#Interview with Ariel Elijovich (March 2016) on #neuguitars #blog

The first question is always the classic one: how does it start your love and interest for guitar and what instruments do you play or have you played?

Yes, I was born the child of musicians. My mother is a great argentinian pianist and my father is an excellent violinist. Both classical. So I was introduced to classical music even before being born. I had the chance to try out both instruments -violin and piano- very young, but I wasn’t hooked by them. Before I even considered the classical guitar I wanted to play electric guitar. So, my father said to study first classical guitar so that I could learn “properly”. I studied for one year and a half (till I was 9) and quit. I think I was really an annoyance to my teacher, Irma Costanzo. I never studied more than a couple of minutes per day. At thirteen I got my first electric guitar, a Mustang Fender ’69 (I still have it), and started learning jazz.

But at age 17 I thought I was much better knowing what I wanted from classical interpretation – I was brought up around very good performers playing all the great composers – than creating my own “language” and so I decided to return to the classical guitar. Regarding what it is that I love of guitar I must say first the qualities of its sound. I think that’s the definitive hook for anybody with any instrument: you have to love the sound you can produce. I love how the guitar sounds. I love the possibilities of the guitar to make beautiful sounds. And i also love the fact that there’s such a direct contact between the hands and the sounds. I have played as many instruments as i could get my hands on but always in a amateur way.

Let’s talk about you last record HIVERN FLORIT, you play music by Joaquín Turina, Angelo Gilardino, Reginald Smith Brindle, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Benjamin Britten and Manuel de Falla, why did you choose these composers and how?

Well, all of the pieces included in “Hivern Florit” have a lot to do with my history as a guitar player. Some of them, like “El Polifemo de oro”, I have performed in concerts on and off since I was a young student. “Polifemo” was in fact my first “contemporary, non tonal” piece. I consider these compositions some of the most important pages written for guitar from the 20th Century.

Britten’s Nocturnal is without doubt a milestone from the repertoire of all ages. A work so deep and poetic that deeply moved me from the first time I heard it. A work of art that, as the best art, confronts the performer and the public with the essence of life and death, love and despair, passion and grief. Turina’s Sonata is, in my opinion, one of the most important pieces from the spanish nationalism. I have studied or performed in concert all of Turina’s works and I feel very close to his style and language.

Villa-Lobos was, of course, another milestone for the guitar and, though the Suite Populaire itself is not considered by many one of his most important pieces, I think the different choros are some of the most classy literature for guitar ever written. So gracious and alive, so full of that mix between Brasil and Europe, and they present a good challenge to creativity. De Falla`s piece is, as the Nocturnal, a unique jam from an incredible composer. Two pages with such a descriptive power and such an amazing playfield for the exploration of the instrument.

I became acquainted with Gilardino’s Sonata nº2 in one of the summer courses I participated when i was living in Italy, studying with Angelo and Luigi Biscaldi between 1999 and 2006. I immediately fell in love with the piece. It’s a very complex work, full of color. I love Angelo’s music and he and Luigi are very important figures to me. I thought it was due to include this challenging and wonderful Sonata. In all, i recorded this compositions because i think i had something new or interesting or different to say with each of them. Sometimes tempos are really different from other version, sometimes it’s a matter of left hand fingerings producing a complete different phrasing. I did a good search within to understand what it was that i wanted to say and that’s how “Hivern Florit” came to existence. This is my first solo CD so i thought it had to feature music that has been really meaningful to me. This is dedicated to all my teachers, Irma Costanzo, Eduardo Isaac, Luigi Biscaldi and Angelo Gilardino .

You are a member of Nuntempe Ensamble devoted to contemporary music, how is going with the quartet? Your record “”String Machine” was a great record, can you tell us about it?

We are doing really well, thanks! Nuntempe Ensamble is “one of a kind” in Argentina and one of the few quartets of Latinamerica dedicated exclusively to contemporary music. We actively and constantly comission composers for new works. Mostly latinoamerican composers but not only. Of course we also play already written works that we consider important (like Haas, Oehring, Furrer and many other works, not only quartets) but mostly we like to enlarge the “repertoire” with new pieces. “String Machine” was our second Cd but the first one following this “manifest”. In that Cd we featured one early work by Eblis Alvarez, a colombian sensational composer nowadays in NY dedicated to psychedelic minimalism, and four works by argentinian composers, all of them first recordings and dedicated to us. Nowadays we are seriously planning for our third Cd. We have a lot of new material, both for electric and for classical guitars and we look forward to getting to the studio and record. Some of the new composers we have been working with are Juan Carlos Tolosa, Franco Bridarolli, Diego Taranto, Sebastian Pozzi Azzaro, Cecilia Pereyra (with a second piece), Pablo Ortiz, Tomás Gueglio, Javier Bravo, Arthur Kampela, We are looking for a chance to tour outside of Argentina, if anyone is interested!

What does improvisation mean for your music research? Do you think it’s possible to talk about improvisation for classical music or we have to turn to other repertories like jazz, contemporary music, etc.?

