and instrumental group the Goldberg Ensemble, the Goldberg Trio comprises the unusual combination of violin, viola and piano. All three performers are members of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, with Marcelline Agius (Leader), Nadia Debono (Principal Viola) and Michael Laus (Resident Conductor) collaborating to present rare repertoire pieces originally composed for this combination, such as the Lachner Trio, together with new arrangements of popular pieces and contemporary works, such as the Ligeti pieces and the Camilleri Malta Suite.

Ignaz Lachner (1807-1895): Trio in B flat, Op. 37

i. Allegro moderato

ii. Andante con moto

iii. Scherzo: Allegro molto

iv. Finale: Allegro


Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975): Three Pieces

i. Præludium

ii. Gavotte

iii. Walzer


Györgyi Ligeti (1923-2006) (arranged by Michael Laus): 5 Pieces from Musica Ricercata 

i. Allegro molto capriccioso

ii. (no tempo indication)

iii. Vivace. Energico

iv. Tempo di Valse (poco vivace - “à l’orgue de Barbarie”

v. Allegro con spirit


Charles Camilleri (1931-2009) (arranged by Michael Laus): Malta Suite 

i. Country Dance: Allegro moderato

ii. Waltz

iii. Nocturne: Lento

iv. Village Festa: Allegro vivace

Programme Notes

Ignaz Lachner (1807-1895): Trio in B flat, Op. 37

i. Allegro moderato

ii. Andante con moto

iii. Scherzo: Allegro molto

iv. Finale: Allegro

This is the first of Ignaz Lachner’s “indispensible” trios for this little served combination. And “indispensible” was the word the famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann used to describe Lachner’s trios for violin, viola and piano. And indeed, they are among the best compositions ever written for this little used alternative to the standard piano trio. It is not known why Lachner chose to write all of his piano trios for this combination. It is thought that they were either commissioned over time by viola connoisseurs or that he simply liked the light sound created by the ensemble. In any case, it is fortuitous, for he greatly enriched the literature for this combination.


Ignaz Lachner was the second of the three famous Lachner brothers. (there were some 16

children in all) His older brother Franz was the best known, having heavily traded on his

youthful friendship with Franz Schubert, certainly more than Ignaz who also knew Schubert.

Ignaz was taught (as were the others) organ, piano and violin. Upon the latter instrument, he

was somewhat of a prodigy, but despite this, his father insisted he become a teacher. After

his father’s death, he studied violin with Bernhard Molique, a violin virtuoso and then joined his brother Franz in Vienna where he too befriended and was influenced by Schubert, not to mention Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Though primarily known as a conductor, Lachner composed a considerable amount of music, much of it chamber music.


The Op.37 Trio is a relatively youthful work and one can hear wonderful Schubertian melodies throughout. The opening movement Allegro moderato begins with a Beethovenian melody. The development in which the strings answer the piano in sequence is very original and striking. The second melody is a lovely Schubertian lied. The second movement opens

with a simple and naïve tune in the strings but almost immediately, and rather suddenly, the

music quickly changes into a wild syncopated dance. A muscular Scherzo follows, with the

lovely trio section providing a superb contrast. The finale begins in a rather elegant manner

with a syncopated melody. This is followed by a Mozartian melody which Lachner puts to

excellent use, quickly following it up with an elaboration of the first theme.

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975):  Three Pieces

i. Præludium

ii. Gavotte

iii. Walzer

Shostakovich achieved fame in the Soviet Union under the patronage of Soviet chief of staff Mikhail Tukhachevsky, but later had a complex and difficult relationship with the government. Nevertheless, he received accolades and state awards and served in the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR (1947) and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union (from 1962 until his death).


A polystylist, Shostakovich developed a hybrid voice, combining a variety of different musical techniques into his works. His music is characterized by sharp contrasts, elements of the grotesque, and ambivalent tonality; the composer was also heavily influenced by the neo-classical style pioneered by Igor Stravinsky, and (especially in his symphonies) by the late Romanticism of Gustav Mahler.


The Three Pieces were originally composed for two violins and piano, the first two being from Op. 98 (Five Pieces for Two Violins and Piano) and the third from Op. 97d, being an arrangement of themes from The Gadfly.

Györgyi Ligeti (1923-2006):  (arranged by Michael Laus): 5 Pieces from Musica Ricercata

i. Allegro molto capriccioso

ii. (no tempo indication)

iii. Vivace. Energico

iv. Tempo di Valse (poco vivace - “à l’orgue de Barbarie”

v. Allegro con spirit

Ligeti is the 20th century composer with the most cosmic connotations in popular

consciousness. That’s thanks to the way Stanley Kubrick used Ligeti’s music in his movies starting with 2001: A Space Odyssey. In 2001, and in The Shining, too, Ligeti’s music (along with Penderecki’s and Bartók’s) is the sound of the other, the alien, the supernatural: passages from the Requiem dramatise the images of 2001’s monolith – music of teeming, horrifying vastness and unearthly intensity - and Ligeti and the other modernists become the sounds of Jack Nicholson’s psychological dissemblage in The Shining.

