Your presence at Ticino Musica is now a point of reference for dozens and dozens of guitarists from all over the world, who attend each of your lessons every year, beyond their individual moments. What is the added value of this kind of 'collective' work?
Collective work creates a dynamic that does not exist in individual lessons behind closed doors. The presence of other students encourages greater concentration and multiplies the learning moments. This makes it possible to explore in greater depth a multitude of concepts, both technical, interpretative and philosophical: as a result, at the end of two weeks of lessons, the path travelled and plumbed is much deeper, longer and more interactive and the repertoire covered is much more extensive. On the other hand, the continuous presence of all the students avoids the necessity of explaining the same concepts several times, and if there is a repetition, it is always a putting into perspective of the same concept, not a mechanical reiteration.
What is your mood as you return to Ticino Musica in 2021?
I am very happy to return every year to Ticino Musica, it is always an intense moment of reflection and exchange with both colleagues and students: this is extremely important to me. It is also a great joy to return to play in public after the longest break of my entire professional life, almost nine months in which I was unable to do so due to the pandemic situation and for personal reasons.
Your recital programme includes your transcriptions from Chopin. What is the significance of transposing this almost 100% "pianistic" author onto the guitar?
I will play two Etudes from op. 25, the first and the fourth. These are transcriptions born almost by chance because the Etude from Chopin's Opus 25 No. 4 always reminded me of the Etude Opus 31 No. 20 by Fernando Sor (a very important composer and protoromantic guitarist), which is in the same key of A minor and deals with the same musical material, the staccato-legato. One day I decided to take Chopin's score to analyse it in more detail, and to my surprise I discovered that it worked very well on the guitar. At that moment I realised that Chopin uses other methods which are also present in Sor's study: chord thickening and refrains. Sor published his Opus 31 in 1827 in Paris, on his return from Russia. Chopin arrived in Paris in 1830 and composed his Etudes op. 25 shortly afterwards. Both lived in the same city until Sor's death in 1839 and although there is no historical evidence that they met (Chopin was 32 years younger than Sor) it is not impossible that they met.
We will probably never know if Chopin knew the Sor etude in question, but it is an interesting hypothesis.
The guitar is seen, somewhat stereotypically, as an instrument with a delicate sound. Beyond this 'common' definition, what are the secrets of the guitar's personality and sound?
The guitar is one of the instruments with the most colour possibilities, almost an infinity of nuances depending on the different touches. This is what led Berlioz to define it as a 'small orchestra' and this richness makes it unique. As far as the delicacy of the instrument is concerned, in my personal experience, which has led me to play in large halls, I have never had problems getting the sound of the guitar to the last row. In my opinion the secret is to think in terms of projection and not volume. Nowadays there's a strong tendency to confuse these two concepts, which is particularly evident in lutherie. That's why I favour the use of traditional instruments with a sound that is perhaps a little weaker, but which project more than modern instruments. In my concert in Lugano I will be using a marvellous guitar made in 1927 by the Barcelona luthier Francisco Simplicio