#Interview with Bach Guitar Duo (Florindo Baldissera and Vittorino Nalato) (November 2009) on #neuguitars #blog



The first question is always the classic one: how does it start your love and interest for guitar?

V.N. I received the love for the guitar from my mother who, loving this noble instrument, joined me when I was twelve years at the municipal school of music of my city. Later, the listening to a vinyl of A. Segovia in which he played the great Bach was revealing: the guitar was my instrument.

F.B. It was a true “vocation”. As if I felt I was called by something existing inside myself that practically forced me to undertake the study of the guitar without having even the vaguest idea what it was and what kind of music I would have played. Andres Segovia, toghter with Alirio Diaz and Narciso Yepes, represented the voice of the sirens, irresistible!

In your latest CD devoted to the music of Bach you played with the guitars made by Marco Maguolo and Masaru Khono, how was to play with these instruments? What guitars do you play or have you played?

V.N. I tried many instruments in the past, I also have a great guitar made in 1973 by the Venetian luthier Leone Sanavia, but I can not separate myself from my Khono, 1981: soft keyboard, perfect tonal balance and great sound.

F.B. Among the many guitars I’ve played I am attached to the tone and the readiness of the guitar that Marco Maguolo made for me a little time before the recording of the Cd, so the choice fell on this beautiful instrument. I also have a beautiful guitar with top in cedar made by Robert Ruck that made the sound of the Duo a little bit too black because of his fantastic basses. I appreciate very much the Migliorini-Pozzi’s guitars and the new instruments, some of which are truly extraordinary, made by Loris Colladon, a luthier in Belluno.

How did start your interest for Bach? You seem to have like a real visceral love for him, calling the Duo with his name, although then I noticed that in the concert you play music by other authors also….

V.N. Bach inspires us in a particolar way. I remember the many evenings spent together, reading pages taken from Bach’s manuscripts, the art of escape, the Well-Tempered Clavier, chorals for organ and more. The idea was to write transcriptions of unpublished and little known scores. I thank Florindo Baldissera for his fine and effective transcriptions.

F.B. Thanks! However, it is true, the evening devoted to Bach’s readings led us quite naturally to form the Duo (which of course we called BACH Guitar Duo), as accomplice an our common characteristic that has helped us a lot: the good music reading at first sight, that often permit us to enjoy even complex pages immediately. In particular,we both enjoy the aesthetics of Bach and the contemporary composers, thanks to our strong preference for the polyphony, rather than for the nineteenth-century virtuosity or the colorism of the twelve century. Instead we have a special predilection for contemporary music.

Berio in his essay “A remembrance to the future,” wrote: “.. A pianist who is a specialist about classical and romantic repertoire, and plays Beethoven and Chopin without knowing the music of the twentieth century, it is also off as a pianist who is specialist about contemporary music and plays with hands and mind that have never been crossed in depth by Beethoven and Chopin. ” You play traditional classical repertoire but also shows some interest in the contemporary repertoire … do you recognize yourself in these words?

V.N. Of course. A musician in fact, to be meaningful, must extend his art across the whole musical repertoire.

F.B. I agree 200%!

I noticed that you also play in concert music by Piazzolla. I really like this composer, in his History of Tango on Evaristo Carriego Borges talks about the quarrelsome nature of the tango with these words “.. I would say that the tango and milonga express in an immediate way something that poets have often described using words: the belief that fighting may be a party … “beyond the game of poetry hidden in the words of Borges how do you feel Tango?

V.N. I am very passionate about Tango, so as to have played for several years in a group with flute, guitar, bass and vocals, with the help of two dancers. The repertoire consisted only of tangos and milongas. A nice experience!

F.B. It should be noted that the performance of Piazzolla is a very marginal episode in the history of Bach Guitar Duo, and most likely will not have a following, unless you are a Prelude and Fugue all’arrangiamento the great bandeonista suitable for 2 guitars. I consider Piazzolla a great and fundamental author of the twentieth century, which has created a strong and comunicative language difficult to find in a lot of music today. And the Tango is a window to a sensual, hot, human, mysterious world, which is inside us, beneath the ashes of the conventions, ready to upsurge in its dazzling beauty …

For Florindo Baldissera: In addition to the Duo you are active in several projects, soloist, vocals and guitar, flute and guitar, violin and guitar, vilhuela and the Fandango Guitar Quartet … how so many interests and how your way of playing changes about different contexts?

