Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) needs no introduction. His Milonga del Ángel is one of my favorite pieces. It is part of his Serie del Ángel: Milonga del Ángel, La muerte del Ángel, and Resurrección del Ángel. I remember getting lost in his recording Zero Hour when I was in music school. Haunting, sad, and nostalgic, Piazzolla transports me to Argentina every time I play this.
All three pieces in the series were beautifully arranged by Agustín Carlevaro. This version is not often played but I find it more compelling than the usual transcription by Baltazar Benítez despite liking that one as well.
If you have not heard the brilliant young guitarist Julia Trintschuk you are in for a treat. Hailing from Germany, Julia has been on stages all over the world and performed Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez at age 16 to launch her career. With a seemingly endless amount of technical skill, a refined and elegant sound, and a natural musicality, her interpretations transcend the guitar. Fortunately for Six String Journal readers, Julia recently took some time to share some of her experience, tips, and advice! Enjoy.
When did you start playing and why? Or, what drew you to the guitar initially?
Actually I first started playing piano at the age of four. As my mother was teaching me the piano and my father was always playing the guitar, soon I also became interested in playing guitar and started having the first guitar lessons with my father at the age of four as well. From then on I continued playing both instruments.
What repertoire do you enjoy playing the most?
In general I’m only choosing pieces I enjoy playing and working on, to join my repertoire. But it also depends a lot on my mood and the piece itself. What I like a lot is to have a big contrast and variety between the different pieces, for example a couple of technically very demanding and virtuosic pieces, some musically difficult pieces and a few very beautiful and simple piece.
What guitar or guitars do you perform on? Strings?
Mostly I’m playing on my guitars by Fernando Mazza with a cedar top and my Antonio Marin with spruce and satin wood. It’s a very colorful guitar and makes it easy to create a tender way of making music and not focusing on the technical issues too much. Apart from that I like to use my other guitars with a cedar top for a more powerful repertoire or chamber music.
As for the strings I am very happy to be a part of the Savarez family since 2017 and I’m using the Savarez 510 MJP Cantiga Creation Premium High Tension.
Which guitarists/musicians have had the most influence on you?
My teachers Prof. Mario Sicca, Martin Wiedmann, Mateus de la Fonte and Prof. Joaquin Clerch definitely had the biggest influence on me. Musically speaking also my long-term piano teacher So-Ryong Chuoa had an immense influence on me and led me to two of my biggest inspirations Evgeny Kissin and Sergej Rachmaninov.
Are you planning to record a cd? What are some up and coming projects you are excited about?
There are a few projects ahead, that I’m excited about, but they’re still in the process of making, so I’ll be happy to share them soon, when things will get more precise.
Technique and Performance
How much do you practice? And, do you structure your practice in any particular way?
Usually I practice around six hours a day, sometimes more, sometimes a bit less. But structure in the practice is one of the most important things in my opinion. I think it is very important to have an overview on all projects that are going on and to set deadlines.
Another benefit that structuring your practice brings, is that with the time you get to know how much time and which precise steps it requires for you to refresh old pieces, which can be a big help, when you have several programs you have to prepare. All in all I believe a structured practice plan is the key to a good time management that saves you from wasting both time and energy in the wrong way.
What has to be included in every practice plan in my opinion is a warm-up/technique session, a few sessions for working on new repertoire, and one session where you refresh old pieces or keep current pieces “alive”. The most important is to separate these blocks by breaks, in order to keep focused and be able to go through all of these parts daily.
Are there aspects of guitar that you struggle with or that you find you are still working on?
As we change our perspectives and points of view constantly during the process of development, I don’t believe it is ever possible to achieve the state of an absolutely controlled, constant total perfection and be “completely done” with the work with the instrument. It’s just that the focus on what you want to improve, lies on different aspects in the different phases on top of the basic feeling of a general comfort with the guitar.
Do you deliberately memorize music or have a technique that helps assimilate music into memory?
In most cases the memorization comes while I’m practicing the piece, but sometimes if I want to support or accelerate the process I like using the technique of mental practice (without guitar) and also to analyse the harmonic progressions.
Have you published any editions or do you plan to publish your own editions in the future?
I have done a few arrangements, that I didn’t publish yet, but I’m definitely planning to do that in the near future.
Do you have a favorite drill you use to warm up?
My favourite parts from my usual warm-up routine are minor and major scales through all tonalities and the 12 etudes by Heitor Villa-Lobos. Apart from that I also like warming up on the piano by practicing different technical exercises, before practicing the guitar.
Do you do anything to your nails or shape them in a particular way?
Apart from the usual filing and smoothing with a common nail file and nail papers I don’t use any specific products.
Advice to Younger Players
What single most important piece of advice about practicing would you offer to younger players?
Practice slow with a lot of patience and love what you’re doing.
What repertoire do you consider essential for young/conservatory students to assimilate? Why?
Apart from the classical “competition repertoire” that every ambitious guitarist goes through, in my eyes the 12 Etudes by Villa-Lobos and the 20 Etudes simples by Leo Brouwer are essential, because it doesn’t only include all technical difficulties that one learns to master during the process of learning these pieces, but these pieces also give a perfect fundament for deepening the understanding of harmony and finding a personal way of applying music to at first glance seemingly technical studies.
Recordings that every young guitarist should be familiar with and why?
