Παρασκευή, 30 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Free Scores: Santiago de Murcia & Domenico Cimarosa


 

Σε αυτό το link μπορείτε να βρείτε το γνωστό Fandango του Santiago de Murcia σε μεταγραφή του Frank Koonce και 88 σονάτες του Cimarosa σε μεταγραφή για κιθάρα του Moshe H. Levy

1982 - "Not louder but closer..." David Russell Interview



Classical Guitar
November/December 1982: Vol.1, N2
by Colin Cooper
One announces one's presence at David Russell's North London home not with anything so ordinary as a bell, so disruptive as a knocker or so suburban as a set of chimes, but with an arpeggio drawn across the strings of a zither by means of a plectrum attached to a length of cord at the other end of which is a carved handle. At once you know you have come to the right address.
Not that there is anything overly aesthetic about the guitarist's appearance. His face is tanned from a stay in Minorca; his sinewy frame would do credit to an Olympian athlete. A windsurfing accident an important thumbnail; patched up with tissue and glue, it typifies his unfussy and practical approach to the problem of reconciling the enjoyment of living with the demands of professional musicianship. You feel that he will never find an insurance company bold enough to insurance those nails, but when he picks up his guitar you realise that it doesn't matter: David Russell is the sort of player who would probably play well even if he had just fallen off the Matterhorn.
Yet he might have become a different musician altogether: a violinist, a pianist, a horn player even. What drew him to the guitar? It was no surprise to learn that it was the records of Andrés Segovia.
"One had Granados, Dance No. 5 and Dance No. 10, another had Sevilla on one side and Granada on the other, another had the Sor variations, yet another had Turina's Fandanguillo. My father was a guitar enthusiast. He started collecting that were turning up in Glasgow shops, along with old jazz records".
"Segovia does some things in those old records, like vibrato and intonation, that I always found slightly haunting. There is a kind of veiled mystery that you can never emulate in new recordings. You can't get that kind of distant sound that comes through all the crackling and popping. I suppose that sounded fairly alluring".
A musician's platform manner has been compared to a doctor's bedside manner. David Russell's arrival on the platform at one inspires confidence, perhaps because he manages to convey an impression of relaxed yet total confidence in himself.
"It's strange how you can go to a concert and, before the player has reached the chair, either you like him or her or you have formed a negative attitude. It happens before the player even touches the instrument, There is a saying in Spain that you can't trust a person who doesn't trust you. The player who walks on to the stage looking scared doesn't exactly inspire great trust. The player who doesn't look comfortable doesn't inspire great respect".
"People generally are aware of body language, the completely irrational feeling by which most of us judge the things that happen. Body language for musicians could be studied in the way actors study it. When you walk on the stage, you are an actor. The way you move, with your elbows stiff, for example, and your stomach muscles tight: those are signs of discomfort, of protecting yourself from your audience. Or you can move with your arms flowing, standing upright, comfortable. Or perhaps you could move with your chest forward and your chin jutting in a arrogant way, which could be interpreted as another kind of defence. Every player has to give it a little thought and maybe even try it out in different ways".
"I was lucky in that before I knew anything about the Alexander Technique I happened naturally to go into a fairly good position with the guitar. It means that I am comfortable and well balanced. There is a trick you can try in the house of someone, an aunt, say, with whom you feel uncomfortable. You are sitting on the end of the couch, completely wrapping yourself up, mentally defending yourself without meaning to. You can't relax. You mind is tight. The next time you go there you try to open up your shoulders, perhaps let your legs fall apart a little bit, balance your back and maybe even lean right back and let all the muscles go. You can't help feeling much more relaxed, and consequently so does your aunty. You have a much better conversation, and you suddenly find she is a more interesting person. There is an analogy with your audience".
"Why has Segovia charmed his audiences? Because he's so charming on stage, even with the halo of fame around him. Like Rubinstein. Before playing a note he's able to smile comfortably at his audience. Eye contact is important. If you can give the impression before you play that you've looked into everyone's eye, corny though it sounds, then you've taken them in. You don't have to stare at them, but it gives the impression that you're playing directly to each person. It's something quite apart from the musical and technical qualities".
Talking about technique and interpretation and the connections between them, David Russell is not primarily an analytical player, though he has a very clear idea of where the music is going and works hard to convey that sense of direction to his listeners.
