It is not so easy to recall all that I have experienced while working on “Origin”, my second album so far. Perhaps this is due to the fact that it has taken five long years since the release of my debut album entitled “Drifted”. I have been through some rough times but in retrospect, the life changing events encountered have been positive.
The track “Ellen`s Colours”, is dedicated to a lately departed friend. On a particular gloomy day while recording the song a ray of sunlight suddenly lit the piano. It only lasted for the length of the track but the moment remained ingrained. Why Origin? This is because I was craving to record another piano album. When I found the recording studio in Brussels, I really felt at my Origin. It has been a long journey and I hope you will enjoy the music as much as I have enjoyed living through the trails and tribulations of these past five years.
All tracks composed, produced and performed by Clifford Borg. Recorded on Steinway Piano – Studio ODEON 120 Brussels - 2005. Editing, recording and mastering by Michael W.Huon.
Rating: 4 reviews
REVIEW BY NEWAGEPIANO.NET - 2010
Review by Prof Robert J. Wierzbicki www.newagepiano.net
The musical atmosphere on Clifford Borg’s second album “Origin” is somewhat cloudy. The unfolding of the music is like a mental strife between sadness and smiles but with not really much space left for the latter. The 16 tracks on the album work perfectly together creating a melodramatic-like audible scenery and very stringent musical dramaturgy.
Borg manipulates the listeners’ emotions in a fantastic way using tension in creating piano music elements and mixing seemingly divergent musical styles - from cinematic tunes in “Emergence”, through romantic waltz music in “Un-leaving” to the nocturne-like “Closed Chapter”.
A comparison with any contemporary or classical piano artist or style does not really make sense in Borg’s case. His piano style is unique - a kind of epic orchestral soundtrack played without an orchestra. Borg’s musical textures augmented with moving images appear even more emotional and expressive. The prize Borg won for his track “Emergence” in the category Best Music for Digital Film at the SL:MIMA 2009 emphasizes his talent as a musical artist and composer of gripping film soundtracks.
FROM DRIFTED TO ORIGIN - 2008
From Drifted to Origin Review by Joseph Camilleri (Writer - Times ofMalta)
My first encounter with the music of pianist-composer Clifford Borg happened in 2003, when I attended “Anticipation” - a concert he had given at the Manoel Theatre’s Sala Isouard featuring several of his own compositions. Then, I had been pleasantly surprised by Clifford Borg’s piano miniatures, with their attractive blend of traditional “classical” techniques and jazz/pop sensibilities. It is true that the style of these pieces owes much to the music of such well-known crossover artists such as Ludovico Einaudi and Yann Tiersen. But this was no mere marketing strategy, some calculated attempt to win over fans from different musical fields. On the contrary, what is striking in this music is its honesty. Having tasted different, contrasting types of music, Clifford Borg has managed to weld these experiences in a style which is varied in its points of reference but which is at the same time simple, tuneful and entertaining.
Clifford Borg’s new solo piano CD “Origin” is in many ways a calling-card, a snapshot of his development as composer and performer over the last years. It takes as its starting-point the “Anticipation” project. Indeed, a number of the pieces formed the backbone of the programme of that 2003 concert. Emergence, the opening track, is a case in point. Built on melancholic arpeggiated figures, it provides a good indication of Borg’s style and is probably one of the best pieces on the cd. Afrindian Summer, a reincarnation of the earlier “Indian Summer” is enlivened by some unexpected rhythms. Expectations with its striking minimalistic opening is another old friend.
But there are several newer works as well, which Clifford Borg has presumably composed and honed over a number of performances. The language is still the same, lyrical, melodious and predominantly laid-back. In some pieces, such as Dasvedania and Beauty one seems to detect a greater influence of popular music – with their clearly discernible, vocal tunes they are not unlike a pop-song without words. One of the highlights of the new material is the penultimate track Complete. A sinuous theme unweaves over a falling ground-bass whilst gentle cluster chords colour the harmonies. The piece grows in intensity until its sudden ending, an effective Nyman-esque touch.
Many pieces have intriguing titles which hint at some hidden meaning. The listener wonders at the identity of the subject of Biography from a window sill, which draws from the performer a soaring melody. Could it be ‘Ellen’, whose “Colours” paint one of the happier of the compositions on this CD?
