I must confess that I’m very intrigued about your Panormo guitar that you have played in Chances for Changes for the tracks of Riley. I remember an interview with Uto Ughi where he spoke about his Stradivari considering himself like the last "guardian" of the instrument beyond the time and the simple concept of bare property, would you please tell us something about this guitar? His story, how it came into your hands ...
Meeting such a guitar has been such a lucky experience. Lucio Antonio Carbone, a maker of great experience working in his laboratory in Milan, has found this Panormo during a trip to England. As always not all the Panormo guitars yet in circulation are the same and equal value, even for the damage of time. I have tried it before restoration, and I have heard that it had that sound and particular sustain. Despite of the years, it was a very lively instrument, with a warm voice, ready to vibrate just calling. During the restoration, with the replacement of chains and other operations, it has been reported to an ideal balance and it was in England, in Manchester and Liverpool, which this guitar came back again playing for the first time in public in my hands.
I was very impressed by the disc devoted to the music by Henze, the result of your collaboration with Jürgen Ruck, a collaboration that continues from 1990. Would you please tell us something about and maybe tell us any new musical development about?
Over the years I have had the great fortune of playing with many musicians of great value. I met Jürgen at Ferienkursen für Neue Musik in Darmstadt in 1988, I had met him before during the experience of the summer masterclass of Oscar Ghiglia, and there we discovered a common passion for New Music. So we starter with the idea to create a duo dedicated mainly to this repertoire, commissioning and running premiered works by composers with whom we were in contact. We then also found alongside playing contemporary works which included two guitars in their orchestral, with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Deutsche Symphonie Orchester. We had great experiences with great conductors such as * Heinz Holliger, Kent Nagano and Claudio Abbado, who along with concerts in duo have helped to make our partnership deeper and lasting. Playing together is a great pleasure, even if some works we have commissioned have give us a tough test for the commitment and the difficulty, like the pieces of Klaus Ospald and Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf. One of the most significant periods of our work together was the realization of Memorias de El Cimarron and some arias from opera The English Cat that became Minette for two guitars, as an invitation and a collaboration between Hans Werner Henze. The result was a CD that has won in Berlin, the Echo Klassik Preis 2000, and numerous concerts in which these new works for two guitars were heard, and now are in the repertoire of other guitar duos. We already have dates for 2009 and even though the distance between Milan and Monaco does not facilitate the meetings, the commonality of purpose and direction always keep us in close contact.
Cage, Carter, Riley, Reich .... What would be the next composer who crosses your path on music? Maybe ... Zappa?
As you know I love Frank Zappa’s music a lot and I played pieces from The Yellow Shark with the Ensemble Modern and the Divertimento Ensemble. I remember Zappa live in Frankfurt, during rehearsals with the Ensemble Modern while the various tracks of The Yellow Shark were taking shape, it was a great thrill to be there just to attend that event! After his death, I attended some evening dedicated to him, with works written for my electric guitar in his honour, like Early Reflection by Giorgio Magnanensi, an Italian composer active for many years on the music scene of Vancouver. I don’t know if there will be the possibility to do more about Zappa ... but there are other interesting American composers, some of them seem to follow the direction he has drawn. Sidney Corbett, who lives in Germany, Scott Johnson, whom we have played the world premiere Americans, a very interesting work, where the electric guitar has a very important role, with Sentieri Selvaggi last year, Tim Brady, a Canadian composer , an excellent electric guitar player himself, which I would like to suggest listening Playing Guitar: Symphony No. 1. And then let me remind Eve Beglarian and David Lang, that my students and former students at the University of Bern have already played in their diplomas and that I hope soon to play in concert. I think I would like to play Guitar Phase by Steve Reich and continue my work about Cage. Like John Cage suggested in his writings, lI keep my mind in alert, or at least I try to do it!
It seems that there is around the world a small musical scene of classical guitarists dedicated to an innovative and contemporary repertoire, people like you and for example Marco Cappelli and David Tanenbaum, David Starobin, Marc Ribot who played The book of Head by John Zorn ... shall we speak about a specific musical scene? Are there other guitarists you know and that you may suggest us that they “move on these musical routes”?
I think we can speak about a genuine community of guitarists of the international level that are interested in playing and encouraging a new repertoire for this instrument in its various forms. A repertoire that belongs to a great flow of music research, which we define as we say before “New Music”, which keeps in close contact the guitar with the rest of an active and important musical world. We work al lot, devoting countless hours to new scores for solo instrument or incorporated into ensembles, we keep in touch by email, we sends new cds between us to spread the knowledge of these pieces just written, there is very little competition and lots of understanding and cooperation. The names you mentioned are certainly part of this community and I think I can add, asking pardon for those who I may forget or whom I don’t know yet, Geoffrey Morris in Australia, Norio Sato in Japan, Jürgen Ruck and Seth Josel in Germany, Pablo Gomez in Mexico City, Pablo Marquez in France and Magnus Andersson in Sweden.
to be continued