"The player has to understand the reason for every note, every group of notes. He or she has to understand the direction of those notes. It's the only way the audience is ever going to understand the direction. Obviously, with some great music, even if the player just plonks away, the audience will know the work well enough to fill in any musical qualities the player has left out. I want to understand why the composer has written those notes, and somehow convey that to you so that you are drawn along from one set of notes, one phrase, to another. I hope it will catch you and make you want to listen on. If it doesn't have a sense of direction, then I don't think it will pull you along".
"You can almost verbalise which notes are the important ones; which notes you aim for, which phrase, which climaxes. And how you aim at them. I want to know the whole piece, in the same way as you know your whole road from your house to the pub. You can imagine the whole road in an instant. You know when you're going to turn a corner and you can prepare for it. In the same way you can prepare your audience for the next corner, the next climax, the next cadence or whatever. If you do it well you can achieve a more architectural structure out of a piece."
That sounded so planned, so prearranged that any spontaneity would vanish after the first bar. But changes were made within that architectural structure. In fact, said David, everything got changed.
"I work on my technique so that if I suddenly want to go into a decrescendo where up to now I've worked into a crescendo, or do a backwards rubato, letting something go forward where previously I've done the opposite, then I want to be able to do it that very instant on stage. I don't want to be tied up to having to work out every nuance, hoping it will come out as I have practised it. If you have these abilities it means that it's easier to give your listeners the impression it's the first and only time the piece is going to be played. It's more dangerous from my point of view, but it's more spontaneous."
Wouldn't a lot of composers quarrel with that?
"I agree, but they wouldn't quarrel with a good interpretation if it was successful and was played well so that people understood it. There is a difference between a couple of bars that you turn upside down and the whole intention over the entire span of the piece. There was a part of a piece I didn't understand. The composer wanted it ecstatically loud. As all guitarists know, it is difficult to make something sound ecstatically loud on the guitar. It starts to get staccato, a nasty sound. I was trying to get as much beauty as possible out of that part, trying to get what I thought the piece needed at that point; a certain kind of emotion. I was going completely against what the composer asked, and he had to tell me before I really understood what he meant. Now I try to make a beautiful fat tone, and loud, or at least give the impression to the audience that it's almost the climax."
"In Bach's Chaconne, for example, there are certain places where you wouldn't play quietly. You might want to for technical reasons, because it's easier, but it would be a mistake. On the other hand, within your build-up to that climax you may decide to play the bass notes quiet and the treble loud, and then turn it backwards for the next phrase. One day you may decide to come down to a pianissimo immediately after the climax, or you may decide on a long winding down. Both could be valid, so long as you do them well. I want to have the ability to change just at that instant, so that you don't actually think before you change. You don't say: Right, I am going to do a decrescendo. You simply play it because of the way you think. When you walk you don't actually think of putting the right foot in front of the left. You simply make the movement. Afterwards you realise that you could analyse what you've just done."
That, however, did not negate the preparation that went into each work.
"I think out my pieces very carefully so that if for some reason I'm not in the right mood, I know what the optimum way of doing it is. I've thought about ways of doing it. I don't just sit there and play and hope that the best things come." Nevertheless the apparently spontaneous feel about his performances is something audiences all over the world are relishing. The ability to make the music sound alive in that way is not given to every musician, and not every musician appears capable of acquiring it. There is even a body of opinion that deems it unnecessary, providing the composer's intentions are faithfully carried out. But it is something audiences respond to, even if they do not happen to be, in David's phrase "great connoisseurs of the guitar".
"It is said that people reach their mental peak at 18 and then go steadily downhill. I hope to reach my peak at 90. I intend to keep on developing. I don't want to stop here. Not yet."
"I've had thoughts about perhaps one day doing something completely different. But I'm far too involved in the guitar, and I like it too much to be able to do that. But I don't know, I might suddenly find something else that really draws me. For the moment I am a guitarist."

