Thomas Viloteau plays Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Concerto Nº1

 

Here is a clip from years ago of Thomas Viloteau playing Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Concerto Nº1, Op. 99. The guitar music of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco always evokes endless fantasy and the grandeur of Hollywood in the 50s and 60s. As usual, Thomas plays with crystalline clarity, direction, and energy. Check out Six String Journal’s interview with Thomas here: SSJ Interview Thomas Viloteau.

 

Koen Claeys World Premier of Leo Brouwer’s Quinteto Nº2

Belgian virtuoso, Koen Claeys, along with the French string quartet “Quatuor Hermes” recently performed the world premier of Cuban composer, Leo Brouwer’s Quinteto Nº2, In Memoriam Alejo Carpentier, para guitarra y cuarteto de cuerdas. The work, dedicated to Koen and performed in celebration of Brouwer’s 80th birthday, is a single-movement quintet that is both vibrant and vigorous with moments that are both delicate and sensuous. Brouwer manages to evoke a soundscape reminiscent of the magical realism of Cuban musicologist and novelist Alejo Carpentier. Enjoy!

 

In case you missed the wonderful artist profile on Koen, you can find it here:

Koen Claeys Artist Interview and Profile

Featured Artist and Interview – Daniel Schatz

Praised for his musicianship and virtuosity alike, Israeli guitar virtuoso Daniel Schatz has been heard on many stages across Europe, South America, and Israel. Fortunately for Six String Journal readers, Daniel took some time this weekend to share some of his thoughts on guitar and to chat about his musical journey so far. Enjoy!

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Personal

When did you start playing and why? Or, what drew you to the guitar initially?

I started to play at the age of 10 or so. My father had an old twelve-string guitar stashed away and I was always drawn to it when he wasn’t at home. One day he showed me some chords on that guitar, I remember it was very, very hard due to the double-coursed steel strings. I guess we didn’t have computer games back then…

What repertoire do you enjoy playing the most?

Bach is my bread and water, I play at least one suit every day.

What guitar or guitars do you perform on? Strings?

I play on a 2009 Karl-Heinz Römmich in concerts. As for strings, I use what works to my opinion the best for that guitar, which is for basses – Augustine blue, second and third strings – Savarez alliance, and first string – Augustine regal.

Which guitarists/musicians have had the most influence on you?

From a guitar prospective I guess I always come back to the holy trinity of guitarists: Segovia, Bream, and Williams. But I rarely listen to guitarist. As musicians go I have to say Glenn Gould, Andras Schiff, and Emil Gilels on piano. Pieter Wispelwey on cello, Gidon Kremer on violin, and Tabea Zimmermann on viola are for me always an inspiration.

If you have recordings, which recording/s are you most proud of? If not, are you planning to record a cd?

I don’t see the economic viability of CD’s. Many of my friends have recorded for some labels, they don’t get nothing for their hard work. Some of them recorded on their own equity and paid the label to distribute the CD with no revenue. I find this to be very strange and don’t see me taking a apart of it.

Are there any recordings that you consider have the finest recorded sound for guitar?

I love the sound of Carles Trepat’s recordings on an old Torres with gut-strings.

What are some up and coming projects (recordings, concerts) you are excited about?

I have three projects coming up. The first is an homage to the Segovian repertoire with a modern take on the arrangements, the second is a project with string players of the Israeli Philharmonie, and the third is a project with a wonderful soprano and cellist. in between I have some wonderful projects with a piano player and the Aranjuez with orchestra.

Technique and Performance

How much do you practice? And, do you structure your practice in any particular way?

I have two children and many students, so I practice when they are away, which is mostly at the morning time. I try to play every Bach day. It keeps my memory and technique fit. After that I practice the program for the oncoming concert and read new pieces.

Are there aspects of guitar that you struggle with or that you find you are still working on?

Technically guitar is very hard, I think the hardest thing is to see through the technique and find a musical concept. I see more and more young players falling into those technical perfection traps and I try myself to avoid them as best as I can.

Do you deliberately memorize music or have a technique that helps assimilate music into memory?

1.Practice slowly 2. Practice slowly 3. Practice slowly.

Have you published any editions or do you plan to publish your own editions in the future?

I don’t have plans to do this soon since I have much on my plate, but one day I hope to get to it.

Do you have a favorite drill you use to warm up?

BWV997 fugue slowly.

Do you have any pre-concert rituals?

I try not to have a big lunch on that day and I play trough very slow and pianissimo to get the feel of the guitar and relax my hands

Do you do anything to your nails or shape them in a particular way?

It is very different from one person to the other. I try to have them as short as possible for me (which will be very long for someone else). Any length more than 2mm above the skin and I get a “naily” sound.

