Bartók – Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
Photo by Stephen Buhagiar
In collaboration with
Every year the Malta International Arts Festival collaborates with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra to present an innovative programme of 20th century and contemporary works. This concert, under the baton of Czech conductor Pavel Šnajdr, features a tour de force performance of masterworks: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta by Béla Bartók, Concerto in D for String Orchestra by Igor Stravinsky, and Ricordanza per Archi by Wojciech Kilar.
Concerto in D for String Orchestra (1946)
II Arioso: Andantino
III Rondo: Allegro
Ricordanza per Archi (2005)
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (1936)
I Andante tranquillo
IV Allegro molto
Music for String, Percussion, and Celesta (1936)
I Andante tranquillo
IV Allegro molto
Bartók composed this work in 1936. It was commissioned by Swiss conductor Paul Sacher to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Basel Chamber Orchestra (Basler Kammerorchester – BKO).
In the first movement, the metre changes in virtually every measure, and the slow, seamless nature of the material works against detecting a beat, thus avoiding a regular pulse. The Allegro, on the other hand, is the kind of brisk, rhythmically incisive music regularly identified with Bartók’s name. Although both movements are based on the same thematic material, the Allegro is as boldly aggressive as the first is dark and mysterious. The Adagio is classic “night music”, as Bartók defined it, and is an atmospheric mist of magical, nocturnal sounds. The music is filled throughout with mysterious and delicate effects, with the sound of the wind rustling through the harp, celesta, and piano being particularly haunting. The finale opens with the strumming of violins and a peasant tune, which is eventually treated to a number of frenzied variations. We finally come full circle, arriving at a new, streamlined version of the work’s opening melody that’s both unexpected and entirely fitting.
Born in modern-day Czechia in 1975, Pavel Šnajdr is currently an opera conductor at the National Theatre Brno. This is the culmination of many years’ work, starting with his time at the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts, where Šnajdr studied composition with Alois Piňos and conducting with Emil Skoták. This led Šnajdr to work with a number of Czech symphonic orchestras, and also to take on several full-time engagements with the likes of the JK Tyl Theatre in Pilsen, the State Opera in Prague, the Moravian Theatre Olomouc.
Šnajdr’s interest in performing contemporary music has its roots in his time as a student, when he collaborated with the Ars Incognita ensemble. After returning from his engagement in Pilsen in 2010, Šnajdr and several musicians established the Brno Contemporary Orchestra, an ensemble focused on interpreting contemporary music.
Konstantinos Destounis is a Greek pianist whose career has seen him perform at some of the most prestigious venues in the world including the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, the Llewellyn Hall in Canberra, and the Glocke Saal in Bremen. Destounis has also collaborated with orchestras based as far afield as the UK and Australia, and has been a prize-winner at many international piano competitions, most notably the Grand Prix Maria Callas in Athens, the Southern Highlands in Canberra, and the Bremen European Piano Competition.
Destounis’s studies began in Greece before moving on to receive a Master’s from the Mozarteum in Salzburg, and a Doctor of Music degree from the Royal College of Music in London. Between 2017 and 2019, Destounis taught the Bachelor programme of the Royal College of Music and, since 2019, has been a piano professor at the Athens Conservatoire.
The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra
The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in April 1968, when musicians from the defunct C-in-C orchestra of the Malta-based British Mediterranean Fleet regrouped as the Manoel Theatre Orchestra. It then served as the national theatre’s resident orchestra until September 1997, when it became the independent National Orchestra of Malta. The ensemble officially became the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra in 2008, when it expanded into a full-sized symphony orchestra, bringing together the best musicians from Malta, Europe, and beyond.
As the Maltese islands’ only professional orchestra, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra averages more than one performance a week including symphonic concerts, opera productions, community outreach, and educational initiatives, as well as various concerts of a lighter nature. Part of this schedule happens abroad, with the orchestra embarking on at least one international tour every concert season, with previous performances taking place at leading venues in Germany, China, Italy, Austria, and Belgium, among others. The orchestra is also a keen exponent of Maltese composers, and it regularly commissions, premiers, and performs new compositions both on the Maltese Islands and abroad.
Through the MPO Academy and the Malta Youth Orchestra, which itself regularly holds concerts across the Islands, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra is also responsible for the training and professional development of the next generation of Maltese musicians.
Maria Conrad (leader)
Pierre Louis Attard
Inmaculada Muñoz Salgüero
Rebecca Köhler Baratto
Bernadette Lo Russo
Nadia Debono (section principal)
Ester Garcia Salas
Orietta Zammit Beaumer
Ákos Kertész (section principal)
Gjorgji Cincievski (section principal)
Iva Gabriela Bartosch
Michael Camilleri (section principal)
Daniel Cauchi (section principal)
Jean Pierre Cassar
Britt Arend (section principal)
Maria Elena Farrugia
10 July 2021
Pjazza Teatru Rjal,
General Admission: €15
Price is inclusive of VAT.
Children under the age of 12 enter for FREE but still require a ticket.
All necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of patrons, cast and crew are being taken. Masks must be worn throughout the entire performance and social distancing must be respected at all times. Temperature will be taken at the entrance and sanitisation stations will be available.