Cosmology in sounds (on Leo Brouwer's "La Espiral Eterna") by Eduardo Fernandez



The idea that music is, or should be, a reflection of the cosmic order of things is very old, dating from at least the Middle Ages and the beginnings of polyphony. In the Renaissance there was still explicit recognition of this idea. With the evolution of the musical language, music became more and more the expression of an individual, the composer, displacing the aesthetic accent to the personal instead of the universal. In the second half of the 20 th century, a few works have appeared where the old ideal of music as a sign of the cosmos is taken up again; none of them is as convincing and accomplished, in my opinion, as Leo Brouwer's La Espiral Eterna , written in 1971.
In my experience, the Espiral is one of the very few works written in a really modern style that are able to captivate any audience, even those unfamiliar with this style (and the Espiral is unthinkable without a very wide repertoire of previous works; the most notable antecedents would be Continuum for harpsichord, by Ligeti, and the early works of Stockhausen and Penderecki). By "modern", I mean here only that this work could not possibly have been written before; by no means am I taking sides as to what is "modern" or "avant-garde". It is difficult to be on the "vanguard" if you don't know where "forward" lies. However that may be, audiences seem to sense intuitively that there is a deeper truth in the work that goes beyond the sound surface, however impressive and original it is; that listening to this work implies something more than merely following the musical discourse. In fact, so does any player who takes it up for studying. This article intends to try to find out why this happens, to explore the ways in which this work is conceived, and perhaps to serve as a companion to the study of the work.
I am well aware that programmatic interpretations are out of fashion. Nevertheless, a performer must have something on mind when tackling a new work, and in my view it is far better to have an image obtained through analysis and imagination than the beautiful blonde (or blond) in the second row. The analysis that follows may well be a delirium, not unlike that of finding universal numerical clues on the Gizeh pyramid. Anyway, I venture to put it forward, hoping that someone else will also find it interesting. Please refer to the score, Gitarren Archiv 423, B. Schott's Söhne, Mainz.
The basic idea of the work is manifest in the quotation that appears on the first page: "Por primera vez se reveló en los cielos la famosa estructura espiral empleada con derroche por la naturaleza en el mundo orgánico" (more or less: "For the first time was revealed in the heavens the famous spiral structure that Nature had employed with such abandon in the organic world"). The quotation is taken from a book on astrophysics, "The Structure of the Universe", by G.J. Whitrow. The message is clear: the same structure appears in heaven and in living creatures; the whole Universe is made up in the same way, following the same laws, forming the same structures at every level of being. Whitrow's phrase implies, in its original context, nothing more than a recognition of the same basic structure in galaxies and the organic world – not necessarily a revelation of the underlying principle of the Universe. Brouwer's imaginative step anticipated, in fact, scientifical discoveries still to come. We have to remember, this is several years before Carl Sagan made these ideas a commonplace of contemporary culture (and he did not appear in Cuban TV, as far as I know...)
The work is divided in four main sections, designated A,B,C, and D. Let's take them one by one.
  1. THE GAS CLOUD
    The Espiral begins with a ppp , almost inaudible; the object presented is not necessarily small, but only far away (yet). We are approaching it, so it seems a good idea to start not from ppp , but from silence. What object is this? We hear a group of three notes, D-E-D#, repeated continuosly at high speed (as fast as possible, in fact). It is not too farfetched to see in this group a spiral in embryo:
E
D#
D
To "see" the spiral shape, imagine a curved line connecting the three notes; the repetition, that makes us listen to the three notes in circulation, is an exact correspondence of a rapid rotation of the group. To the eyes of the imagination, we have here a spiral rotating very quickly before our ears, and it does not seem too far-fetched to take this as an analogy (in sound) of the first stage in the life of a star: a gas cloud. The pattern of "two steps forward, one back" is even reflected in the strings in which the notes are to be played: 3 rd , 1 st , 2 nd . This pattern is of course the basic cell of the whole work.
This object evolves in the whole of section A, and the parameters of its evolution are:
  • the pitches on each group, or rather, the range of pitches on each group;
  • the number of notes on each group, which determine a rythm of sorts: since all notes have the same duration (as short as possible), a group of 4 notes lasts longer than a group of 3 notes (this should be made clear in performance, avoiding the impression of, for example, a triplet on group 1 and four sixteenth-notes on group 2);
  • most important, the differentials in each of the two previous parameters, that is, a)growth or lessening of the number of notes from one group to the next, and b)widening or narrowing of the range of pitches from one group to the next.
The 24 groups that appear in section A can be grouped themselves in seven cycles, as follows:
  • Cycle 1: groups 1, 2, 3
  • Cycle 2: groups 3, 4, 5, 6
  • Cycle 3: groups 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
  • Cycle 4: groups 11, 12, 13
  • Cycle 5: groups 13, 14, 15
  • Cycle 6: groups 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20
  • Cycle 7: groups 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
As we can see, every cycle begins and ends with a three-note group, and the number of groups on each cycle follows a spiral-like pattern as well: respectively, 3, 4, 6, 3 / 3, 6, 5. Or, substracting 3 : 0, 1, 2, 0 / 0, 3, 2. The reason to substract 3 is to find out the underlying structure, which as we shall see, is based on Fibonacci's series. This numerical series begins with 1, 1: each following term is the sum of the two preceding. So the third term is 2 (1+1), the fourth is 3 (2+1), the fifth is 5 (3+2). The series is then: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21... This series is interesting for several reasons. First of all, it is often encountered in Nature (count, for instance, the number of leaves on each side of a branch). It gives the eye or ear the impression of a "natural" growing principle. Also, when the terms are big enough, the relationship between one term and the preceding one approaches the "golden measure" (approx. 0.618), which establishes the way of dividing a line so that the lesser part is to the bigger part what the biggest part is to the whole. This is routinely used in architecture, and has been used in music many times. Bártok made of it one of his main formal principles, and Brouwer uses it often.
If we consider the range of pitches, then the starting point is 2, and we have a different grouping of cycles:
  1. 1-2-3;
  2. 3-4-5-6;
  3. 6-7-8-9-10-11;
  4. 11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-20-21-22 (the last two groups are below the minimum level of 2).
Please notice the growing number of groups on each cycle: 3, 4, 6, 12.
The dynamics follow a similar growing spiral-like pattern, but as it is more clear to the eye, I shall concentrate on the other parameters. It is important to notice that the dynamic evolution does not coincide with the groups, and to make this evident in performance.
The following table intends to give an overview of what happens in section A (leaving dynamics aside):
Cycle#/ Group #
Length in Notes
Difference in length
Range of pitches (in semitones)
Maximum of difference in range, per cycle
Effect
I. 1
3
0
2

