At the heart of Piano Concerto No. 2 (2015) is Valletta’s streetscape as embodied by Republic Street, the city’s main thoroughfare. This three movement work takes Republic Street both as a structural model as well as a microcosm of Valletta. Since it cuts through the length of the Valletta’s Hippodamian plan it offers a cross section of the city’s social and cultural fabric. From the hectic commercial and touristic upper part of the city, Republic Street descends into the quieter residential area before moving upwards towards the majestic Fort St Elmo. This progression is mirrored in the music.
The work is written for piano and wind band as a nod towards Malta’s rich band tradition of which Valletta’s own two band clubs (King’s Own Philharmonic & Filarmonica Nazionale La Vallette) are perhaps among the most illustrious.
I – Moderato
The first movement explores the top part of Republic Street, from City Gate until St George’s Square. It is a busy area dominated by commercial outlets and tourist attractions. The sounds of buskers, military bands, daily chatter, church hymns, and a street organ all converge together as the music reaches a climax. Through juxtaposition or alternation these ideas constantly emerge from the texture only to disappear once again in the general chaos.
II – Adagio Calmo
Few outsiders venture beyond St George’s Square. The topography also changes, and there is a sudden dip as the street reaches its lowest point. This gives the lower end of Republic Street a more intimate feel. The area is mostly residential, but also feels more genuinely Valletta. The music here is reflective – using lyrical melodies, rich harmonies, and chamber-like textures. It is also the most emotionally intense part of the work.
III – Moderato – Allegro molto
Republic Street ends rather abruptly – a small ascent leads you directly in front of Fort St Elmo. The original fort predates the city itself, although the present building is a result of many subsequent interventions. Nevertheless, it is still an impressive building that dominates the tip of the peninsula and separates the city itself from the open sea. This meeting point between the city and the sea, and by extension human activity and nature, is at the heart of this final movement where everything comes together in a grand finale.