Musica ricercata is a set of eleven pieces for piano by György Ligeti. The work was

composed from 1951 to 1953, shortly after the composer began lecturing at the Budapest

Academy of Music. Although the ricercata (or ricercar) is an established contrapuntal style,

Ligeti’s title should probably be interpreted literally as “researched music” or “sought music” This work captures the essence of Ligeti’s search to construct his own compositional style ex nihilo, and as such presages many of the more radical directions Ligeti would take in the future.


In response to a request by the Jeney Quintet, six of the movements were arranged for wind quintet as Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet (1953). Eight movements were transcribed for bayan by Parisian accordionist Max Bonnay. The arrangement for trio of five movements by Michael Laus will be receiving its first performance this evening.

Charles Camilleri (1931-2009)  (arranged by Michael Laus): Malta Suite

i. Country Dance: Allegro moderato

ii. Waltz

iii. Nocturne: Lento

iv. Village Festa: Allegro vivace

Charles Camilleri was born in Ħamrun, and as a teenager had already composed a number of works based on folk music and legends of his native Malta. He then gradually moved to a musical form in which nothing is fixed, and the compositions evolve with a sense of fluency and inevitability. His music has been performed throughout the world and his research of folk music and improvisation, the sounds of African and Asian music, and the academic study of European music helped him create a ‘universal’ style. The Malta Suite was composed in 1946 and remains a firm favourite with Maltese audiences, as it utilises well-known Maltese folk melodies in a symphonic medium, with colourful instrumentation and effective key changes.

Artist Bios

Marvic Monreal - Mezzo Soprano

Maltese mezzo-soprano Marvic Monreal was on the Young Artists Programme at the National Opera Studio in London. Marvic obtained her MA in Voice with distinction, following by the Opera Course from the Royal Academy of Music. Before starting her studies in London, she completed a degree in Tourism Studies at the University of Malta.


Marvic was a Georg Solti Accademia scholar in summer 2018. She spent the summer of 2017 in Salzburg participating in the Young Singers Project: she had her debut at the Salzburg Festival with the role of Pisana in I Due Foscari opposite Placido Domingo and tenor Joseph Calleja in the title roles. Recent performances include Joseph Calleja’s annual summer concert in Malta, where Marvic had the opportunity to share the stage with the tenor himself as well as Sir Bryn Terfel. She

was the soloist in Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, conducted by Semyon Bychkov at the Royal Festival Hall, and a soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Brian Schembri for Europe Day Concert. Marvic was a Jerwood Young Artist at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2016. 


For Royal Academy Opera, she has had the pleasure to perform Bradamante in Alcina,

Venus Orphée aux enfers, Mrs. Peachum in Die Dreigroschenoper, Minkswoman in Flight and Carmen in La tragédie de Carmen. She is most grateful to the BOV Joseph Calleja Foundation for their continuing support. Marvic is also a Fellow at Independent Opera.

Nicholas Mulroy - Tenor

Born in Liverpool, Nicholas was a chorister at the city’s Metropolitan Cathedral before studying Modern Languages at Cambridge and voice at the RAM. He has since been in constant demand both in the UK and further afield in a wide range of concert, recital and opera engagements. He has sung at many of the world’s great concert halls: the Sydney Opera House, Boston Symphony Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, Berlin Philharmonie and the Salzburg Festival.


Nicholas has particularly enjoyed prolonged collaborations with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and EBS, Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort, Lars-Ulrik Mortensen and Concerto Copenhagen, John Butt and the Dunedin Consort, Andrzej Kosendiak, Stephen Layton and Jordi Savall. He has also sung to critical acclaim with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, the OAE, the Brussels, Copenhagen, BBC, Wroclaw and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras, Melbourne Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia, and Britten Sinfonia. On the opera stage he has appeared at houses including Paris (Palais Garnier and Opéra Comique), Glyndebourne, Copenhagen’s Kongelige Teater, Opéra de Lille,

and the Grand Capitole in Toulouse.


A committed recitalist, he has appeared regularly at the Wigmore Hall singing a wide

range of repertoire including Purcell, both Bach Passions, Schubert, and the complete Britten Canticles. He has sung Janacek’s Diary of One who Vanished for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, for the Philharmonia at the RFH, and as part of the Aurora Janacek Festival, and given recitals at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, and festivals in Maribor, Ludlow, Bath and Orkney. He continues to collaborate with regular partners John Reid, Joseph Middleton, Alisdair Hogarth and lutenist Elizabeth Kenny.