Gas cloud
2
4
1
3
A. 1
Expansion upwards
II. 3
3
0
2

Contraction
4
4
1
3
B. 1
Expansion down
5
6
2
3

More activity
III. 6
3
0
2

Displacement upwards
7
4
1
3

Expansion upwards
8
8
5
4
C. 2
Expansion upwards
9
4
1
3

Displacement downwards
10
4
1
3

Displacement downwards
IV. 11
3
0
2

Contraction downwards
12
4
1
4

Expansion downwards
V. 13
3
0
4

Contraction
14
4
1
5

Expansion downwards
VI. 15
3
0
4

Contraction
16
7
4
3

Expansion downwards
17
7
4
4

Displacement downwards
18
4
1
4
D. 3
Expansion downwards
19
8
5
5

Expansion downwards
VII. 20
3
0
4

Contraction upwards
21
13
10
4

More activity
22
3
0
2

Contraction upwards
23
3
0
1

Contraction upwards
24
3
0
0

Contraction upwards
A few things are apparent from the table:
  • if we look at the length of each group, although each cycle expands and contracts, the expansion is always greater than in the preceding cycle: 1, 2, 5, 4+4 = 8 (plus a 5), 10. (the longest group has 13 notes, # 21). The general tendency is, then, towards expansion. These numbers suggest that the Fibonacci series is in operation.
  • The last cycle is particularly interesting: it presents the group with the most notes 13, in group 21), which translates as a great increase in activity, followed by a contraction .
  • The maximum of difference per cycle in pitch range (a complicated way of saying how big this range gets on each cycle) is the first 4 terms in the Fibonacci series: 1, 1, 2, 3. Also an expansion, which not only overlaps with the cycling in terms of length, but one in which as the cycle gets bigger, the pitch range also gets bigger.
All this together, which of course is not meant to be perceived directly by the listener, conveys subliminally the feeling of an underlying order, in which the material obeys laws, however complex, and it is this feeling of order, proportion and activity directed towards a goal (however unpredictable at the moment) what the listener hears in this section.
What does this point to? My interpretation would be that the cloud is rotating more and more rapidly, as gravity pulls it together. The last note, which can be played either ppp or as a ff Bártok pizzicato, represents in my view the first "solids" generated in the process.
Another possible view is to consider the section in terms of attack and resonance. In this view, all of section A, excepting the last note, would be a "resonance", and the last note would be an "attack".
Once the first solid has been generated (big or small, ppp or ff , it doesn't really matter which) then the view of the process changes. We need to watch things from closer, and this is what happens in section B.
  1. THE STAR BEING BORN
  2. Section B begins reversing the resonance/attack pattern that comprised the whole of section A. The first three groups consist of a composite attack (noise+sound) plus one resonance each. The pitches of the attacks, E flat – F – C sharp are recognizable as the initial cell after an expansion (a whole tone instead of a semitone), and a retrograde. The spiral pattern is now:
    F
    E flat
    C sharp
    Seeing things bigger means that we are closer to the object. As we get closer, it becomes apparent that the same overall structure (attack/resonance) is encountered everywhere inside the object as well. In fact, B1 and B2 consist exclusively on this pattern.
    The first three groups of B1 have contracting lengths: 10-6-5 (notice that the resonance is modulated by accelerandi/rallentandi, also a form of "spiraling" tempo. The last group is a transition to the"fast" section that follows.
    B2 begins with three pitches that are, to no one's surprise by now, based on a slightly irregular expansion of the initial basic cell: C sharp – G sharp – F. C sharp was of course the last pitch played as an attack in the previous section, B1. From there, 3 ½ tones up is G sharp, and four tones down is F. The spiral is now much bigger (notice the octave expansion), with this shape:
    G sharp
    C sharp
    F
    Towards the end of B2, the attacks begin to multiply, first two, then four, then eight. Let us look closely at the last group, that closes B2: G#-F#-D-E-C-B-A#-D#. This is made up of three different versions of the basic cell:
    Version 1: G# - F#..................................................................G natural (present on the first group of B3)
    (inversion of original cell)
    Version 2: D – E - ...........................D# (original cell at original state)
    Version 3: C – B – A#
    (permutation of original cell)
    Something significant is happening in the gas cloud: the basic pattern is generating ever more complex versions of itself. In this context, I propose to see B3 as another change in scale, starting with the sound space divided in semitones and moving progressively towards a microtonal space. Of course, all of B3 consists in resonance, modulated by the change in sound color from normal to pizzicato. The spiraling pattern of ascent is clear in the score. The three notes at the end can be seen as a "flattened" version of the original cell.

