Tribute to Alvaro Company, the right tribute to a great musician on #neuguitars #blog
Alvaro Company was, and I believe still is, an important figure in the field of Italian classical guitar and in the wider and more composite world of contemporary music. I think a short biography is certainly helpful to frame his multiple figures as a musician, composer, teacher and reference point for the world of classical guitar. A musician, who in aesthetics and teaching, was able to follow first and then free himself from the cumbersome figure of Segovia, knowing how to find his own, original, personal artistic path, unfortunately held back by health problems in the concert field.
Alvaro Company (Florence) studied composition at the “L. Cherubini ”in Florence with R. Cicionesi., L. Dallapiccola, P. Fragapane, V. Frazzi and C. Prosperi, obtaining diplomas in Choral Music and Composition (1955/56). Student guitarist of Andrés Segovia – at the Chigiana Academy from 1950 to ’54 – he founded the Classical Guitar Course at the Conservatory of Florence in 1960, where he taught until 1997; in 1965 he founded the same course at the Liceo Musicale “O. Vecchi ”of Modena; in ’61 he taught at the “C. Monteverdi “in Bolzano and in 1967 he was a teacher at the Conservatory of” S. Cecilia ”in Rome. From 1957 he undertook an intense concert activity, also collaborating with soloists and chamber ensembles of international fame (such as the violist D. Asciolla, the flutist S. Gazzelloni, the oboist L. Faber, the timpanist L. Torrebruno, the Soloists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Soloists of La Scala, the Venetian Soloists) as well as with various conductors (including P. Bellugi, L. Berio. HW Henze, B. Maderna, G. Otvos). This activity lasted until the 1970s, when a nerve injury to his right arm forced him to stop, with the exception of five concerts held in January 1973 at the Teatro alla Scala, at the invitation of the director B. Maderna. In addition to the Scala, he has performed in important theaters such as, in Rome, at the Eliseo Theater and the Foro Italico, in Florence at the Teatro Comunale and at the Pergola, in Naples at the Auditorium della Scarlatti, in Venice at the Fenice. Since 1968 he has held advanced courses at Italian and foreign universities.
The research and experience as a guitarist, pedagogue, composer (as well as a reviewer of modern works for guitar and the historical repertoire for guitar and lute) allowed him to broadly enrich his technique, as well as to develop a personal didactic for the instrument. He also devised an executive methodology aimed at instrumentalists in general, to which he gave the name of “musical biodynamics”. As a composer his sound world, born from atonal roots since the “Fantasia” op. 1 for piano from 1948, had already adopted the twelve-tone technique from Op. 3 (“Prelude and Saraband” for violin and piano dated ’53), proceeding in this sense up to “Las Seis Cuerdas” op. 8 for guitar dated ’63 – a work that represents the meeting point of his interests as a composer and instrumentalist and which has opened new avenues for the modern instrumental technique of the guitar. At the same time, an educational collateral production also began in the 1960s, still in progress. Since 1974 his language has undergone a progressive transformation, in which modalities, melisma, tonality, atonality and seriality reappear, yes, but in a transfigured dimension, which allows all these aspects to coexist in a language where they emerge, as from a submerged world , archaeological traces dreamily transfigured.
He is a member of the L. Cherubini National Academy in Florence. In 1991 a commission composed of C. Abbado, S. Accardo, G. Gavazzeni, CM Giulini, R. Muti, M. Pollini – as well as the greatest Italian critics – and chaired by G. Petrassi, awarded him the “Massimo Mila ”“ for the exemplary didactic commitment of a lifetime ”. In ’96 at the First National Guitar Convention in Pesaro he was awarded the “Chitarra d’oro” for teaching and in ’99, on the occasion of the IV National Guitar Convention in Alessandria, he was awarded the “Chitarra d’oro” for the Composition. In 2010 he was awarded the “Chitarra d’oro – Una vita per la chitarra”.
I therefore find it necessary and due to the heartfelt CD “Tribute to Alvaro Company” (EmaVinci, 2018) whose purchase stimulated me to write this post about the Maestro. This CD pays homage to his skills as a refined and avant-garde composer, spanning his long career. A tribute, a choral CD, made by many of his former students who wanted to honor his stature as a musician with a brilliant collection of his works for guitar: they are Alfonso Borghese, Flavio Cucchi, Nuccio D’Angelo, Ganesh Del Vescovo, Roberto Frosali, Silvano Mazzoni, Vincenzo Saldarelli.
Fourteen are the pieces present and selected here starting from Ballo per il Barone di Casalotto (1991) and the Notturno (1986), performed by Alfonso Borghese. Pieces characterized by a contrapuntal vision, aimed at enhancing the palette of colors available to the guitar.
Flavio Cucchi interprets Suite for Flavio (1991), an opera in 3 movements (Le campanelle in letizia, Exotique and Pulsating) which belongs to the same period of time as the previous pieces and was inspired by itself.
Maestro Nuccio D’Angelo performs the “Suite ritrovata”, a piece written between 1999 and 2011, also composed of three movements: Metamorfosi, Die Welt von Gestern and Hinting at a Sarcastic waltz. Suite inspired by the Vienna of G. Mahler.
Ganesh del Vescovo is the dedicatee of A new Ballad, a work of 2011 and also performs Las Seis Cuerdas, one of Company’s first works and perhaps the best known. Opera characterized by the exploration of the timbre possibilities of the guitar, where the interpreter plays its strings with a very long series of touches, angles, echoes, more or less defined percussion techniques.
A new Ballad was born from a small and much earlier work called Piccolo Jazz, inspired by Duke Ellington, a piece of jazz origin, almost improvisational in nature.
Silvano Mazzoni is the interpreter of Anima Fluens (1991), a musical miniature with more traditional and relaxed characteristics.
Vincenzo Saldarelli performs “Corni da Caccia” (1999), dedicated to him, where the references are in the sound of Beethoven’s horns, where the guitar is brought into its low registers and where the interpreter must play with only the use of the thumb, another example of Company’s contrapuntal skills.
Saldarelli, Borghese and Roberto Frosali will join as Italian Guitar Trio for the last piece: Fuga a Tre Guitarre (1999) expressly dedicated to them.
Another precious tribute is the Fugato dalla Suite n.1 by the eighteenth-century musician G.B.Marella, it’s a recording madein the 60’s in which we can listen to Company himself playing together with Paolo Paolini. This cd is a more than worthy operation. Highly recommended for those who want to explore a repertoire that has rarely been interpreted and offered to the public.
This post also wants to be a greeting and a sign of deep esteem for Maestro Alfonso Borghese, who left us suddenly on January 30, 2020. Great interpreter, composer and teacher, passionate, curious and cultured musician.
Paolo Somigli, La Schola Fiorentina, Nardini Editore, 2011
Giovanni Cifariello, Alvaro Company La chitarra in Italia nel Novecento, Libreria Musicale Italiana Editrice, 1999