Interview with Gabriele Zanetti (November 2018)
Hi Gabriele, welcome to the Neuguitars blog, how did start your interest for the guitar?
Thanks Andrea. My interest in music has been there since I remember. As for the guitar, the infatuation has blossomed when I was 13 with the first listening to “Bright size life” by Pat Metheny: it was an electrocution that forced me toward the six strings and since then I have never left them.
What studies did you do and what is your musical background?
I graduated in classical guitar but my training took place outside the conservatory classrooms. I played for years in a plectrum orchestra, with which we recorded records and toured: in that environment that I received my true training as a “classical” musician. At the same time I was in the board of directors of an association that organized an important acoustic guitar festival: thanks to this experience I came in contact with almost all the most important exponents of the sector. It has been enriching from all points of view: I have never borne too much stylistic and mental barriers. I play the classical, acoustic and electric guitar indifferently.
With what guitars do you play and with whom did you play?
I have always cuddled myself very well. As for the classical guitar I think I found the right instrument for me: it is a latex-braced masterpiece made by the Australian violin maker Kim Lissarrague. I had Bernabe, Lovadina, Contreras, Conde Hermanos but I am attracted to innovative construction solutions. I also own a mid-nineteenth-century Spanish guitar with which I play the appropriate repertoire and also the guitar that belonged to Eddie Freeman. As for the electric, I had the great names of the world’s stringed instruments such as PRS Private Stock, Suhr, Tom Anderson, Melancon, Grosh. Now I use the Variax guitar of Line6 with which you can emulate dozens of instruments: I find it very versatile and surprisingly cheap.
How did start the idea of such a particular record as “Deconstructing Dowland” and why did you choose Da Vinci Classics as a label to produce it?
Deconstructing Dowland represents an integral view on the interpenetration between pure sound and mechanical-electronic interaction in the musical field referred to compositions for saxophone and guitar. Over time I have contacted dozens of composers who have sent me many unpublished scores: from a skimming lasting about 2 years we have selected the compositions that better respond to the organicity of the proposal that we had set ourselves and the desire to perform original works written for our instruments.
How long have you known Lorenzo Ricchelli? The sax-guitar duo is not very usual … even in the world of contemporary music …
Lorenzo and I met the summer of 2017: we both participated (me as a banjoist) in a production that allowed us to spend a few days together. Inevitably our common interest in contemporary art music has emerged. Lorenzo is an incredibly gifted saxophonist who plays with all the major orchestral ensembles and in numerous contemporary music festivals. He has won dozens of international chamber music competitions and is an extremely curious and competent person. We set ourselves the goal of making a serious investigation into the small original repertoire for our instruments with the additional clause that served our purpose. The result of our research is conveyed in the Deconstructing Dowland. DaVinci is, in my opinion, the most serious label in circulation in recent years: founded in 2015 by musicologist Edmondo Filippini, it has produced the average of 15 records per month and has gained credibility and prestige internationally in a short time . When we submitted the master to the artistic director, although I had already published a record with them and “recommended” several other artists, we were not very hopeful about the possible wedding. DaVinci, on the other hand, appreciated the courage and the organic nature of the proposal, demonstrating that he supported contemporary music in a very concrete way. The catalog of new scores and record releases speaks for itself.
How did you choose the music for the record?
The selection process lasted about two years: the actual choice of the tracklist is only the result of a vision that has been delineating as Lorenzo and I penetrated the idea of Deconstruction, which represents the leitmotiv of our artistic proposal (not only music). The concept of avant-garde is often unsuccessful in its generality, because it does not say anything else except in the work of art any matter must be mediated and not simply present. We did not care whether the proposed music was avant-garde or not: we were interested in helping us to define the concept of deconstruction. Specifically, we tried to deconstruct various aspects: from the musical form to the use of the technique, to the investigation of the meaning of sound itself. In deconstruction all that traditionally is paralinguistic is concentrated, in this way the form is transformed into the antithesis of the form, and becomes the melancholy of the artists in which it predominates. Anyone who hurts against formalism, or against the fact that art is art, calls into question an now anachronistic humanity. We have tried to make relativity re-emerge through the deconstruction of the belief that there is only one truth: there are latent, far more numerous.
If you listen to a different interpretation of a score that you have already played and which you want to perform, do you keep in mind this listening or do you prefer to proceed in total independence?
I proceed in total independence also because I rarely happen to play music that is part of the traditional guitar repertoire. I totally transcribe the transcriptions on the guitar and I’m dedicated to reading and recording unpublished repertoire: this intrigues me a lot and gives me real satisfaction. I deal with research in the most sparkling sense: I published some unpublished scores also by important authors, I write, I read, but I rarely find myself interested in guitars and guitarists. I make an exception for the guitarist Cristiano Porqueddu: his artistic trajectory is simply a model to follow.
What meaning does improvisation have in your musical research? Can we go back to talking about improvisation in a repertoire so codified as the classical one or do we have to go out and turn to other repertoires, jazz, contemporary, etc?
I am, alas, very attached to the written sign. Sometimes I pretend to be a jazzman due to work necessities, but it is an easily readable light mask. I recorded a record with a great jazz player like Guido Bombardieri, in which we played with the South American classical music, and I felt helpless compared to the ease with which he knew how to appropriate the musical content. Responding to your question “NO, you do not necessarily have to turn to the other repertoire”: I sometimes played baroque music, in which improvisation plays a central role, or having to insert a cadence in a chamber music concert: getting out of the written page is one of the aspects I’ve been trying to work on for years.
What is the role of error in your musical vision?
We live together every day: I’m anything but a perfectionist. I want to feel humanity in music: perfection does not suit me. I know many people who spend their life with the terror of performing because they never feel ready: I have been educated in error because it is part of life. In a plectrum orchestra (the equivalent of the band for wind instruments) I played for years alongside people who did not practice as musicians, but also in prestigious halls and festivals in which I could never have come as a solo guitarist. The truth is that by accepting your limits you grow much faster and healthier.
Please recommend us five essential discs for you, to always have with you .. the classic five discs for the desert island …..
Richard Strauss: Vier Letze Lieder / Metamorphosis – Karajan
Charlie Parker: Yardbird
Beethoven: Symphony 9 – Klemperer
Dream Theater: Scenes from a Memory
Any Pat Metheny’ record (except Zero Tolerance for Silence … that does not suit me)
What are your next projects? What are you working on?
I’m finishing a record on the unpublished music of Margola with relative publication of the scores. I am planning a recording project dedicated to Paganini. I am also working on the writing of an essay on the influence of the guitar in American music of the late nineteenth century. I’m also planning my winter holidays. =)
Thanks for your time and attention.