Clifford Borg Quotes
"Drifted is a true example that good, passionate music does not need cosmetic facelifts"

Michael Bugeja
Music Critic, Malta Independent - 2003

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by Joseph Camilleri, Sat 18th of October, Times of Malta.
Music: Piano Recital by Clifford Borg Sala Isouard, Manoel Theatre.

“Crossover” is the term used to describe the fusion of classical music with other styles, such as jazz, rock or world music. This genre has become increasingly popular during the past years, with results ranging from the inspired to the downright bland. The flyer advertising Clifford Borg`s recital Anticipation promised an evening of “crossover”, with works by Satie and Debussy alongside those of rock artist Alanis Morissette and Borg`s own “hit singles”.

Being unacquainted with Borg`s works, I must say I attended the concert with much curiosity and without some trepidation. The evening turned out to be an entertaining one, with much of the programme dedicated to Borg`s own compositions. He has a flair for writing piano miniatures of instant melodic appeal, much in the vein of the acclaimed Italian Ludovico Einaudi and, to a lesser extent, Yann Tiersen or Michael Nyman, Like these composers, Borg relies heavily on minimalist arpeggiated figures and on varied repetitions of the main theme.

Fortunately, given the brevity of the pieces, the music ideas rarely outstayed their welcome. Some of the pieces must be singled out. Emergence, the opening item on the programme, was a predominantly melancholic work and is quite typical of the composer’s style. Indian Summer started with a number of rhythmic surprises and developed into a haunting melody. Expectations exploited the upper registers of the piano, especially in the opening and closing bars.

A drawback of this type of music, however, is that all pieces then to sound similar. It was therefore wise of Clifford Borg to vary the textures of some his pieces by adding violin and cello parts (played by Simon Vella and Simon Abdilla Joslin respectively). Indeed Longing Dawn, with its haunting cello solo, was one of the most enjoyable of Borg`s works. The evening was further enlivened by dancers Graziella Tonna and Aida Ascic Grech, who provided a visual accompaniment to Ira and Ladybird – pretty unusual fare for the Sala Isouard.

Interspersed among Borg`s works were pieces by other composers. Borg ventured into classical music territory with Debussy`s La Fille aux chevaux de lin and Satie`s Gnossienne No 1. Both performances were expressive, but over-pedalling smudged the music`s textures. The collaboration with well-known vocalist Miriam Christine, who sang arrangements of Gershwin`s Summertime and Alanis Morissette`s That I would be good, was altogether more successful, with the latter piece sounding particularly moving in the acoustic “classical” guise.

One hopes that we will hear more of Clifford Borg, and that he will not be afraid to take risks and experiment with new compositional techniques. In the meantime, he is providing Maltese audiences with some enjoyable “chill-out “piano music sounds”.



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