The sound quality of this recording, made in a Brussels studio on a Steinway D, is certainly an asset, beautifully ringing out the body of the instrument’s timbre.
This is a generously filled CD ideal for winding down and chilling out at the end of the day, an assortment of tuneful piano works which is possibly best enjoyed as if it were a musical chocolate box to dip into. The final track Closed Chapter suggests that Clifford Borg will be seeking new performing/composing pastures. Hopefully, he will build on what he has achieved so far and have the courage to experiment further.
CLIFFORD BORG`S ORIGIN - 2008
Clifford Borg’s Origin Sunday Times: October 26, 2008 Review by Michael Bugeja.
Thanks to a promising album and a string of live performances at home and abroad, Maltese pianist Clifford Borg has become something of a secret musical treasure over the past few years. His 2002 debut album, Drifted, highlighted the artist’s inclination for both the traditional classical style as well as a more contemporary synthesized vein.
His real strength, however, lies in the way he has gradually developed a unique timbre in his style; one that wraps itself around and instills itself within the balance of vitality and emotion that lies at the root of his original compositions.
Borg is currently putting the finishing touches to his forthcoming album, Origin, which is scheduled for release early next year, ahead of which the young pianist will be giving three special performances. The first of these takes place in Brussels on November 4, followed by another in Paris just four days later.
The third performance, taking place at Valletta’s St James Cavalier on January 29 in collaboration with the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, is perhaps the most significant, as Borg will also be launching his new album on the night. Log on to www.cliffordborg.com for updates.
2006 / Clifford Borg
Origin is the second solo piano album by Clifford Borg and was released in 2006. The sixteen original compositions reflect a wide variety of moods and musical styles and all are expressed with passion and honesty. Born into a musical family, Borg started taking piano lessons in his native Malta at the age of five. Within the first year, he joined his two sisters in his father’s band, entertaining patrons at their family’s restaurant. Very favorably received, the group named themselves The Islanders and started performing regularly at various Maltese hotels and clubs. At the age of ten, Borg was invited to give a live solo performance on Malta’s national television station and returned a year later with The Islanders. He started composing music early, earning awards and diplomas along the way. Borg released his first album, Drifted, in 2000 and has performed in concerts over much of Europe and Egypt. Influenced by other classical cross-over artists such as Ludovico Einaudi, Yann Tiersen and Michael Nyman, Borg’s music expresses strength, passion, grace, tenderness and whatever else he wants to communicate in a style that is both beautiful and accessible. It’s about time Clifford Borg found a bigger audience in the US!
Origin begins with “Emergence,” a powerful and haunting piece that won the Best Music for Digital Film award at the Swan Lake Moving Image and Movie Awards in 2010 and was included in a compilation album called Acoustic Visions. Dark and very dramatic, it’s one of those pieces that stays with you long after the music stops. “Afrindian Summer” is much lighter and dreamier with a gentle melody and graceful movement. From the title, one might expect “Simplicity” to be spare and uncomplicated, but one would be mistaken! The piece has a somewhat agitated feeling and is anything but simple. I really like “All in Black and White,” with its flowing broken chords and poignant melody - very emotional and very expressive. “Biography From a Window Sill” is certainly a unique title and this piece goes right to the heart. It must have been a chilly, gray day for the window sill and probably for the composer as well! “Worth Waiting?” is another favorite and sounds like someone pouring his heart out at the piano in the middle of the night, possibly by candlelight, trying to find the answer to a major life crossroad. “Who Is Mr. Swing” is pure light-hearted fun with a catchy rhythm and playful melody. “Secret Energy” is also a favorite. Very powerful emotions pour out of the rolling broken chords and deeply affecting melody. “Ellen’s Colours” is dedicated to a friend who passed away. There is a sadness running through the melody, but there is also a feeling of celebrating a life and of hope - a very beautiful favorite. I also love “Complete,” with its melancholy melody and intense emotional expression. A poem in the liner notes has the same title and explains the reasons for the piece. “Closed Chapter” is a stirring, if somewhat mournful, closing played from the heart and touching the heart of the listener with its honesty and truth.
Origin is a deeply affecting collection of original piano solos and I hope Clifford Borg will have some new music for us soon! The album is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!