I believe especially in a young age it is very important to get familiar with the recordings of the most important, diverse legends of the guitar such as Paco de Lucia, Andres Segovia, Julian Bream, Manuel Barrueco, going through all generations and “schools”, to be able to understand and develop your own taste and style. In order to evolve a personal style of musicality in my opinion it is even more important to listen to meaningful other instrument, chamber music and orchestral recordings.
What is the last book that you read? Favorite author/s?
The last book I read is “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran. Among my favorite authors are Paulo Coelho, Jane Austen and Bernhard Schlink.
Do you try to stay healthy? Exercise? Follow a particular diet? Have a favorite pre-concert food?
I like to stay active in my free time and try to do different activities and I do some home exercises and yoga. I also like cooking a lot, but I don’t follow a specific diet. Everything just has to be fresh and tasty 🙂
Do you meditate in any way?
To me focus and concentration, mental health and spiritual development are very important, so I try to keep it up in different personal ways, also including meditation.
What is your favorite way to spend time when not practicing?
I love searching for inspiration, when I’m not practicing. That doesn’t only include all the activities that are connected to being a musician like listening to music, reading, playing other instruments, but also visiting theaters, art galleries, dancing, spending time with family and friends, meeting interesting people, cooking, trying different activities, visiting saunas and spas, enjoying the beauty of nature – so shortly: discovering all the beauties of life itself. 🙂
Via Guitar Salon International’s stellar YouTube channel, here is 2017 GFA winner, Tengyue Zhang burning through Sergio Assad’s arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s Primavera Porteña. Tengyue plays with a great pulse, an extremely clear articulation, and the nimble fingers necessary to pull ff this difficult arrangement. The guitar featured is one by Zoran Kuvac.
“Always the master of his instrument, Dukić demonstrated spectacular virtuosity over and over again together with a great maturity and powerful inspiration.” Il Gazzettino, Italy
Though I’ve seen his name over the years many times, I had yet to see Croatian guitarist, Zoran Dukić, play until a few months ago when I was scouring Guitar Coop‘s wonderful site. His mastery confirmed after hearing a single note conjured from his guitar, I have found myself watching his videos over and over.
Here are two videos displaying profound beauty and depth. The first of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Larghetto from the Violin Sonata Nº3 in C, BWV1005. The second video is a passionate and virtuosic rendition of Sergios Assad’s finger-full transcription of Astor Piazzolla’s Invierno Porteño.
Hailed as an “exceptionally talented performer,” Uruguayan guitarist, José Fernández Bardesio, plays his captivating transcriptions of Astor Piazzolla’s Tanti Anni Prima and Oblivion. José’s playing is both virtuosic and serene as he conjures Piazzolla’s beautiful melodies.
Here is a new and beautifully shot video of guitar wonder Yuri Liberzon playing a great arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion. Yuri’s interpretations are so crisp, clear, and elegant. It is treat to hear more Piazzolla from his guitar.
Yuri recently released a CD of Piazzolla’s music. Check it out here.
And, if you’ve followed Six String Journal, there is a great interview in this and some subsequent posts where Yuri shares some great advice on playing.
Australian guitarist Jacob Cordover recorded several videos for Guitar Salon International. All portray a solid command of the instrument but I found his rendition of Enrique Granados’ Danza Española Nº5 Andaluza to have a magical quality where the artist and 1969 Ramirez seem made for each other.
Here is another video where he plays a lesser known, though thoroughly convincing arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s Adios Nonino.
I’ve had Yuri Liberzon‘s new recording dedicated to the music of Astor Piazzolla ¡Acentuado! for a few weeks now and have listened to it several times. In addition to the tour de force performance of the seldom heard Tango-Études (originally for unaccompanied flute or violin and transcribed by Yuri’s former teacher and guitar legend, Manuel Barrueco), Yuri is joined by virtuoso flutist Josué Casillas in a beautiful rendition of perhaps one of Piazzolla’s most well-known and beloved pieces in the guitar chamber music repertoire.
¡Acentuado! is wonderful on so many fronts, it’s hard to know where to begin. For starts, one gets the sense that there is nothing Yuri cannot do on the guitar. His virtuosity is understated and elegant and despite the way it serves the music, it is noticeably impressive. The Tango Études are not easy pieces, technically and emotionally, but in his hands they sound effortless and precise whether he is driving rhythms forward or sinking into a meditative cantabile. In a way, Piazzolla’s music with all of its intensity, accents, and precise rhythmic articulations is perfectly suited to a player like Yuri who plays in such an articulate manner.
Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango is always enjoyable listening but it is more enjoyable here as it seems to come across more like a live performance to my ears than a studio recording. Josué Casillas’s playing is brilliant and alive and Yuri grounds the ensemble strongly through all four movements.
This is a great recording all around from a two outstanding musicians. Order a copy of the CD. This will be one you listen to a lot.
Another amazing video from Guitar Salon International capturing Yuri Liberzon performing one of Manuel Barrueco’s arrangements of Astor Piazzolla’s Tango Etudes for flute. Aside from the masterful, crisp, and articulate playing, this performance is particularly compelling given the beautiful 1912 Manuel Ramirez guitar he is playing.
I’m very excited to hear his soon-to- be-released CD ¡Acentuado! featuring all of these Etudes and more Piazzolla! Stay tuned.