The original inspiration for the Maltese Islands Suite came from two of my piano students, Ralph and Reuben Jones, whose mother is Maltese, and who lent me some books about the island, where I’ve now spent two holidays The four-movement suite was therefore initially intended for the younger pianist. However, rather like Schumann’s Kinderszenen, advanced players may hopefully find something to enjoy here, too.
Just before Christmas, 2004, I was delighted to receive an email from Sharon Gauci (see photo), of Senglea, Malta, who had seen the suite whilst browsing the former SibeliusMusic, and asked whether she could give the world premiere of the work on Malta itself! It goes without saying that I immediately got back to say how thrilled I would be, if this were to happen, and I’ve subsequently dedicated the Maltese Islands Suite to Sharon (or ’Shar’, to her friends!). Sharon has since moved to the UK, where she is now teaching.
The second piece of the Maltese Islands Suite presents a picture of the island best-known racecourse, a short distance from the capital, Valletta, in the town of Marsa. The music hopefully suggests the start of the race, the gallop as the horses jockey for position – here using essentially a chromatically rising progression, where some quite banal tune snippets are heard, before the final straight. Here a gradual stringendo raises the excitement as the horses nudge ahead to win the race outright! Both hands are involved in the melody, the left hand in particular, as well as sharing some passages together. Dynamic balance and neat, clear articulation are the order of the day here.
The whole Suite is also available from Score Exchange at a discounted price.