F.B. Simply because I enjoy playing in any context, if there is quality. And I prefer more the musical dialogue with other people than the monologue. I do not deny that job opportunities are increasing dramatically. Recently I also learned to play, for pleasure, the vihuela. When I had the possibilità to play it live I was a little puzzled by the easy success I got, without the exhausting labors of a guitar recital: I really enjoyed this new dimension. I should point out that in any case I think the recital of solo guitar is the highest and intense professional experience. But it requires a large caliber interpretation!

For Florindo Baldissera: In an interview published on the web site of PsicoLAB – Laboratorio di ricerca e sviluppo in Psicologia entitled The fright among musicians (link http://www.psicolab.net/index.asp?pid=idart&cat=6&scat=282&arid=2328 ) You talk about “red mistakes” and “blue mistekes” adding that “The great iterpreters are great improvisers, because usually when there is a lapse of memory they fill these gaps and – if one sells well his product – manages to convince his audience, including mistakes, “we can reopen this issue? I noticed that the fear of an error in concert is a common problem among classical guitarists and does not seem to strike with the same force who plays in other areas (jazz, rock, blues, etc..) They seem to have a more relaxed attitude …

F.B. Playing is a great thing! Waisting it with anxiety, panic, or worse is a real insult! I tried on myself and I try to track down in any way the causes of insecurity for many guitarists, especially in the learning process. I put questions and answers, which is widely used in credited studies of psychology, much more then my modest experience. I suggest the reading of the book of Christian Agrillo Suonare in pubblico (Carrocci editions). In music in which the heights and durations of the sounds are not a problem, or where the language is simple and repetitive, or where the gesture is easily manageable, performance’s anxiety is reduced dramatically. Also because there isn’t a real error related to a poor making of a product that was to be delivered according to a prearranged code. If I would play music composed by myself I would probably be more relaxed (at least until these musics were not known by all!) becouse being difficult to recognize the error it would not represent a disturbing threat or an irresistible and pernicious siren. But then what’s a mistake? We could say that it is a red or blue apostrophe between the pillars supporting the structure of an expression. The mistake is not in the imperfection but in those who do not tolerate it or, worse, who wants to correct at all costs during the performance! To simplify I shall the call red error the worse one, which breaks the trend of the music, which evaporates the magical atmosphere that was created, and a blue error, the mild one, that imperfection that do not impair the overall design, and in any case not is experienced as a loss interpretation. Basically a good interpreter will only blu errors.

For Vittorino Nalato: You recorded in 2006 a CD of music by the contemporary Hungarian composer Ferenc Farkas, do want to talk about this experience and this music?

V.N. It was an interesting experience, which led me to understand the eclectic side of F. Farkas and the musical aspect taken from the Hungarian folklore.

For Vittorino Nalato: In addition to your classical guitarist activity you are also a founder and the artistic director of the Coro CAI Belluno, do you wants to us about this particular parallel activity? 

V.N. I always had a passion for choral music and, in particular for the choir of the SAT of Trento. I find the musical repertoire of this choir, which I was inspired, and absolutely beautiful: it’s amazing how musicians like Renato Dionisi, Andrea Mascagni, Bruno Bettinelli and even the great Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, have harmonized folk melodies for choir four items, turning them into true musical masterpieces.

Let’s talk about marketing. How much do you think it’s important for a modern musician? I mean, how much is crucial to be a good promoters of themselves and their works in the world music of today?

F.B. I think it is vital if you want to stay in the market.

In addition to your significant live activity, you are both professors of guitar how you can combine these two activities? Sometimes I have the impression of a dichotomy between the two “careers”: a musician busy with his concert activity shall be a good teacher …

V.N. In my case, I must say that I can reconcile the two things very well, and that even teacher’s activity is able to give me a lot of satisfaction. The continuing confrontation with the students is very stimulating, and being able to transmit the passion for music and technical expertises, getting often good results, it’s extremely rewarding. The hope is always to train new musicians.

F.B. I also share this passion for teaching that has given me, and is giving me many rewards, both artistic, both in human terms. Is not at all difficult to reconcile the various activities, you just have to be organized and not overlap them too much! Rather than play many concerts I’d like to play good concerts …

For Florindo Baldissera: being a Venetian this is an almost certain question , how is teaching at the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello in Venice? In October 2008 you have invited Elena Càsoli for a Masterclass about contemporary music.. Given the success of this initiative, there will be a sequel?