  3. BELOW THE MOLECULAR LEVEL

  4. At first glance, section C seems to suggest to the player that "anything goes". This is, of course, not quite the case. The patterns to be played with both hands on the fingerboard are, of course, the basic cell: 3-1-2 with left hand, i-a-m with right hand. This comes out very clearly if, as Brouwer suggests, the left thumb is held over the strings, damping them (in the position cellists use for playing ultrahigh passages), so as to dampen the resonance produced behind the point of impact of the fingers. What will come out of these actions is an irregular overlapping pattern generated by the basic cell, mostly at tritone or fourth amplitude, expanding and contracting irregularly as the result of the speed cycles overlapping. This is definitely, in my view, a section where the player should have the score before his/her eyes when playing it; nothing is so difficult to generate as irregularity, and one should be reacting to the score every time as if it was the first.
    At atomic level, all interactions are regulated by the laws of quantum mechanics: these laws are probabilistic in nature, and I think there is a correspondence between the object and its musical sign here: it would not make much sense to try to write precisely actions that must be indetermined, by their very nature.
    The ending of section C suggests going still deeper down, into some kind of mystery; in fact, it is nothing less than the appearance of life forms, as the next stage of evolution. This happens before our eyes in section D.
  5. LIFE APPEARS
Section D is divided in four. In D1, we have again the basic cell, expanded along three octaves and permutated (F#-G-A#). What is absolutely new and almost shocking is the way in which this cell appears. There is a rythm imposed on it; a recognizable, danceable, pleasant, Cuban rythm. This forms a sort of landscape against which the next section develops. I would say that this "landscape" corresponds to the appearence of plants and animal life, setting the stage for the next step.
In D2, the rythm becomes fast, and superimposed to this resonance are sharp, cutting attacks. The intervals used are, suggestively, sixths and thirds, the most "human" of intervals. Is it too farfetched to think that this symbolizes human life, permutating endlessly over the planet's landscape? Probably only a Cuban could think of human history as a dance, but isn't it a nice idea?... The rallentando and diminuendo at the end is announcing another change of scale, which comes about in section D3.
D3 takes the cell to the maximun possible expansion in the guitar: from lowest to highest note. Every group is played twice, so let's analyze what happens with them. The following table helps to see the process:
Group # Nº pitches Nº notes (= duration of group) Effect
1 5 (E-D-C#-C-B), ascending and descending 8 Maximum expansion, quasi-chromatic scale
2 4 (E-F-F#-G), ascending and descending 6 Somewhat contracted, accelerating (less duration).Chromatic scale.
3 5 (E-D-C-B flat-A flat), ascending (but descending pitches) 5 Somewhat expanded, accelerating, whole-tone scale. Ascending movement only, seems to increase speed.
4 4 (E-D#-D-C#), ascending, with descending pitches 4 Contracted, accelerating, chromatic scale.
5 3 (G-A flat- D), descending 3 Contracted, accelerating, distorted form of basic cell.
6, 7 "Infinite", chaotic but based on basic cell (especially group 6, if seen as 3+4 pitches) 26 Explosion.
It does not take much imagination to see this as the final process in the life of a star: the contraction and explosion.
This generates a new complex solid, or a double attack (F#-G played as a Bártok pizzicato), followed by a resonance using the pitches of the basic cell in scale form. This pattern appears three times, and it is interesting to notice the pitches used in the resonances:
E-F-G flat
D-D#-E
C-C#-D
The spiral shape, this time composed of little spirals, is again in evidence. The duration of the patterns is also in spiral shape: 12-9-"infinite" (25 seconds).
The ending of the work, D4, suggests another gas cloud, for the moment chaotic, but as it loses itself in the distance of interstellar space (diminuendo to ppp and 6 seconds silence at the end), it is not hard to foresee what will happen: the whole process is about to begin again; in fact, it seems to go on behind the final silence. "In my end is my beginning..."
One last fanciful digression. The first three pitches of the work, and the last three, seem to suggest an open-ended spiral:
X-Y-Z?
D-D#-E
C-C#-D
No doubt the next step, which we won't be able to hear, will use the pitches E-F-F# ..!