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Advice to Younger Players

What single most important piece of advice about practicing would you offer to younger players?

Play a piece that you like. If you really like the piece you would gladly spend more time to make it sound good.

What repertoire do you consider essential for young/conservatory students to assimilate? Why?

I think that every guitarist should go through the pieces that got the guitar to the place it is now. The Segovia/Williams program is our “school”. I find it somewhat strange that students play Britten or Ohana but not Asturias or Recuerdos.

Recordings that every young guitarist should be familiar with and why?

Villa Lobos with Alvaro Pierri. Pierri is coming to this music armed with amazing imagination rather than with dexterity (of which he is not lacking in any way).

Tangent

What is the last book that you read? Favorite author/s?

Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation is the last one I read. I think Bulgakov is maybe my favorite.

Do you try to stay healthy? Exercise? Follow a particular diet? Have a favorite pre-concert food?

I try not to eat excessively, I try to exercise, but I find the hardest part is to put the sneakers on. I love local fresh Mediterranean food but before concerts salads are always a good choice.

Do you meditate in any way?

No, but I love to think about things in silence.

What is your favorite way to spend time when not practicing?

Playing with my kids is a lot of fun.

Any things else you’d like to add?

I hope guitarist will start acknowledging that they are a part of a big musical community and work their way up the ladder in the music world in the same way Segovia did many decades ago, instead of working inwards in the guitar world.

***

Leo García plays Piazzolla’s Muerte del Ángel

Throughout the years I’ve enjoyed hearing many versions of Astor Piazzolla’s Muerte del Ángel. When I finally decided to add it to my repertoire the version that was most memorable was the one I remembered hearing on Marcelo Kayath’s Latin American Favorites record released in 1987. I still hold that record in high regard for Marcelo’s beautiful sound and elegant playing.

Thanks for listening!

Xavier Jara plays Manuel Ponce’s Balletto

 

Here is a video I stumbled upon this morning that caught my ear. From Galerie des Luthiers in France, it features 2016 GFA Winner, Xavier Jara, playing Manuel Ponce’s Balletto. From the rich sounding Enrique Garcia guitar to the absolute beautiful and lyrical playing, Jara invokes the magical early era of the guitar. When hearing these old guitars come to life, I wish more performers would record more videos on them or, for that matter, play entire concerts on them.

 

Andrea González Caballero playing Albéniz’s Cataluña

The talented Spanish guitarist Andrea González Caballero just released a live video of a recent performance of Isaac Albéniz’s Cataluña from Suite española, Op. 47. Andrea’s strong, confident, and graceful playing is certainly at its best here! Enjoy.

Check out Six String Journal’s interview with Andrea here.

Thomas Viloteau plays Fuoco

Thomas Viloteau‘s rendition of Roland Dyens’ Fuoco from Libra Sonatina is wonderful. As usual, his playing is technically precise, musically crystal clear, and from the looks of it, effortless. I hope he did videos of the other movements! For more on Thomas, check out Six String Journal’s interview with him here.

Time to practice!

Active Practice Techniques to Improve Tremolo, Part 4

Aural Refocus

This is an interesting technique that I have found truly helpful for developing speed and the correct rhythmic feel across whatever pattern you are practicing, and since I have not found any reference to it in the literature, I refer to it as aural refocus. Its purpose is to refocus your hearing on the larger beats within a pattern or movement, and then “feed in” the rest of the notes while retaining attention on the larger concept and rhythmic feel.

In theory, we want to perform the larger movements in time—but in practice we rarely do so because we feel limited by all the minutiae that a particular movement demands. With a lot of work, patterns that undergo the aural refocus treatment will get a boost in speed while retaining their rhythmic integrity and stability.

Here are three exercises for applying aural refocus to tremolo. Before you begin, set the metronome to an ambitious tempo (72–88+ bpm per half note) and keep it constant through each exercise. Play only the fingers indicated, do not play the small notes in the following exercises and feel the larger beat in the right hand. Play through each line for at least a minute. Then alternate freely between the lines, coming back to the first line often to reestablish the longer sense of pulse and technical ease.

Exercise 1

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Exercise 2

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Exercise 3

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There you have it!

For more active practice techniques, check out: Mastering Tremolo.

Active Practice Techniques to Improve Tremolo, Part 3

Percussion

By sticking a cloth or a soft sponge under the strings near the bridge, you can turn your guitar plucks into little thumping sounds. Limiting the resonance of the guitar to these not unpleasant thumps refocuses your attention on two very important qualities necessary for great tremolo technique: rhythmic evenness from thump to thump, and the quality of intensity of each thump.

So put a sock in it:

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Hope that helps! Stay tuned for Part 4.

For more active practice techniques, check out: Mastering Tremolo