Interview with Sergio Sorrentino
Dear Sergio is a lot of time that we haven’t a good chat together, these past two years seem to have been full of satisfactions for you .. two of contemporary music cds released for two different record labels …
Let’s start talking about the first CD “Music from a Parallel World vol4 New Music for Electric Guitar”, released in 2015 for the italian MAP label, as the project was born of this cd and how did you choose the songs you interpreted?
Dear Andrea, thank you for your interest in my music … the project of “Music from a Parallel World” is a natural result of my research on new repertoire for guitar. For some years I am dedicated to increasing the repertoire for this instrument. Electric guitar already has an important repertoire (with passages by Reich, Feldman, Mackey, Murail, Wolff, and others). From 2013 I started to commission new pieces, which I think have expanded the horizons of the electric guitar’s concert. They wrote to me Alvin Curran, Stefano Taglietti, Luca Lombardi, Tom Armstrong, Alfredo Franco and many other great composers. Van Stiefel has composed for me a beautiful Concerto for electric guitar and orchestra, inspired by the blues. The CD “Music from a Parallel World” is a first evidence of this new repertoire and contains some of the passages written for me. In the cd you can also find a score by Bruno Canino for electric guitar and piano. Playing the piano is the same Canino; I played with him and itwas really exciting.
Among other things, not all the scores were composed for electric guitar .. like Nocturno De Visu by Corghi, how did start the idea to trascribe it?
With Azio I have a wonderful human relationship. I like him very much and I love his music very much. I played live his music for Ensemble, his incidental music for the theater and I recorded the song for solo guitar “Consonancias y redobles”. I had the desire to play his other guitar music, and, in the absence of new songs (he was very busy and could not write new material), with Azio we decided to carry on the guitar some of his existing compositions. I then transcribed for Casa Ricordi “Tang’Jok (Guitar)” for classical guitar and, as part of my project for electric guitar, I transcribed “De Visu Nocturno” (the original song is for solo clarinet), “De Visu Nocturno “explores the dark and melodic side of electric guitar, and I opted for a clean sound, with shades closed some ‘jazzy’. Both transcripts have the assent of the composers.
And this year, you made a little masterpiece: the so-called “Bussotti Complete Music for Solo Guitar”, an outstanding idea … how did start this idea? What was the reaction of Bussotti when you talked about it?
Bussotti has always been one of my favorite composers. And I always felt strange that no one has ever published a comprehensive works on his guitar compositions. I therefore decided to fill this gap and I dedicated an entire year to the study of his works. I studied his writings, his poetry, his graphic scores. I immersed myself in the Bussotti’s world, remaining deeply fascinated. On September 1, 2015 I got the courage and I visit him in his home in Milan. Sylvano was very kind and showed immediately enthusiastic about the recording project. He has given me valuable tips on the music and he also gave me an interview (I will publish soon). Interpreting the music of Bussotti means “play” his lines, his drawings, his many graphic signs. Playing Bussotti means to interpret a work of art by following complex graphics and scores. Technically, the guitar writing is very difficult. Nothing is left to chance. It ‘s all written (notes, dynamics, tonal and expressive directions). You have to give a precise meaning to every sentence, every note, in relation to the discursive flow of the composer. In addition, you have to combine everything to a also scenic and theatrical performance, as in some passages there is to recite certain words or phrases. The Bussotti guitar is a total guitar and is a unique example in the contemporary repertoire for this instrument. During our meeting, Sylvano also did me the honor to give me an unpublished manuscript for solo guitar, “Popolaresca”, a song originally written for the theater, in order to hold the first concert performance and record it. Obviously I did not miss the occasion and, in addition to hack it, I played in “premiere” at the International Festival of Guitar in Lagonegro.
It’s amazing to think that two songs as “Nuvola barocca” and “Ermafrodito” have never been recorded … even if they have been performed live several times … why do you think? Little courage in proposing them to a record company?
There were only recordings on YouTube … I do not know … I think it’s lack of foresight by record labels. My CD was rejected by several record companies because they said that the contemporary guitar music does not sell. Far from it. The CD of Bussotti’s going great and perhaps some record at this time will stand eating their hands … at this point I would like to publicly thank the label that produced the album, the Creative Sources in Lisbon. They wanted at all costs to publish the cd crafting a very nice product, enhanced by the beautiful cover of my dear friend Emiliano Cammardella.
I make you a question a little bit …direct: unlike many other your colleagues you have pointed immediately to record activity, there are now different CDs that you’ve created, many more than most of your other colleagues who have more years of activity behind themselves. I agree this your choice for several reasons, not least the fact that one thing is to appear on YouTube, another is to devote time and resources to create a CD, why this choice?
I firmly believe that the CD, unlike some videos on youtube, encloses within it a moment of his own research. A precise and important moment, because, as you rightly pointed out, to make a cd you have to invest time and infinite resources of various kinds. The CD is a work and should be listened to from beginning to end (I do not love or the greatest hits collections). I’m not a writer, but as a child I wanted to become one. Since I can not write novels least I tell stories through my cds. They so-called frozen in time the history of each song and handed down to posterity. I’m glad I recorded many CDs and have affected wonderful music that the public sometimes has known thanks to them.
What else have you made in the last two years?
Fortunately, despite the crisis in the music industry, I played so much live. I played for example in Paris (the Italian Institute of Culture), the legendary Vortex London, I gave a lecture at the International Guitar Research Conference, University of Surrey, I gave two concerts for the Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte di Montepulciano (the festival founded by Henze). I worked with several great musicians like John Russell, Machinefabriek, Steven Mackey, Andrzej Bauer and especially I started a nice adventure in duo (guitar and vibraphone) with Antonio Caggiano. I also published a collection of “Studies of Creativity” (by Edizioni Symphony and recorded in the CD attached by the excellent and close friend Leonardo De Marchi), based on timbre and formal research of the solo guitar.
What are your next projects?
I will play a concert in Germany (in a few days will play in Germany at the legendary festival of contemporary music ON Cologne) and keep concerts and master classes in Lucca for Cluster as TILT Ensemble’s member. Next year I plan other concerts and master classes around Italy and the United States and in the spring will start my new concert and educational project (of which I am the artistic director) focusing on New Music.
As for the discography, next year it will be released my new album for the famous label Mode Records of New York (focusing on American repertoire for electric guitar), a CD in collaboration with electronic musician Luca Sigurtà and I will work on a new project of “Complete Works” (top secret right now). My business will always be dedicated to the classical and electric guitar.