Manuel Barrueco Talks to David Russell

http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/PNKc9qUN8AE/mqdefault.jpg 


We're sitting in a restaurant in Baltimore after David's class at the Peabody Conservatory, and his recital last night. We are having dinner with about 20 students. Manuel has long wanted to do an "interview" with David, pick his brains a little bit. Here is a transcription of the conversation.

Manuel Barrueco: Is it my imagination or did I see your little finger shaking a little bit last night?
David Russell: I always shake a little bit just to make sure that the audience and the guitarists know that I'm not using beta blockers... (laughter)
MB: I wasn't expecting that answer.
DR: You're supposed to ask me if I can expand on that...
MB: Can you expand on that, please?
DR: I always get a little bit nervous when friends like you are in the audience. I want to play well and it puts a little bit of extra pressure. Sometimes I will finger things so that I don't have too many open strings. I hate having all the fingers in the air because they will all shake like hell, so I'll stick down fingers in odd places on notes that I'm not going to play even though I'm not particularly nervous. It doesn't seem to cause any great problems unless I get REALLY nervous, but it's a tremor that has been there since I was young. I've learned to live with it and it doesn't really cause me any problems. But I hate the fact that the first row or the first few people or sometimes even the whole audience can see it. I really don't like that, I wish it didn't happen. If they see it they sometimes think "He must be nervous, his fingers are shaking" even when I'm not particularly nervous my fingers shake a little bit, it's just the excitement of the situation.
I kind of like the challenge of a little bit of nerves.... it gives me an extra something. We concert players are a little bit like race-car drivers or mountain climbers, we do it because it's dangerous, except that we don't put our lives in danger, we just put our ego on the line. It's my challenge in life to do a concert as well as I can. Ok? expanded?
David continues: ... and I mentioned the joke about beta blockers, I've never taken them, never tried them. I've asked a few doctors about them and it is a subject, that if anyone is interested in taking them, they should always discuss it with a doctor first. I joked about it before, but it is really a serious thing.
MB: Have you done any other drugs....? No, just joking. I think that sometimes people that don't play concerts think that we don't get nervous. What was happening to me yesterday in your concert, was that I felt nervous before you came out. I was nervous for you. Then, all of a sudden, I was nervous for myself. I was thinking: "Oh my God, I'm going to have to do this..., why am I doing this to myself [playing concerts]? Am I crazy?" It's an incredible fear.
DR: We should really think quite harder about why we do it. We sometimes joke that there is a better way of making a living, but on the other hand there is something exciting about doing something that has a touch of danger, or that we feel a touch of danger, and that we are laying ourselves on the line. I really quite enjoy that challenge. It gives you a reason to get up in the morning, a reason to move forward and try again or try better. We're lucky, when it goes well it's great, we get our egos stroked a lot, people say lots of nice things, audience are clapping for you and standing up. It's a really great high, and it's fun! But, it means that we have to continuously do things to maintain that. This is looking at it from a selfish point of view, regardless of whether you're in music or something else. Being on stage doing something that gets this kind of communication going, you find that you're actually manipulating people's feelings. You're doing something with music that makes them feel something within the music, that if you didn't do it, they wouldn't be able to feel it.
MB: What do you do to manage your nerves?
DR: I get really upset when I do have an off night. It's really not a nice feeling, very upsetting, embarrassing or whatever . But if I have done my work and I've done my best, my conscious is clear, I feel ok, at night I sleep. I've done my best and that's very important.
When I do mess up, instead of having this massive bad reaction and whipping myself and getting angry, I try to keep my mind on: "It's really sad that the people haven't been able to enjoy this phrase and the music so much". I have to avoid thinking: "The people haven't been able to think so much of me". If you keep that in mind, it avoids this thing about you being on a test. Also, when it goes well, I try to think: "It's great that you were able to hear how great this phrase could be".
For example [to a student] you played Barrios' Julia Florida in the class today. I know the first time you didn't play it so well and that you can play it better, but there were some bits that were great. So, as soon as you hit the good bit you have to say to yourself: "Oh that was great"! It's a strange thing that happens, you sit at home and practice and it's late at night and you say: "Oh this sounds great!" But you sit on stage and you say:" Oh that sounds horrible!" It's the wrong way! It should be that at home one is concentrating on practicing, and when in front of an audience you should think: "Beautiful piece, beautiful moment". You mess one up, but so what? The next one will be better. For me this is really important , it's very easy to be negative with yourself.
