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piano, tape


12' 04''



Commissioned by

Malta Society of Arts, for the Malta Society of Arts' 100 years at Palazzo de La Salle celebrations


Gabi Sultana
15th June 2023
Palazzo De La Salle (Valletta, Malta)


At the heart of this piece is the voice of Medea Mei Figner (1859-1952), an Italian soprano whose voice is captured in some of the oldest music recordings we have. Over the course of one of the recent lockdowns, I became increasingly fascinated with an early 1900s recording which I came across online. The first attempts at using these recordings in a composition were purely electroacoustic (and mostly for personal consumption), with the next serious attempt being a short exploratory sketch blending Medea’s voice and a non-vocal imitation of it, recorded on a saxophone (with thanks to Carl Raven of House of Bedlam who I met at Dartington Festival).

This piece, which is my first solo work for the piano and comes after several months of composing silence, draws inspiration from the piano’s often unsung role as an accompaniment. It is conceived as an intimate and tender conversation between the ethereal voice of Medea (and her accompanist) and the pianist. Over three sections, the piano part attempts to bridge the gap between the decades-old voice, in its delicate timeless existence, and the alive sounds of the instrument and the pianist.

‘medea’ is written thanks to Karl Fiorini and the Malta Society of Arts, through which I had my first music lessons when I was a small child in their Valletta Palazzo.

Photos: Christian Sultana

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