Well, you know that there are two types of classical music performers. The ones that are fully committed to the idea of the text and the ones that like to “go with the flow”. Benedetto Michelangeli would, maybe, be the first type, rehearsing each passage until it sounds exactly “as it should” and Martha Argerich on the other extreme, with tempestive and fresh interpretations of a piece every time and again. I think improvisation during the study of one piece is a great idea. Improvisation is the constant exploring of new boundries and as such it’s a “must do” for anybody in the path of trying to become a good musician. But i also think for me it works well then to choose, among such explorations, the things that i feel render the most the beauty of the piece, that convey in the best way possible exactly what i think the piece means. Of course there’s a little improvisation always because you always have to feel the mood and poetry of the moment when you play in concert. But mostly i leave improvisation to the creative moment of studying. Improvisations also have a good deal of importance for me when trying to solve some technical difficulty. To use the passage where the difficulty lies as a “motiv” for improviation allows you to fully grow a control over the passage. When playing contemporary music, improvisation is many times required by the compositions themselves but, more importantly in chamber music, the improvisations need to have clear rules (given by the composer or set by yourself) unless you are going for something really chaotic or spontaneous. It does require a full and present listening of what’s happening, and the abillity to react instantly so, it’s a great practice for all of us.

What’s the role of the “Error” in your musical vision? For “error” I mean an incorrect procedure, an irregularity in the normal operation of a mechanism, a discontinuity on an otherwise uniform surface that can lead to new developments and unexpected surprises...

The error is something that usually everybody tries to avoid and generally sweep under the carpet when it happends. I try to reduce errors as much as possible because i think they get in the way of the musical speech but they are bound to happend while studying and in performance. While studying it’s great to have a mistake, because every mistake carries the information for it’s own solution. It’s a great intellectual game to try to understand all the information that a mistake can offer to you in order to solve something and became a better player. While i’m performing, well… i’m human. I prefer to take risks with my performances and that doesn’t make it easy. But mostly, i think, when you put all of yourself in every note the little things that may happend go mostly undetected for the public. You always aim for something but also, it’s a part of life to accept that which happends and make the most of it.

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 good promoters of themselves and their works in music today?

well, i never was really good at that. I know it’s important.I do like very much to share my work because it’s what i do best. I don’t think it’s really a goal to set for yourself to become “known”. I’ll always try to do the best music i can and share it in all the ways available to me (social media wise), without having to change the person i am. I don’t believe in playing the “catchy repertoire” or dressing in a special way. There’s a lot of people playing really well today and i’m glad for that. And we all do it because it’s fun, it’s a growing experience, it allows you to enjoy the world in a special way that few people can these days. I mean, playing music is the best reward in itself. If you have the chance to play for bigger audiences each time, that’s great. But mostly i get to know people, like you, and share and learn from the others. I saw you interviewedElliot Simpson not long ago. Amazing player! He was in Argentina a few months back and I organized a small concert and a masterclass for him at my place which was excelent and we had wonderful talks and evenings and dinners. So that’s what music is about for me. I’m not a child prodigy, i’m not a multiple contest winner. I’m an honest musician trying to share everything i know with those who want to listen. I’m glad for every opportunity i have to do that.

Please tell us five essential records, to have always with you .. the classic five discs for the desert island

All genres? That’s difficult… i guess one would be Martha Argerich, I have a 4 disc CDcase with Piano Concertos including Ravel, Prokovief, Schumann, Chopin and more (That’s one. I hope it’s not cheating). The second one would be Yes – Close to the Edge. It’s one of the albums from my childhood i’m really attached to it. Really a YES fan! I have a Borodin quartet record with all Tchaikovsky quartets for strings plus Souvenir de Florence, which is a piece that i love. Also Verklärte Nacht by Shönberg. I have a nice version by the Julliard SQ and that’s four so i guess the last should be either the White Album by the Beatles or some jazz like EST (Esbjorn Svenson Trio) or maybe some Gismonti. It’s really difficult to say. Mahler’s Lied von Erde also would make a good fight for it’s place in my sack

What are your five favorite scores?

This is also a very difficult question to answer. In a way, my favorite scores are the ones that i recorded in “Hivern Florit”. But favorite scores also involving chamber music,… i had the amazing opportunity to play in “Index of Metals” by Fausto Romitelli two years ago and it instantly became a favorite. I also loved to be a part of “les Espaces Acoustiques” of Gerard Grisey. Haas’ guitar quartet is a piece that i found extremely interesting to play and study. Lachenmann’s “Salut fur Cadwell”. There’s a lot of music in the horizon…!!

With who would you like to play? What kind of music do you listen to usually?

I listen everything that comes at hand. I like to listen to my collegues and discover new pieces or ways of playing. I love listening contemporary or experimental music. I also listen a lot of chamber music, jazz, rock from the 70s and 80s. Though, there are also times i don’t want to listen to anything. Just a little time of silence.

With whom I’d like to play… I don’t know if I understand correctly the question. If i have a sort of “hero” I’d love to play with?… maybe that would be Julian Bream. Otherwise, I enjoy playing with as many good musicians as i can. I think it’s part of the process of sharing and learning. You never know who you are gonna end up playing with next year! That’s part of the beauty of it! I have to say that i love playing with Nuntempe, which is a source of continuos learning and i hope it’ll go on for many years, but i also had a lot of fun playing with Leandro Savelón, a jazz drummer for his Cd “Cebador” and i’m open to all kind of musical experiences involving interesting music.

Your next projects?

Besides recording the third Cd with Nuntempe, i would really like to tour the USA and Europe with “Hivern Florit”. It’s a project for the next two years i’m already working on. Going back to Italy to play has been a well kept desire for many years now. I am also working on some new solo repertoire and we have to get together with Sergio Catalán, a really outstanding argentinian flute player to put together a set of pieces including Takemitsu, Haug, Gandini and more. On the other side, i have been teaching in many courses and festivals in Argentina and i’m looking forward to continuing that activity and maybe extending it to other countries in Latinamerica and further, I also have to collect all the writtings regarding techinique, interpretation and learning i have been sharing in my blog for the past three years. I have to add some of my most recent discoveries, order and complete them and then a new book about playing the guitar will emerge.  

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