Clifford Borg Quotes
"Clifford Borg music at times is big music without sounding pretentious"

Eric Montfort
Music Critic - di-ve.com - 2012

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INTRIGUING MALTESE NEO-CLASSICS -2013

Eric Montfort recalls Clifford Borg, the Mellieha-based musician who has won local and foreign audiences with his wonderful, original piano arrangements.

 

 

Clifford Borg belongs to a new generation of audacious, intelligent and young Maltese musicians who have brought about a quiet revolution in our music scene. Inspired by experimental 20th century musicians like Debussy, Satie and Bartok as well as the late Charles Camilleri, these musicians have been delivering some fine, original compositions for quite some time now. Clifford (and before him Ruben Zahra) have actually presaged this new movement by just a few years. Like fellow musicians, they have also adapted and have exhibited a lot of creativity. Their contributions have helped to see an organic growth in this area. And there is so much to fathom in this scene.

Clifford’s second album, Origin was released in 2008, and won local and international plaudits.Emergence, which opens procedures, immediately hints that the artiste is keen on fusing disparate styles within his own timbre. It varies between melancholy and positivity, somehow reflecting inner strife. The song grows and builds itself into a melody that touches the listener, providing a melodramatic journey, and an indication of where Clifford wants to go.

There is no doubt that the songs featured on Origin are superior in quality and evoke a deeper feeling for the music he loves. The well-paced and heartfelt Orange Forever, the romantic waltz ofUn-leaving, the pastoral Secret Energy and the cinematic Emergence are all vivid examples of how Clifford Borg can deliver his music with so much zest and versatility. Indeed, passion is the motivating force behind the arrangements featured in Origin.  At times such passion and intensity stands out where it is least expected, with the prime case being Secret Energy. The interchange in the high notes and the sudden ending provide wonderful counterpoints to an otherwise quiet tune. Ellen’s Colours, on the other hand, presents another pastoral scenario not far removed from the Virginia Astley’s cult classic From Gardens Where We Feel Secure.

Clifford Borg certainly knows a thing or two about delivering big music. Origin at times is big music without sounding pretentious. It is music that grows on the listener and could well be the way forward for more creative, beautiful compositions.

 

Interview with Clifford Borg

 


 

Your music has been cited as new age. How would you react to such statements?

I think that classifying music in general can be a personal choice and also at times it is up to the listener to classify music to a certain genre. I do have a classical background and also to other types of musical styles since my father was a jazz musician and so I feel that in my compositions, there is a blend of musical styles. In classical music in general, I feel there are lots of rules, however, in new age you can really perform the music in a different manner. In addition, let’s take piano music in films for example - they are more of a new age style than classical. Yes for sure, there is a lot of commitment to my music because it is something which is completely evolving.

This second album has more variation that its predecessor.  How did you approach composition?
Yes, being exposed to different inspirations, discovering new music and ideas and getting more musically mature does influence my music.

There are some fine arrangements – the floating arrangements in Expectations are beautiful, there are arpeggios in All in Black and White and the reflexive tones of Waiting; they are my favourites and I believe will go down well with the audience. Can you tell us more about them?

Worth Waiting is really one of my personal favourites and was written in Brussels in 2005. All in Black and White was written in Holland in 2003 while Expectations was written in Malta in 2000.Origin is like my personal greatest hits because I have selected my personal compositions during 8 years of composition. Worth Waiting was written because I was longing for something that has never really occurred and therefore was inspired to create something really touching. All in Black and White was inspired by a female friend of mine whose life story has inspired me a lot. Her house was really all in black and white. Ellen`s Colours is dedicated to her daughter because she died from an incurable disease. Expectations was at the time when I was discovering Debussy - and I remember I wanted to do something really flowing and was in a good mood - therefore was inspired.

Were there personal situations that led to some of the compositions featured in Origin?

Yes, all of them are quite personal. For example Complete is really about trying to find your origins in order to feel complete. A Closed chapter, I was so relieved and happy that I finished University and not studying chemistry anymore, and wanted to do something really tranquil. Emergence andAfrindian Summer were composed when I spent 3 months in Germany and Holland in 2003.Simplicity was inspired by a movie - Amelie. I was so touched with the music and the story that I composed Simplicity. I wanted to name my album Origin, because my original roots are in playing piano - so that is why it is an album completely in piano. In Drifted, I collaborated with other artists. With Origin, I wanted to have a piano album.

How do you view the music scene today, especially neo-classical?

I think that the music scene in general is improving. However, every scene in my opinion is under threat of music downloading and the risk that artistes will diminish in the future. The Neo-classical scene will for sure be more appreciated in big cities such as London, however, since it is a type of genre which is quite specific in Malta, this scene might take more time to develop.  There are some great neo-classical artists such as Ludovico Einaudi, however, here in Malta there are not many people who know this artiste, unless one is familiar with classical music.

 

 

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