Chamber Concert by quintet

Date(s) - 05 Dec 2021

A Chamber Music Concert

A selection of works composed for quartet and quintet setups are going to be performed by Stefan Calleja, Sonia Mallia, Joseph Mallia, Desirée Calleja and Noel Curmi.

Date: Sunday 5 December 2021

Time: 6.30pm (Doors open 15 minutes before)

Venue: Concert Hall of the Malta Society of Arts,
Palazzo de La Salle, 219, Republic Street, Valletta

Entrance is at a suggested donation of €5.


By virtue of their friendship, the five musicians are going to take us on a journey through four different eras of music, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and 20th Century Music, while performing works by J.S. Bach, W.A. Mozart, A. Dvořák, H. Baermann and M. DeFalla during this chamber concert.

Stefan Calleja, Sonia Mallia, Joseph Mallia and Desirée Calleja will take centre stage for the first piece, Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 (1st Mov.), composed by J.S. Bach in 1721. Originally this Concerto was composed for a combination of three violins, three violas, three cellos and continuo (violone and harpsichord). However, during this concert an arrangement for string quartet is going to be performed. This piece shows a typical Bach’ s compositional writing where long flowing melodic lines used with ornamentation, beautiful lyric passages, ensemble work between players and virtuosic flourishes throughout the whole concerto.

Following the deep colours and grandeur of the baroque era, the next chosen piece will complement the concert not only for its grandiosity but because this year, the 5th of December commemorates the 230 years anniversary from this composer’ s death. Noel Curmi on clarinet will join his long-time friends to perform together the famous Clarinet Quintet in A Major by W.A. Mozart. The month of December is also special for this marvellous work, 232 years ago the world premiere was played by Anton Stadler on his clarinet, on the 22nd December 1789. The Clarinettist Anton Stadler inspired Mozart to consider the clarinet as more than merely a voice in the texture of orchestral sound. This quintet in particular, is not simply a work for solo instrument and string accompaniment, but a masterfully integrated chamber work for equal partners, in which the clarinet blends and the individual strings occasionally take centre stage. The beauty of sound Mozart draws from the ensemble comes not just from the wealth of attractive thematic ideas and their masterful development but also from the balance he creates with the timbres of the five instruments.

Succeeding the Viennese Classic, the setup will go back to string quartet, which will take us now to the Romantic Era, by performing the piece composed by A. Dvořák, Waltz No. 1. This waltz originally forms part of eight waltzes written for piano, around 1880. Dvořák composed these Eight Walzes, Op. 54, for an anniversary ball. They are wonderfully original, and range in mood from the wistful to the boisterous. After a few months, while organising a concert, he arranged two of them, the first and the fourth waltzes, for string quartet. These waltzes show Dvořák in a gentle, sometimes wistful mood.

The next piece for this evening, the quintet will perform the middle movement of H. Baermann Quintet No. 3 in E flat Major, Op. 23 composed in 1821, which is the most performed as a solely piece than the other movements of this Quintet. This movement, a beautiful Adagio, was for more than a century attributed to Richard Wagner, and for this reason, it is one of the few chamber works of his which survived into the 20th Century and received new editions. The correct source was first revealed in a short paragraph by Hans-Georg Bach in the Neue Zeitung für Musik in 1964. Baermann was an exponent of this new style of playing and owned a modernized instrument that enabled him to play chromatic passages with greater ease. This Luminous Adagio was one of a series of pieces that he composed to demonstrate his control and beauty of tone.

For the last piece for this evening, the quartet will perform, Danza Española No. 1 by M. DeFalla. This lovely arrangement for string quartet was done by K. Krantz. Originally this piece was composed for a full orchestra as part of M. DeFallas’ opera La Vida Breve at a feverish pace in 1904-1905 for a composition competition. The composer settled on a tragic subject from one of C. F. Shaw’ s poems, El Chavalillo, about a lover’s treachery due to class distinction. DeFalla won the competition by unanimous decision, however, after numerous revisions and many failed attempts for performance and publication, this opera was premiered in Nice – Paris on April 1, 1913. This Spanish Dance No. 1, is lively and energetic and arranged for a plethora of instrumental combinations, such as violin and piano and the one that will be listed during this concert for a string quartet.

Chamber Group Members

From top left clockwise: Desirée Calleja, Noel Curmi, Joseph Mallia, Stefan Calleja and Sonia Mallia.

Their friendship and music making together started around 8 years ago. All of this flourished from the Malta Youth Orchestra, where during that time, they were all leaders of their respective section. During these eight years, they continued furthering their studies in Malta and abroad. Moreover, they also performed with various orchestras, including the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra. They have also performed in different setups around Malta and abroad. This concert is the first of its kind playing together as a quintet to commemorate their friendship throughout their journey through music.