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XXIV Guitar Convention

XXIV Guitar Convention, Modena, Palazzo Coccapani, October 29 2011

The 24th Guitar Convention was held in Modena 29th October 2011, in cooperation with the Accademia Nazionale di Scienze, Lettere e Arti. This year too, the scientific committee proposed an event of primary importance, which confirmed in this way a strict musicological method based on an efficient chronological approach, from the origins of the guitar history down to current developments. Such an approach, as successfully tried out in the 2010 Convention, has since become a distinctive feature of this undertaking. In fact, such a method has made it possible to delve more deeply into significant aspects related to the guitar throughout the course of its historical development, and it will stand as an element of continuity as for its future editions.

 The reports and the musical interludes outline a path full of new acquisitions, from the vihuela and guitar Renaissance down to contemporary music, through the Nineteenth century of Carulli and Schubert, the twentieth-century developments of Villa-Lobos and of the Segovia legacy, up to including the latest research in matters of sound, as experimented by the new composers' generations.

On the occasion of the convention two exhibitions were organized: one on the Italian guitar-making of our time, and the other one dedicated to maestro Cesare Lutzemberger (Trento 1918-2008) and curated by his daughter Norma. Norma Lutzemberger provided a documentation of special interest, which belongs to her family musical fund. A new project has thus been launched as for the next convention, which consists of creating a series of documentary exhibitions focusing on important personalities who distinguished themselves for their artistic endeavours around the guitar. The aim is that of celebrating their memory through the exhibition of unpublished documents, music objects and memorabilia, autographs and other rarities which are preserved in archives as well as in private collections, and which are not always accessible to the public.

The day opened with greetings by Prof. Ferdinando Taddei, president of the National Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts.

Then it was the curator of the convention turn to speak, Simona Boni, who showed some new and original contributions studies promoted by Chitarra in Italia in collaboration with various scholars and teachers. She thus introduced the XXIV Convention and the guitar recitals of the day.

The morning began with the contribution Comiença la musica para guitarra by Massimo Lonardi, a renowned expert in early music who performed some splendid Renaissance vihuela pages. This instrument represents the true ancestor of the guitar: the performance was a real beginning, then, as exemplified in the word title which tellingly hints at the Iberian origin of this particular repertoire. In fact, the works of Luys Milán, Diego Pisador, Alonso Mudarra, Luys de Narváez constitute a reference for the guitar literature which flourished later in the centuries, in different ages and contexts that is absolutely necessary.

The pleasure of listening to this charming music being played on the instrument for which it had been written and conceived, is also due to the essential work of luthiers specialized in the restoration and reconstruction of historical instruments. Towards this direction stands the second paper of the morning, held by the guitar maker Anna Radice, who illustrated an intense study on iconographic and textual sources as well as rare period instruments which have come down to us. Her accurate surveys have made it possible to ascertain the existence of a sixteenth-century guitar with four courses of strings. The instrument was widespread in Spain, in France, in the Netherlands and in England until the end of the sixteenth century. She associated her interesting explanation, specific and most precise as for documentary references, with the presentation of interesting images and of the exposition of two to four-coursed guitar reconstructed by the luthier herself.

The participation of Eleonora Vulpiani opened up in continuity with a both musical and organological survey, through the gentle moves of a Siciliana by Francesco Molino played on a valuable historical copy of a lyre-guitar made by luthier Gerardo Parrinello. After such musical introduction, Eleonora Vulpiani outlined the history of this very special instrument, which was popular mainly in Paris between the late eighteenth and the early decades of the nineteenth century, in correspondence to the Neoclassical period. And it is indeed from the Greek-Roman aesthetics that the instrument derives its elegant shape, such as it was interpreted with refined artistic taste by the makers of the time, and as was evidenced by the many images collected by the speaker. The lyre-guitar was broadly welcomed among the French aristocracy and quickly spread throughout the major European courts, thus drawing the attention of some of the most influential composers of the nineteenth century who devoted to it a specific repertoire.

Still keeping reference to the nineteenth-century context, Nicoletta Confalone discussed the relationship between Schubert and the guitar, former subject of her degree dissertation in Musicology An angel without heaven: the guitar in search of Schubert. By means of an analysis of considerable consistency, the researcher was able to highlight the intimist character shared by both the composer and the instrument, thus revealing the story of a failed relationship, of which some traces remain in the Trio Zur Namensfeier meines Vaters D 80 for two tenors, bass and guitar, and the reworking of the Nocturne op. 21 by Matiegka transformed into Schubert's Quartet D 96.

