Lecture-Recital by Ermira Zyrakja-Lefort
Albanian Composers and their Music
20th European Conference of the European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA), Nicosia, Cyprus, 2-6 October 1998.
This conference provides an opportunity to hear works for the piano by four of the most important Albanian composers. The pieces were selected with a view to presenting a highly representative example of the work of each composer, as well as the traditional music and instruments of the various area of Albania from which the composers drew their inspiration.
Feim Ibrahimi (1935-1997): Toccata
In this toccata, we find the traditional motif whose sound and rhythm come from the instrument known as loder or daullë. This is a skin instrument (with two skins) played with two drumsticks: one thin and one a little thicker. This instrument is still widely used in Northern Albania and accompanies festive dances or traditional war dances. The atmosphere of this particular toccata; was inspired by a festive spirit. The central motif is based on the këngë majekrahu from the mountains of Northern Albania, a song of communication used from mountain top to mountain top by the mountain dwellers. It consists of sung phrases with a prolonged final syllable. The repetition of the toccata is a summary of the dialogue between the sounds of the instrument and the epic and proud vocal tones of the majekrahu song.
Kosma Lara (born 1930): Ballade pastorale
This piece is a pastoral panorama, inspired by the bucolic tradition of Southern Albania. The composer attempted to reproduce on the piano the sounds and bells of the flock and the shepherds whistles, Its harmony recalls the relationships of the sounds used in the traditional polyphony which prevails in the South of Albania. These polyphonic chants are sung by groups of men and women and are characterized by a continuous voice, harsh descants and vocal glissandos.
Tonin Harapi (1928-1997): Three miniatures
In these three miniatures, the atmosphere was inspired, as in much of the work of this composer, by the urban songs of Northern Albania, particularly of the northern town of Shkodra. In the miniatures, we find the lyrical colours of the songs, which express love, suffering, marriage, death. We can also recognize the influence of the instruments; which accompany these urban songs, such as the defi, a one-skinned instrument which we tap and make revolve in the hand, or the ancient violin (chord system D, A, D, G or A, A, D, G).
Cesk Zadeja (1927-1997): Toccata
This composers main source of inspiration was the epic character of Albanian traditional music. Zadeja had a deep knowledge of this type of music, which he always loved to reproduce for classical instruments and classical orchestras. In this toccata we can feel the rhythmic and sonorous base sound of another traditional instrument called çiftelia, an instrument with two chords, no bow and 11 or 13 tastes. This instrument is played in Northern and central Albania, to accompany ballads and epic songs. This toccata presents a tableau of northern celebrations and its structure is as follows: instrumental overture (çiftelia), followed by a charming women dance and then war dances performed by men, and ends with a repetition including all dances and instrumental motifs.
For the first time in the history of classical Albanian music, the works presented in this conference-recital, as well as a dozen of other works by these four composers, are available on compact disc which I recorded in honour of my country and of these talented Albanian composers whose works, unknown until now, are worth discovering and hearing.