When the “contemporary” becomes “classic” in the guitars of Flavio Nati and Andrea Dieci: “Toru Takemitsu complete works & transcription for solo guitar” and “English guitar music of the 20th Century” on #neuguitars #blog
Some time ago I talked about the concept of “classic” about Henry Kaiser’s beautiful double CD dedicated to the music of John Coltrane. In that post I openly quoted JL Borges writing as “classic is that book that a nation or group of nations has long since decided to read as if in its pages it was all deliberate, fatal, profound as the cosmos and capable of endless interpretations. . ” Thinking about it, the “classic” is not simply a concept, but a category with very broad and blurred boundaries, as it has in its DNA the ability to be assimilated into a shared culture. For example, if we talk about classical music we are certainly talking about cultured music, but also about a music that has had enough weight to deeply dig into the collective imagination of every social class. When do contemporary music pieces become classics? When does a composer become a classic? When do they become historical examples, cultural roots? It is not just a change of etymological step, but also a semantic one. It is a change of perspective.
These reflections arose spontaneously listening to the two CDs covered by this post: “Toru Takemitsu complete works & transcription for solo guitar” played by Flavio Nati, produced by the independent label Stradivarius in 2020 and the brand new “English guitar music of the 20th Century”, performed by Andrea Dieci, for Brilliant Classics in 2021.
Both records draw on a well-established repertoire, not only in terms of record editions, but also in terms of musical teaching; until a few years ago, however, this was not the case. The repertoire of a contemporary nature was viewed with suspicion in the conservatories and was the object of study and performance by a few specialist interpreters. I make a premise: both records are two excellent works, which I highly recommend you get if you have any interest in classical guitar. Both performances are of excellent quality, as are the level of the recordings and the sound performance of the Cds.
I would start from Andrea Dieci’s cd, in my discoteque so far similarly there was only the beautiful collection “British Guitar Music” by Graham Anthony Devine, produced in 2005 for Naxos. Dieci’s cd seems to me a step forward both in terms of sound quality and repertoire: compared to the Devine edition it contains, in fact, not only the “Quatre Pieces pour la guitare”, the “Sonatina for Guitar op 52/1” and “Theme and Variations for Guitars op 77” by Lennox Berkeley, William Walton’s “Five Bagatelles”, but also Cyrill Scott’s “Sonatina for Guitar” and above all Benjamin Britten’s “Nocturnal after John Dowland for Guitar op 70” , which had been excluded, inexplicably, from the Naxos’s collection. Dieci is now a seasoned and confident professional, an interpreter of undisputed qualities, who will not fail to excite you even with this repertoire, as I am sure you will find interesting the comments of Leonardo De Marchi, author of the texts of the CD’s leaflet.
You will discover a very emotional Takemitsu in the strings of Flavio Nati’s guitar. The repertoire is now well known and consolidated: “A piece for guitar” composed as a birthday present for Sylvano Bussotti, “All in Twilight”, “Folios”, “Equinox”, “In the Woods”, the “Twelve Songs for Guitar ”and“ The Last Waltz ”. Also in this case we are faced with a well known and consolidated repertoire, also in this case the hand of the interpreter becomes fundamental in being able to add something to an already existing narration. Nati cannot count on Andrea Dieci’s experience, but he still manages to make this cd ‘his own’ Takemitsu, creating a work that frees him from the dependence of those who had already played these pieces before. Here, in fact, we are faced with an example of how from a certain conception we can pass to another. The previous language remains, but, both for the interpreter and for the listener, it assumes the role of a metaphor. To quote Gramsci: “language is a living thing and at the same time it is a museum of fossils of the past life”. I believe that this also applies to music, and if language is a metaphor then the history of its semantics, of musical semantics, is also an aspect of the history of culture. This is why I love monographs, because the listener is given the opportunity to have a broader picture not only of a composer’s music, but also of the ways in which an interpreter reads his music. Each time it is as if we peek over the left shoulder of those who are helping us to understand and penetrate a creative world, and to read it with new eyes and ears.
If Borges tells us how “classic is that book that a nation or a group of nations have long since decided to read as if in its pages it was all deliberate, fatal, deep as the cosmos and capable of endless interpretations.” Then I insist. Classic is a book, a score, a record that generations of men, driven by various reasons, continue to read, play, listen with new fervor and a mysterious loyalty. For this to happen, however, we need interpreters who know how to filter, translate, innovate, renew. The composer has done his job. Others will read his works, add or subtract something, give a pinch of speed to the rhythm, slow it down according to their mood, their temperament, their sensitivity. And we will only have to listen, understand and rejoice.