As a conclusion of the morning session, Francesco Biraghi offered a valuable opportunity to examine the contribution of Ferdinando Carulli to the chamber music repertoire with guitar. His careful survey on the corpus of works by this guitarist-composer shed new light on his lively and sophisticated compositional style, which right in this repertoire - not yet fully acknowledged, in some ways - achieves the true expression of his time. The Classico Terzetto Italiano (Ubaldo Rosso, flute, Carlo De Martini, violin, and Francesco Biraghi, guitar) devoted to the works of this 'Neapolitan in Paris' a rigorous study, and proposed at the convention a much applauded performance of the Nocturne op. 24/II n.1, with period instruments.

As usual, the lunch served in the halls of the palace was a welcome opportunity for conversation and conviviality. After the group portrait of the Convention convened "Maestri", taken by photographer Marco Cavina, the works of the Convention were carried on punctually in the early afternoon.

Acclaimed concert guitarist Sara Gianfelici presented an evocative programme, centred on the theme Landscapes of the soul between the Nineteenth and the Twientieth century. She played some famous pages for guitar with great expressiveness and richness in nuances: from the song of melancholy and yearning of Elegie by Mertz, to the brilliant portraits by Tárrega (Adelita, María, Marieta, Pavana, Estudio de Velocidad), finishing with the almost impressionistic tunes of the three movements of La Catedral by Barrios Mangoré.

Frederic Zigante's study about the many years of research he devoted to the guitar music of Villa-Lobos, research which led him to travel among the Paris archives of the publishing house Max Eschig, the Fondación Andrés Segovia in Linares and the Museum Villa-Lobos in Rio de Janeiro, showed great musicological interest. The Maestro explained how he came to conceive a new critical edition of the music of the Brazilian composer, driven by the desire to discover the reason for the numerous typos and inconsistencies between the editions of Villa-Lobos's works (especially the Douze Études) and the various manuscripts found. Upon completion of the speech, the convened were given a booklet - printed on the occasion of this convention - containing accurate excerpts of the analytical work conducted by Zigante and which merged in his recent critical edition of the works of Villa-Lobos.

Current developments in guitar composition were discussed under the light of two different experiences, arising from different fields of sound experimentation.

Andrea Dieci proposed the performance of three pieces by Nicola Jappelli: Light Frameworks, Sectional Drawings and Sharp Outlines. These works, written for Andrea Dieci himself between 2002 and 2007, reveal very specific choices of timbre and develop a musical harmony that can move through unusual contexts for the guitar, a feature made possible by the use of the bass detuning. The result was an linguistic mixture of clearly expressive force and rhythmic characterization, whose interpretation was skillfully mastered by Andrea Dieci.

A different expressive context was rendered by guitarist and composer Ganesh Del Vescovo. The title of his speech, The guitar without borders, introduces us to his constant exploration of the many expressive possibilities of the guitar, following an approach - both instrumental and compositional at the same time - that led him to experiment with modifications of the instrument. The outcome of this research is for example the cikari guitar, designed by the Maestro by adding two metal strings to the traditional tuning by means of a movable bridge. The audience at the convention had then the chance to listen to this evocative instrument, through the performance of two compositions drawn from a entitled called Risonanze. Ganesh Del Vescovo performed then other compositions of his for classical guitar: a Fantasy inspired by Indian melodies and featuring a musical development related to the Western system, two Studies (on the pizzicato and on percussions), of great interest as for the techniques introduced in synergy with the musical language, and the composition Schegge di luce (Splinters of Light) that got the First prize at the International Composition Competition "Claxica 2011."

The day ended with the heartfelt speech by Alvaro Company. Guitarist, composer and teacher, teacher of generations of guitarists (among other things, he was the first teacher in 1965, the newly-established Chair of Guitar at the Musical High School "O. Vecchi" in Modena), Alvaro Company was a student and friend of Andrés Segovia. Referring to this life-long artistic acquaintance, he was able to analyze and reflect on the meaning of the teachings of the Andalusian Maestro. Hence, the exhortation to all guitarists not to forget the sense of the information outlined by Segovia both with his human and artistic example and with his educational work: there emerges the need to resume his precious studies on timbre, to devote with greater interest to chamber music for guitar and to concerts with orchestra, and to strengthen the relationship with composers.

In the enlightening words of Maestro Company was condensed a profound message, shared by the spirit itself of the convention: it is necessary to know the past in order to have a more conscious look towards the future, in a generational exchange among masters, musicians, and new students. Uninterrupted research, studies, and work on several music areas, the ability to critically recognize the value of those who, even before us, helped to open up new perspectives: these are the ways to go towards the infinite potential of the six strings.



 S. Mastrogregori, Il XXIV Convegno Chitarristico


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