Albert Buttigieg - Bass

Albert Buttigieg began his musical education at the Johann Strauss School of Music.

He also studied vocal technique at the school, as well as at the Opera Studio under Professoressa Dobreva and is presently is under the guidance of Ms Juliette Bisazza Zanni. He has recently obtained his LTCL in Voice performance.


Buttigieg is a regular soloist in recitals and concerts. His performance experience

ranges from baroque to contemporary, opera to song. Notwithstanding his varied experiences, sacred music strikes the chord closest to Albert’s heart with the most memorable being Bach’s St Matthew Passion, the Requiem masses of Haydn, Mozart, Verdi, Faure and Durufle as well as Handel’s Messiah. His Operatic roles include Timur in Turandot, Tobias Mill in Il Cambiale di Matrimonio, Ferrando in Il Trovatore, Monterone in Rigoletto and The Father in Hansel and Gretel.


He is an active member of the Valletta Baroque Ensemble (ViBE), with the most notable performance to date being the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610.

Marcelline Agius FLCM.

Since she was a child, Marcelline’s dream was always to become a violinst, and join the then

Manoel Theatre Orchestra. In fact, she did join the orchestra when she was only 17 years of



Marcelline continued to study in Malta, whilst attending Master Classes abroad. At the age of 26 she got the post of Leader of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO), a position which she still holds. In this capacity she had 

the privilege to work with renowned musicians and conductors and had led the MPO to perform in many foreign countries from Europe to China.



In 2006 Marcelline was invited to join the World Philharmonic Orchestra to perform in Paris,

under the baton of Japanese Conductor Yutaka Sado, a unique experience which she will never forget.


Marcelline regularly attends Baroque Courses at Marnaves, France under the guidance of

Ms. Maggie Faultless.


She is a member of the MPO String Quartet, and of the Valletta Baroque Ensemble, which

incorporates Master Classes with Ms. Catherine Martin.


Marcelline performs as a soloist, gives recitals, and records both in Malta and abroad.

Michael Laus

Michael Laus graduated in Piano, Harpsichord and Composition at the Conservatorio

Giuseppe Verdi of Milan in 1982. He later participated in Master Classes in conducting given by George Manahan in the United States and Vladimir Delman in Bologna.


Michael Laus was the Principal Conductor of Malta’s National Orchestra for twenty-five

years and now is its Resident Conductor. He has conducted the Malta Philharmonic

Orchestra in symphonic concerts in Malta, Belgium and Italy. He was the founder and first

music director of the Malta Youth Orchestra and of the Goldberg Ensemble, a group

specializing in Baroque and Classical music.


In 2016, he conducted the first European performance of Arvo Pärt’s Greater Antiphons. He opened the first edition of the Valletta International Baroque Festival with Vivaldi’s Le

Quattro Stagioni. Michael Laus has conducted the Bournemouth Symphony, the Slovak

Philharmonic, the New Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Orquesta Sinfonica de

Asturias. He has directed several operatic productions at the Berne State Theatre and in

Oviedo. These include new productions of Adriana Lecouvreur, Otello, Madama Butterfly

and L’amico Fritz.


He regularly appears in the double role of pianist/harpsichordist and conductor in a

concerto repertoire ranging from Baroque to twentieth century works. In this double role,

he has won international critical acclaim for his recording of Cyril Scott’s Harpsichord

Concerto. He has recorded for Discover International, Unicorn-Khanchana and Cameo

Classics. He is Associate Professor in Music Studies at the University of Malta.

Nadia Debono

For the past 6 years Nadia Debono has held the post of Principal Viola with the Malta

Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) following 12 years as its co-leader. In 1995 and 1996, Nadia

was selected by the Orchestre Des Jeunes de la Méditerranée to participate in workshops

and tours in various countries. She has been invited to join the National Youth Orchestra of

Ireland, EU orchestra and the Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia.


Debono is a member of the New Century Baroque (NCB) orchestra, an acclaimed

international period instrument Baroque orchestra, that was established by members of the 2009 European Union Baroque Orchestra (EUBO). Moreover, Nadia is also a member of

ViBE, the resident ensemble of the Valletta International Baroque Festival.


Nadia Debono is a keen chamber musician; she is a member of the MPO String Quartet and

co-founded the Anon String Quartet, which has recently been integrated into the Goldberg

Ensemble Malta. She has toured as a chamber musician giving performances in England,

France, Italy, Scotland, Germany and Tunisia.


Nadia Debono has several recordings to her credit in her various capacities.



Marcelline Agius 


Nadia Debono



Michael Laus

© Festivals Malta - 2019