Liat Cohen, guitar;
Eyat Ein-Habar, flute;
Santa Marija ta’ Bir Miftuħ chapel

It was a truly splendid conclusion to this year’s Bir Miftuħ International Music Festival, organised by Din l-Art Ħelwa.

It was also the first time that one of the concerts was sponsored by the Embassy of Israel. Non-resident Ambassador Oren David was over from Rome and attended the concert which featured two leading Israeli musicians.

That the concert was so successful is more to be wondered at because this was the duo’s first performance and it could not turn out better. Their rapport seemed to be one forged quite some time before and not so recent.

Two duo pieces were performed at either end of the concert, ever with great balance and mutual support. Both works were by the great guitarist and composer Maurio Giuliani, works which reflect the transitory period from the Classic to the Romantic, but turning more towards Viennese classical influences and here with that special very Italian touch.

The Grand Sonata Op. 85, in four contrasting movements, allows both performers to excel and the sharing of thematic material is quite evenly balanced. Sensitive as well as robust, playful when necessary, both musicians played in great style and always with elegance. They projected very well the intimacy which was easily shared by the audience.

Liat Cohen is considered as one of the best female guitarists on the world scene. Her musicality knows no bounds and she is mistress of her instrument and of course, a very accomplished virtuoso performer.

She performed three solo pieces. Two were by Heitor Villa-Lobos, the first being the Étude No. 8 in C# minor in which projected a blend of the technical as well as highly musical concert nature of the piece. The second piece was Prelude No. 2 in E major, conveyed in its warm and more easily recognisable Brazilian nature thanks its melodies and rhythms. Her last solo was a truly virtuoso showpiece yet one of a lighter nature. Known everywhere as plain Tico-tico, she performed an arrangement by Edson Lopes of Zequinha de Abreu’s Tico-tico no Fubá and could not but meet with a great accolade.

Concluding the concert was Giuliani’s Grand Duo Concertante, Op. 52, which was another fine rendering. It is also in four movements but somewhat briefer than Op. 85. Different too in that it begins with an Andante sostenuto rather than some kind of allegro.

If that were possible, Eyat Ein-Habar’s tone was even more exquisitely crystalline especially in the Menuetto. He also proved his reliable supportive worth when at one point, Cohen had a few seconds’ delay turning an ‘unruly’ page of her score. The flautist just coolly sustained the note he was playing and the work proceeded seamlessly without further ado.

The encore conceded was the trio from Op. 52 above.

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