Marko Topchii seems to be taking the guitar world by storm. Hailing from Ukraine, Marko has amassed more than 80 awards (34 of them 1st prize) from the most important international guitar competitions in the world. I was recently pointed to a video that despite the casual setting of what looks like a green room and the mobile-phone-to-the-mirror technique of filming, displays a true force of nature as he rips through Joaquín Rodrigo’s Toccata. It is as if he chose the most violent wave to surf and simply flew over it.
If you have more time, here is a recent performance of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Capriccio Diabolico from a performance in Italy.
Nadja Jankovic, a young and extremely talented guitarist hailing from Montenegro, interprets Joaquín Rodrigo’s Invocación y Danza brilliantly. From the haunting introduction to the rhythmic dance, Nadja invokes the spirit of this masterpiece with musical clarity and maturity that is seldom heard in such young players.
I just came across some inspiring videos of Spanish guitarist Andrea Gonazález Caballero playing Joaquín Rodrigo’s En los Trigales and Joaquín Clerch’s fingerful arrangement of Manuel de Falla’s La Vida Breve. Both videos display a brilliant and natural technique paired with deep musical sophistication.
I just came across the Canadian guitarist, Drew Henderson, playing the Allegro from Johann Sebastian Bach’s 2nd Violin Sonata, BWV1003. His performance is brilliant on many levels and the fact that he is playing an 8-string guitar allows him to add in bass notes that would otherwise be impossible on a standard 6-string guitar.
And, here is another magical and virtuosic performance of Joaquín Rodrigo’s Zapateado from Tres piezas Españolas. It seems that Drew does fine on a six-string, too. : )
Hope that inspires you all!
“The king of guitar.” – L’Stampa
If there ever was an argument for practicing rest stroke scales, I think Marco Tamayo would settle it. Though the video below is casually shot by a student asking about fingering solutions to Joaquín Rodrigo’s Aranjuez and Joaquín Turina’s Soleares, there is gold in it. Just observing the complete ease and extreme mastery of Marco’s approach reveals how much care and thought has gone into every single action.
Here is another valuable video where Marco gives us details on nail shaping and filing. Again, probably one of a handful of videos that are worth watching on the subject.
Check out his newly published Principles of Guitar Performance. Or, if you are looking for a start into building a technical routine check out the Technical Workout Workbooks on Six String Journal’s publications page!
One aspect of Ángel Romero‘s edition of Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez is that every single scale is fingered optimally for string crossing so that m almost always reaches towards a higher string when blazing through the scale passages (i.e. when going from string 2 to 1, it is fingered i m and not m i). And while you could employ slurs or shifts to maintain optimum string-crossing, if those solutions are not musically in the cards there is a finger standing on the sidelines waiting eagerly to help: a. Using a to switch from im alternation to mi alternation without skipping a beat is an important skill to develop for situations where you would want to maintain optimum string-crossing for the right hand. Here are a few exercises using a to develop this technique.
Keep the following points in mind when going through these.
- Maintain a steady metric pulse.
- Keep your tone consistent.
- Practice rest-stroke and free-stroke.
Exercise 2 and 3
Exercise 4 and 5
The option to slow youtube videos to half speed may come handy on this video of uber-virtuoso, Marco Tamayo, demonstrating some solutions to difficult parts in two of Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concertos for Guitar and Orchestra: Fantasia para un Gentilhombre and Concierto de Aranjuez.
Hope you find that as inspiring as I did.
I recently stumbled upon this great artist’s videos on youtube while looking for a worthwhile performance of Joaquín Rodrigo’s Fandango from his Tres piezas españolas. With over 30 awards and 19 (!) 1st prizes from both solo competitions and chamber music competitions, Spanish guitarist Mabel Millán is often in the spotlight as one of the emerging young concert guitarists of her generation. What is so impressive is that she is in her early twenties and is also getting a law degree while she pursues an active concert career. Her playing is so fluid and lyrical that it is easy to overlook the fact that she is playing some of the most demanding guitar repertoire effortlessly. Here she is performing Joaquín Rodrigo’s Fandango and Zapateado, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Chaconne, and William Walton’s 3rd Bagatelle. It’s hard to imagine it could be performed better.
Mabel’s latest news is that she will be performing Manuel Ponce’s Concierto del Sur in Madrid’s Teatro Monumental and will be the first woman to record the concerto. Also, her first CD will be released on the Mexican label AdlibMusic MX with a rendition of Leo Brouwer’s Sonata of the Black Decameron. Below is a take of her recording Antonio Ruiz-Pipó’s Canción y Danza Nº1.
Hope that inspires everyone!
This is the first Artist Spotlight piece where I hope to share a bit of news about very high level guitarists, highlight some of their videos, and point you in the right direction to explore their musical world.
The first artist I’d like to feature is Spanish guitarist, Ricardo Gallén. I met Ricardo briefly in 1999 at a guitar festival in Granada. He was teaching masterclasses as Eliot Fisk’s assistant and while I played for Eliot in that festival, I realize now that I missed an immense learning opportunity by not having taken a class from Ricardo!
Ricardo Gallén has been praised by countless great musicians, critics, and colleagues as a supreme virtuoso with an intense and wide-ranging musical intellectuality. The great Cuban composer and conductor, Leo Brouwer, has said that Gallén possesses, “great creativity and virtuosity that is felt only by looking at his hands.” Besides performing and teaching all over the world to high acclaim, he is becoming known for his recordings and performances of music by Johann Sebastian Bach and in particular, his lute suites.
For a long time, the standard recording of the great John Williams was the required listening as an introduction to these works but I would venture to say that Ricardo Gallén’s recording holds equal footing on many levels and perhaps even surpasses it in his highly nuanced and stylistic interpretations. Another strength that Ricardo possesses is his range in interpreting music from the great classical period guitar composers, Mauro Giuliani, Fernando Sor, to premiering new contemporary works by composers like Leo Brouwer.
Here is Ricardo’s webpage and his Facebook page for more current news on his musical activities. Below are some links to his recordings and a few beautifully filmed videos. Hope this inspires you all!