Dak li tgħidli l-Belt… / That which the City tells me… (2015) is a one-movement piece for piano quintet inspired by the city of Valletta, the capital of Malta. Cities are a fascinating landscape: they are points of intersection for millions of people around the world, and each individual leaves traces (some visible some not) of his/her passage. Visitors and locals alike often look at the city as some form of historical monument, often ignoring the complexity of the city’s identity and nature.


This work, cast in a Theme and Variations form, explores these many layers by taking Republic Street, the main thoroughfare of Valletta, as its starting point. This street cuts halfway through the city’s grid pattern along the length of the peninsula on which the City is built from City Gate all the way down to the majestic Fort St Elmo at the tip of the peninsula. It is thus both a main artery and a cross-section of the city. Each of its 14 blocks constitutes in itself a separate environment. These concentrated microcosms are particular to Valletta and reflect the diversity of content and meaning within the City. The variations move swiftly from one to the next, forming an organic musical structure. The listener thus moves from one variation to the next in a steady progression that preserves the feeling of an uninterrupted journey right across the City.

Dak li Tgħidli l-Belt… was premiered by the Edinburgh String Quartet with Alex Vella Gregory at the piano at St Giles High Kirk, Edinburgh, on Sunday 8th March 2015.

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