1. Vistu / Mourning
  2. Ma Ħallejt Xejn Warajk / You Left Nothing Behind
  3. Meta Titgħallem Titlaq / When You Learn to Depart

TluqTluq is a short song cycle set to poetry by John Aquilina from his latest publication bearing the same name. These three poems are a condensation of some of the main themes of the book: loss of love, regret, loneliness, and eventual reconciliation. Vistu (Mourning) speaks about loss not as something physical but an emotional loss which also necessitates mourning. The music is a dramatic setting, almost half-way between an aria and a recitative, reflecting the protagonist’s anguish.

The sense of loss is further elucidated upon in Ma Ħallejt Xejn Warajk (You Left Nothing Behind). There is nothing left except for a few hairs, your smell, an orchid, and a ray of light that disappeared the minute you closed the door. The cello opens the song with a mournful ground bass as the music develops into a passacaglia where the repetitions of the ground bass reflect the sense of hopelessness.

The cycle ends with Meta Titgħallem Titlaq (When You Learn to Depart) – only when you learn to depart have you truly achieved reconciliation. The music is now calmer with gently oscillating chords and a more lyrical melodic line, bringing the cycle to a positive end.

The song cycle was premiered by mezzo-soprano Clare Ghigo at the launch of John Aquilina’s Tluq on 21st September 2019 at The Mill in Birkirkara. The song cycle has been recorded by soprano Gillian Zammit, together with Frank Camilleri (cello) and Britt Arend (harp) in a special arrangement commissioned by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and is set for release in 2020.

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