F.B. Certainly yes. With Elena, we are hearing quite frequently and I have not hidden my respect and admiration for her original, serious and totally acceptable way of relating to music and guitar. The experience of 24 October 2008 in Venice, besides the amazing turnout with as many as 42 entries, was appreciated by all those I have heard, students and not, as a rewarding immersion in a world full of rich wonders: the new music.

What does improvisation mean for your music research? Do you think it’s possibile to talk about improvisation for classical music or we have to turn to other repertories like jazz, contemporary music, etc.? Or maybe as part of contemporary music is preferable to talk about random improvisation?

V.N. Personally, I believe that improvisation longer belongs to other repertorires than to the classical’s one.

F.B. I think it is important beacuse I think that a musician should be complete. But I admit my total ignorance on the subject, although the attendance of the ancient repertoire or the approch with the cadences in concert’s pieces I have often faced with a sudden problem. The trouble is that my improvisations are always written!

Listening to your music, I noticed the quiet serenity with which you approach your instrument regardless of repertoire, from whom you are playing, the composer, the instrument that you use always showing full control both technical and emotional, how much important is to work on technique to achieve this level of “security”?

V.N. The technique is fundamental: we start from it to better express our own musicality.

F.B. It’s essential to the extent that in public I must express certainty the instrumental language and its nuances. I would, however, that in the term technical was included all the essential knowledge components that make up the fact executive: listening, rhythm, reading, phrasing, memory, gesture, fingering, style, pronunciation and musical culture and beyond.

Luciano Berio writes “the preservation of the past has a negative sense, as it becomes a way of forgetting music. The listener will get an illusion of continuity that allows you to select what seems to confirm that same continuity and censor everything that seems disturbing it”, What role can take music and contemporary composers in this context?

F.B. It ‘a tough question. Tradition assures us, avant gard destabilized us, but makes us curious. I believe that contemporary music is too distant and isolated in the cultural landscape of today in order to be rightfully considered a true “voice”. A reflection on the effectiveness of music as communication certainly be beneficial to a wider musical renaissance. And the road that Elena Càsoli is walking seems to me, in this area, in the right direction.

What do you think about the discographic market crisis, with the transition to digital downloading in mp3 and all this new scenario?

V.N. In a negative way.
Please tell us five essential records, to have always with you .. the classic five discs for the desert island …
– Bach – Variazioni Goldberg di eseguite da G. Gould
– J. Bream & J. Williams LIVE
– Parkening plays Bach
– Bach Messa in si minore – H. Karajan
– J. Dowland – Complete music for solo lute – J. Lindberg
– Records of Jordi Savall (virtually all)
– The record for the 50 years of career celebration of Andres Segovia
– The Bach played by Glenn Gould, Andras Schiff and Gustav Leonhard
– The Scarlatti performed by Ottavio Dantone (CD Amadeus)
– The last concert of Emil Gilels (CD Hermitage)
– All the discs by Julian Bream (excluding only a few) and those of Oscar Ghiglia
– 2nd Concerto by Rachmaninov with Sviatoslav Richter Gaspard de la nuit by Ravel performed by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
And many others (but I think I’ll go on the island with a large trunk)

What are your five favorite scores?

V.N. Bach – Preludio, fuga e allegro BWV 998
Bach – Chaconne
B. Britten – Nocturnal
S. Dodgson – Partita for Guitar
A. Josè – Sonata

F.B. Giuliani, Sonata op. 15
Sor, Variazioni op. 9 e i Minuetti
Castelnuovo Tedesco, Sonata op. 77
Martin, 4 Pièces brèves
De Falla, Homenaje

The Blog has recently opened a new section dedicated to young graduates, what kind of advice would you like to give to those who, after years of study, decided to start a career as a musician?

V.N. Continue, while maintaining consistency, tenacity and passion for music, despite numerous difficulties.
F.B. Not surrender and love what they do.

With who would you like to play?

V.N. With J. Williams.

F.B. With Giuseppe Pepicelli

Your next projects?

V.N. and F.B. We are working for the next CD, which will be also entirely devoted to Bach, with the help of a guitar tuned a fourth above to increase the instrumental extention.

Thank you very much!