MB: We've talked about this often [to the student], when you see someone making a mistake and they get very angry and punish themselves. It seems like a humble thing but in fact it's not! One thing that helps me a lot, is to realize that I am going to make mistakes, so when I make one I'm not going to punish myself because I never expected perfection to begin with!
DR: I haven't heard you make one...
MB: Well I did, it was nineteen eighty...... (laughing) it took a lot of alcohol to get over that one.
DR: No, but you're absolutely right, and sometimes people make faces and I must say I've sometimes done it, but I've basically gotten rid of it. When you make a face, it's a bit like telling the audience: "I don't normally make mistakes!" It's silly, you only transmit your bad feeling to the audience. Next question!
MB: What happens when you're playing, for example, a piece like the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro [Bach], which everybody knows?
DR: [Laughs] ...
MB: No, really, I'm not putting you on the spot. Let me tell you a story, the first time I played it it was in Japan, and my agent was waiting for me when I got off stage, and he said: "Oh..... Prelude, Fugue and... Andante"
[lots of laughs from David] Obviously when you're playing something the audience knows very well, and especially if you're in a certain position the people expect a certain level...
DR: Yeah, when you play a well known piece, unfortunately, you've got to nail it! It is a different kind of challenge than when you play a lesser known piece, especially if it's the PF&A because it's one of the pieces that many, many people know.
If I feel that a lot of other interpretations of a piece are stronger than mine, I probably won't play it. At least until I find that my interpretation is valid enough, or strong enough, or different enough. There are some modern pieces that I feel that other people play better than I do, so I don't play them! Maybe one day if I really put my heart into it, I will be able to play them well enough that I feel that my contribution is worth it. Then I'll do it. With the PF&A I feel that my version is valid enough and personal enough for people to really enjoy it, and I feel that I play the piece well enough to where I'm going to be satisfied.
MB: So now you're at the concert and you're going to play one of these pieces.... because you've had this process beforehand, by the time you go to play the piece you're not aware of the fact that you're going to play something everybody knows?
DR: I understand what you mean, and no, I don't really think that's in my mind. I'm really not that aware of it. It's not so much if people have heard Pepe Romero or Manuel Barrueco play it. It's more like if you play something all the students play, which are often half your audience. I really don't like on the day of a concert or the day before, to do a master class where some of my repertoire is played in the class. I don't really like it. Today some people played the PF&A I played yesterday, and I felt completely free to be flexible and to work within that person's way of interpreting it. If it was the day of a concert or the day before I'm going to play it, they would have to do it my way! Then I'm not flexible enough to accept other ways. And it worries me if I press my ways and tell them that they really have to try this, then in a concert I'm far too conscious. I'm not just "doing it", I'm consciously doing it, it's not free.
I remember you once saying, and I've said it in many master classes when people ask me about memory. It was on the day of your concert in Quebec and somebody asked you: "Mr. Barrueco what do you do for your memory?" and you said: "Rule number one: On the day of your concert, never talk about memory!"
MB: Did I say that? That was pretty smart...
DR: I'm telling you I've used that - and even given you credit for it - because I agree entirely. And also, if possible, not to have to work on the piece either on a concert day.
MB: Another memory story: I was giving a lesson on how to memorize to one of my students and in the middle of it I forgot what I was saying! Next thing I know the student was on the floor laughing and of course I didn't know why, so I asked him why he was laughing and he told me that I had forgotten what I was saying...
[laughter]
MB continues: You have a very distinct style, there is a David Russell Style. Where does that come from, what are the influences?
DR: This whole thing about a distinct style is a big subject and I think maybe quite an important subject as each of us develop and grow up or mature. I think it's quite difficult to develop your own style on purpose. There are some young people who try to do it and they usually sound quite cocky. You Manuel also have a very distinct style, I hear you on the radio and I know it's you. That comes through familiarization, people hear you often enough to recognize you. I don't think it's something that you can consciously develop. You slowly become more and more aware of your own ways of approaching a phrase, your own way of distinguishing a classical piece from a baroque piece, how you make them different, how you approach cadences when you go into a real romantic piece. Of course you do it just by feel at first, but eventually there is a whole reasoning behind it. You are able to give reasons as to why this note should be there or not.
