Interview with Arturo Tallini (December 2018)
Hello Arturo and welcome to the Blog Neuguitars, it’s been a while since our last chat … several things have happened in the meantime. Tell us about your last record “Rosso Improvviso” .. I seem to remember that this title was linked to a painting that you have at your house .. am I wrong?
Hi dear Andrea! Yes, in part it was linked, at least when I first thought of this name, to a painting I had at home. But even then the deep reason was linked to my love for Red and to the idea of improvisation that is quite present on the CD even if not in all the pieces explicitly, but, Doremi, in all the work implicitly; and then also a simple game with my previous CD, BLU … a kind of game with Kieslosky, so maybe a …White Disco will come, soon!
But, aside from the title, this CD is a bit like BLU: it fixes a point in my career, it’s a point and at the head, it’s a synthesis of my work of these years … and of my vision as musician: all linked by a thread (and we could say a rouge file), which comes from tradition. Bach opens and, in a certain sense, closes (through the piece of Pisati) the whole record. It is not a deference to the past but a saying: it makes no sense to talk about contemporary or ancient or romantic music, in short, the labels end up being convenient shortcuts for not thinking, not to listen to the open ears …. it exists only the music and the various ways in which man has built his languages that were affected and affected by historical cultural and philosophical events; and then there is our ear, our sound imagery, our personal culture: all things that contribute to building and clarifying and therefore our relationship with what we hear.
I believe I have witnessed, in a certain sense, the birth of this project. It was at the concert in Mestre, March 26, 2010, how much have your interpretations of the same music changed since?
Much, I think … starting with the Chaconne, which, if I think back then, was a bit of a draft of what it has become today; and today the harpsichord structure, the rather monumental idea born from the suggestion of listening to Leonhardt and Robert Hill, has taken shape over the years and has led to the version of the CD … as long as it lasts naturally! Because, as you rightly noted in your beautiful review, I think it’s part of me never to stop …
Berio, as you know, was not there then but it was a very thick addition to the project; Ginastera has increased his clarity, it seems to me: I realize that my execution makes clear the form, the language and, if I can afford (but yes, at my age I allow it …) does justice to the many readings incredibly far from score and the precise indications of the author, which reinforce the malpractice of a good part of the guitarists who think that the score is a land of conquest for their own narcissism: as an example the fourth time of the sonata, which, despite the metronome even double fixed by the author, turns into an expressionless series of ‘morse signals’ without anything of the precise rhythmic writing of the author.
And finally Pisati: Maurizio says that the piece is now ‘him’ in all its facets … I would say that the more difficult initially obstacle , enter and exit continuously from the Ciaccona to Pisati and vice versa, is now non-existent, indeed this diversity of languages has become the real engine of the piece. And then the novelty is that Pisati has made a version for my CD where I, through my iPad, travel through the score in a video that suggests the structure of the piece. About Maderna I want to talk separately ….
I remember that then you explained to me the “harpsichordistic” nature of your version of Bach’s Chaconne, then did you continued on that direction?
As I mentioned you, I went over; for a long time I listened to the harpsichord versions and when I felt that my imagination was rich enough I started improvising the embellishments and the added voices, turning around, changing, reducing … and then I continued working on the times, the breaths, and dynamics, always trying and always trying again improvising … it was an exciting job that made my chaconne perhaps a little “hypertrophy” in the ears of someone, but certainly mine … until, at a certain moment, I felt that the piece was ready and made sense to stop him in a recording.
The Bachian masterpiece is the stone guest of this CD: observing from the past, claiming its inexhaustible topicality; in my version I looked at the harpsichord and the monumentality that derives from that instrumental guise; in a sense, even here (as happens a bit throughout the CD) I tried to force the limits of the guitar, multiplying in some points the embellishments or extrapolating entries in my opinion implied. And even in my version of Bach’s masterpiece, improvisation has played an important part because, as I said, all the embellishments were born through a long improvisation practice which then crystallized in the recorded version.
How did Maurizio Pisati manage to transport Bach’s themes into the current world with his ChahaX? How was this piece born? I know it was written especially for you …
That’s right: in 2010 I met Maurizio in Milan and asked him for a piece that was based on improvisation and in which Bach’s Chaconne appeared; I already had in mind this idea of wanting to combine contemporary music with Bach, essentially what later became Rosso Improvviso
And he succeeded in the intent, as usual in a brilliant way: the fragments of the Chaconne indicated by him are only hints, fleeting ghosts …. and this leaves the interpreter free to enter and exit the Bachian masterpiece in a very elastic way . Moreover, even the figures suggested by Pisati are simple gestures, effects, also fleeting apparitions to be developed through improvisation. He thus found a way to unite two worlds that can talk to each other over the centuries. And the substratum of this dialogue is electronics, the third character of the story that surrounds, interlaces and suggests movements and sounds and acts as the glue of the various elements. In the record version (slightly different from before 2010) the score runs on a 3D video that becomes a sort of ‘intelligent “voltapagine” (pageturning) that calls me in the various points of the piece, leads me with its times: I am inside the score while I play and I follow her step by step interacting continuously.
