Interview with Nicola Montella
How did the idea for your cd Sonata and why the choice of “dotGuitar”?
My intention was the production of a CD that would allow me to compare myself with the different musical styles that have characterized part of the guitar repertoire from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. This work reproduces a series of passages called Sonata by their composers, even if, in substance, they do not respect the canonical rules of the traditional sonata. The idea, therefore, is to be found in the oldest sense of this word, which spread from the sixteenth century., The music “to play” in opposition to a music “to sing.” Not surprisingly, the micro-selected works should be considered, rather than around an intellectual speculation and pure music, around a clear gesture: the act of playing, that is, the main reason for be, if not the only one.
Talking about the production with «dotGuitar”, it’s derived from the prize I won in a competition in Belgium, where the magazine offered a chance to make a record under its own brand; label with which affected Italian international guitarists such as Aniello Desiderio, Giampaolo Bandini, Alberto Mesirca, Andrea De Vitis.
When did you start to play guitar and why?
Guitar has always enjoyed great attention in my family, even by listening to it live or by recordings; Therefore, as a child, I could appreciate the colors, the tone and strength that the instrument emanates from the inside; hence the initial curiosity to be able to play sounds from the instrument, to get to consider the guitar as an integral part of my life, the way I express myself, to communicate …
What did you study and what is your musical background?
I attended Classical Liceo and then I continued my studies in the Conservatory to obtain this guitar’ s diploma. Subsequently, I received a Master degree qualifying for teaching musical instrument (guitar) and a Specialist degree in musical disciplines to interpretation and composition address in Guitar. My cultural background is resolved, then, in the 22 years dedicated to music and classical guitar in particular (I started almost eight years to the study of the instrument), with a fondness for the music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
With that guitar do you play and with what have you played?
I started with a Giussani, with cedar boards, to move to a Marseglia, always in cedar, and for about a year I’m playing a Paco Marin, with spruce top, model 40 anniversary especial.
I saw that you recently won several first prizes at international competitions .. where did you play?
Referring to the latest performances I attended, last December, the International Guitar Festival Pleven, Bulgaria and the International Guitar Festival Guimarães, Portugal, achieving in both events the first prize in the category of concert artists.Iin 2016, I performed in concert, as well as in Italy, also in Romania, Belgium, Austria, Spain, China and America.
Talking about records, can you tell us your favourite five discs? The records you always want to have with you… the classic five discs for the desert island …
Five are few. I don’t wanto to hurt anyone, so I would recommend that you keep on hand the reproductions that will help us to not to forget the pain of life, and the strength that humanity has been able to find to solve or at least deal with it, namely: a Bethoven’s record and the other ones from the great innovators before him, therefore, a record by Bach and one by Mozart, one of our Giuseppe Verdi and finally a disc of one of the great contemporary guitarists.
If you listen to a different interpretation of a passage you have already played or you want to perform, do you take care of this listening or do you prefer to proceed in complete independence?
I always pay a lot of attention and I listen to with great interest the musicians who engage themselves in interpretations of the scores, not just guitar, learning a lot from their jobs. My path, however, follows, at least in my intention, the objective of respecting as much as possible the author’s will, seeking to understand the basis of criteria philological text, in an attempt to be able to play the intentions and contexts in which the scores were written. The originality comes out, I think, from this research’s work on the passages and their authors, because in the end, symbiotically, the interpreter’s personality will merge with the composer’s one.
I sometimes feel that in our time the music’s history flows with no particular interest in its chronological course, in our disco-music library before and after, the past and the future become interchangeable elements, could this be risk for an interpreter and a composer of a uniform vision? A musical “globalization”?
That’s why I think it’s important to approach the study and interpretation of musical scores following a philological criteria. In this way, it will be possible to reconstruct the correct execution of these works. This method also allows you to broaden and deepen, through the study of texts and documents, knowledge of a civilization and a culture of which the authors are witnesses. In this way, you can avoid the flattening you were talking about, despite the difficulties that such a study implies. If you consider, then, that freedom is the daughter of knowledge, I believe that in the musical work as you progress in the deepening of the setting of a social-historical composer, best embodies the spirit and the ideas that have generated certain works. Hence also the awareness of being able to bring the scores with a free spirit, free from influences that have nothing to do with the compositions that face. Only then, it will be possible that your spirit interacts with that of the composer, transferring the acquired knowledge in the interpretation, but also their character, their sensitivity and their own way of being. According to these criteria, I do not think we can risk a musical globalization.
What are your next projects? What are you working on?
As happens to many performers and musicians, there are many projects that I would intentionally create; often, however, I have to study to expand my concert repertoire. It remains my intention to dedicate a CD to Napoléon Coste, who, particularly, I’m passionate in his stylistic elegance, inside a renewed romance, which is expressed in the refinement of delicate sounds and harmonies in a particular composition, approaching, for in many respects, to the music of Chopin and Liszt, in opposition to the great symphonies that held sway. I’d also affect a part of the musical repertoire for guitar and violin, to be realized with my brother Andrea, a talented violinist and original.