Interview with Sergio Sorrentino (July 2018)
Dear Sergio, welcome back to the blog Neuguitars, the last time we spoke here on the blog was on the occasion of your great cd dedicated entirely to Sylvano Bussotti … if I remember correctly it was a great success of criticism but also of sales, is it true?
Hi Andrea, it’s always a pleasure for me…Yes, my Bussotti CD had a lot of great reviews and very good sales. I’m very glad for this…recording that CD entailed a great study of the compositions. I had to learn a particular way of playing. Bussotti writes for guitar in a very “theatrical” way… the most important thing for me was to be able to study the compositions directly with Bussotti. An unforgettable experience…
And after that you went looking for a new project, how did start the idea of this new CD “Dream American Music for Electric Guitar” and how did you manage to propose it to Mode Records?
Since 2012 I have focused a lot on the research of the concert music for electric guitar. I began to request new pieces and Concertos to a lot of great composers (among them Van Stiefel, Azio Corghi, Stefano Taglietti and others) and to play those pieces in world premiere. As part of my research I fell in love with the American repertoire for electric guitar…that’s why I decided to dedicate an entire CD to American masterpieces for my instrument. I sent a demo to Mode and the owner, Brian Brandt, was immediately enthusiastic. His advice has been invaluable and I am very grateful to him for the management of the release. We met in person in Cologne, Brian knowing that I was in town to play at the ON Koln Festival, he came to my concert. It was a beautiful meeting and a good relationship was born of great mutual respect. Maybe our collaboration will be repeated in the future, there are various ideas that I hope will come soon…
Personally I was very happy with the choice of the repertoire, seven track about ten are “first recording” and then the recording of the song by Morton Feldman, rediscovered and reconstructed by Seth Josel, tell us a little about the history of this rediscovery …
I chose the pieces very carefully, all with the common characteristic of investigating the most intimate sound of the electric guitar. Feldman’s song has a strange story … the only manuscript was stolen along with the car of the piece’s dedicatee (Christian Wolff). In recent years, Seth Josel has reconstructed the piece comparing a manuscript sketch by Feldman and the Wolff’s radio recordings. I really love this piece, simple only in appearance, but very difficult to make the best. The piece, dated 1966, is a perfect testimony of the musical relationship between Feldman and Wolff (as an experimental guitarist in this case) and of the sonic research of the New York School. I’m very fond of the other World Premiere Recordings on the CD too: “Going West” by Christian Wolff, the new Alvin Curran piece, the Polansky duo, and especially the pieces composed by my good friends Elliott Sharp, Van Stiefel and Jack Vees.
With what guitars did you play on the record and what pedals and effects?
I played my Fender Stratocaster (Eric Clapton Signature) into a Roland Jazz Chorus and a Fender Deluxe. I used a Leslie analogue pedal. Reverb and Delay they are effects from Logic. I also played a Fender Jazz Bass. In Sharp’s “Mare Undarum” I plugged my Strat directly into the audio interface. I wanted the purest sound from the strings and pick-up, to emphasize the objects and the extended techniques.
What is the role of error in your musical vision?
Mistakes allow me to get new creations. Anyway, I hope to make as few mistakes as possible! 😀
And what is the function of a moment of crisis? I ask you also given the particular political and economic moment we are experiencing …
It allows us to resist millions of difficulties, and at the same time to be more creative and constant. For me the important thing is not to give up and continue my personal research without compromising neither aesthetic nor commercial
What are your next projects? What are you working on?
I have just finished a concert tour in duo and ensemble with the great Gavin Bryars. With him there will soon be other more and more exciting projects … As for the concerts I will play as a soloist at the International Guitar Festival of Lagonegro, at Nuova Consonanza Festival and other concerts in Italy and abroad, also in duo with Elliott Sharp. As for the recordings I will release in August a CD together with the electronic musician Luca Sigurtà (on the American label Flag Day Recordings) and in Autumn some other solo CDs on the Italian label Sconfinarte (a CD based on electric guitar pieces dedicated to me by Italian composers) and on the UK label RMN Classical. I will also publish soon my book about the electric guitar concert repertoire. It will includes several interviews with great composers like Bryars, Lang, Frith, Chatham, Barrett and others.
Last question: a few years ago, during an interview with Bill Milkowski for his book “Rockers, Jazzbos and Visionaries” Carlos Santana said, “Some people have talent, some people have vision. And vision is more important then talent, obviously.” I think all of you have a great talent, but … what is your personal vision?
I like to imagine my vision characterized by color stains, which follow each other more and more clear and complex, wider and always more beautiful (I hope…), to form the framework of my musical research, and therefore of my life