Why did you choose to include the Berio Sequence XI in this repertoire?
As I also wrote in my notes it’s the idea that perhaps covers the entire CD and that of beyond: beyond the limits of the guitar, beyond the limits of the traditional score, beyond the phonic limits of our instrument: Here, right in this point fits the XI sequence of Berio very well. In fact, in this song we witness on one hand very lyrical moments (especially in the end of the song) and on the other in sections where the guitar, we could say, is really raped in phonic and technical terms with very demanding requests to the performer; above all it is imagined in a phonic environment between the piano and the fortissimo with 3 or 4 f really out of the usual and of the guitar tradition to which we are accustomed.
And the Sequence therefore, fits fully into the theme of the beyond; on the one hand the idea of going beyond the finished piece, which is what happens with improvisations in Maderna and Pisati; on the other, overcoming the phonic image and the limits considered as normal from an organological point of view, as in Maderna and, indeed, Berio.
And Bach? Bach is beyond the categories, besides ‘the specialized’ mental drawers in which we close the music, because without the Ciaccona this would have been a CD of contemporary music: but it is not, this is a CD of music, which tells the my story of the last 10 years and that wants to take stock of my work up to now.
Let’s talk about the “Serenata per un Satellite” by Maderna. Now it is a sort of your “trademark”, your stylistic element, a stimulus and a guide for improvisation ...
You’re right, the “Serenata per un Satellite” …. I think I have performed more than 200 times, and every time is new, it reserves me surprises, is the opportunity to discover a multimondo as I wrote on the Fronimo that will be released in January. It has been a huge job, which has developed over the years and that, in this last version, has also used technological means (very simple things in truth) to reveal itself a further possibility of reading. The “Serenata per un Satellite” is for me a masterpiece that, as such, goes beyond historical boundaries, is not tied to languages of this or that era: it is instead a gift that Maderna makes to performers, the public and music in general.
I feel that piece today absolutely mine, I studied, analyzed, played in all possible ways and yet … this summer, during the Guitar Campus of Trevi, at my concert, I did an incredibly different performance from the previous … of course , merit of a work on that piece that I do since 2005, but also a score that hides within itself dozens of possible versions. In this version I let myself get carried away by the technical means of the recording studio: so what’s on the cd will never be realized live … the CD must be bought by force!
Eight years, however, are many, why in the end you chose the EMA Vinci as your record company?
Two reasons: the first is that I did not have an immediate urgency to make a CD, I wanted to wait to feel like again, as it was in 2005 to ‘take stock’ of my professional life, and more.
But this maybe does not justify 8 years of waiting, and then we come to point 2: finally I found a record company that makes the record company, or investing on a project in which it believes. A record company that does not pretend, like all those, if I can afford it, asking the interpreter the Master already done, or buying 300 copies of the CD as a condition to do so. This means doing a job in which you do not believe, or rather load it all on the shoulders of the interpreter, who not only has to study and record, but also take charge of expenses …. EMA immediately seemed to me a very serious home I liked the things they do and what they did and it seemed to me that my proposal could interest them in itself. In fact it was, and the project started. I’m very happy to have worked with them: they’ve been in the studio for 5 days thinking only about music and talking about life with Giuseppe Scali and Marco Cardone, between a plate of spaghetti and a pizza, in a small village of Tuscany, Vinci, who was the background of this concentrated work.
What are your next projects? What are you working on?
Several: the most important is a work with and on Kurtag: I do not want to give it away for good luck, because it is perhaps the most important thing that I have done in my professional life ….
Then the development of my annual masterclass at the Praeneste Academy in Rome, which is becoming a nice project for many young people, also because it offers many concert possibilities also abroad, above all, even if not exclusively, for those who have completed their studies in the conservatory.
And then the preparation of a video project with my repertoire (and new pieces) with a strong gestural component (such as Ultima Rara for example) and the beginning of the collaboration with the Tonebase website.
Then I should also think about publishing my version of the Chaconne, who knows, maybe in another life …