Going back one step to answer your question of where my styles comes from, I come from a very artistic family, my parents are artists and all my brothers and sisters except one are artists. We lived like bohemians in a van for years, moving around different places. When I went to study in London, I was lucky to live in the basement of a violinist's house and I studied the violin.
I think certainly some people have stronger personalities than others and maybe the person that has a less obvious personality maybe needs to work on it and think about it, find ways to develop it.
[To a student] If you think of Manuel and I, it's kind of strange, Manuel comes from a Latin origin and then grew up in an English speaking American culture, and I was the opposite, came from Scotland and then grew up in a Latin place. All these little cross over things make you perhaps have a wider range of experiences in terms of culture etc. We're both bilingual, and all these things help you. The more varied your life experiences are, the more you bring to your music.
MB: When I hear you teach, the musical terms and the language you use, I don't hear it with other guitar teachers I've heard. Is that something you've learned in the guitar world you've known, or is that something you've acquired in other places?
DR: There are a whole lot of things that happen within a master class. The whole psychology game with the student, specially because in a master class you have the person for a very short time and you don't actually know that person. You hope to find a little something you understand, or something you can connect with. There are different ways of helping people and the way it worked out today was through convincing them musically, because I wasn't going to have time to help them directly technically. Does this make sense?
MB: Oh, yes. But what I was referring to was that the way you sounded to me was that you could have been any musician speaking about music. That's not usually what I hear in the "guitar world".
DR: Well, I lived in London in a not very guitaristic world for many years. But we have to be careful, there is certain amount of Guitar Whipping, and I don't think that f. ex. the violinists are any better because they are so mixed up in their own world, or the Horn players. I used to play the French horn, my mother was married to a French horn player and they are all caught up in their own world as well. Pianists don't listen to anything but piano. In some ways they all suffer the same things we suffer. But if you go to other master classes from other instruments, you hear them talk about slightly different things but they also apply to us. So, what you're saying is probably partly because I played these other instruments, because of the people I was mixed up with in London, my interests at that time. That's probably the reason more than anything.
F. Ex. I studied with José Tomás in Alicante, Spain, and that was great. Very direct and very clear ideas. That's the way I'd like to be taught. He was able to crucify me without depressing me and that for me is very important. He was able to get to my problems and give me solutions. Teaching must be positive, negative teaching is useless. Isn't it funny that if you play for somebody and they say to you " You're slurs are not very good but your tremolo is good" you go home and practice your tremolo whereas what you should be practicing is your slurs! In my teaching I use as many things as I can hopefully without depressing or pulling down the student, regardless of their level or their talent.
MB: Do you think one can become musically knowledgeable within the guitar world?
DR: I think you can. I think any one instrument can become musically knowledgeable within that instrument. We tend to say: "It's either a guitarist or a musician" and I don't feel that's quite right, even though, of course, there is a certain amount of that. I think that our little guitar world is something special, but I would like to encourage guitarists to at least learn another instrument and have some experiences actively in music that are not only with the guitar. At least play chamber music.

MB: If I told you that listening to your concert last night I heard Segovia in your playing, how would you react to that?
DR: For many many years I was kind of an imitation of Segovia. At the age of 14, I could hardly read music but I could play really badly Dance # 5 and 10 by Granados, and Granada and Sevilla by Albéniz. My father and I didn't really read music well, we basically had taken the music from the records. He had all these 78rpm records with Segovia. So, of course, I copied his interpretations as well. For many years Segovia was my idol.
MB: Let me rephrase the question. If I told you that I heard some qualities of Segovia in your playing, what do you think I was referring to?
DR: Maybe about some moments in Torroba, but I really don't know. You're going to have to tell me what you mean.
MB: What I mean by that is Segovia in his playing has a sensuality, which can be heard in the more lyrical passages of your playing. Does that make any sense to you?
DR: Yes, it does, it is something that I enjoy in his playing. The word sensual almost implies sexual, and I think there is sometimes almost a physical pleasure in music at times. I enjoy the way the notes are almost tangible, you can see them shaking, growing, and that is something Segovia did extremely well.
MB: I was curious to see if you would take my comment as something negative, because a lot of people have criticized him.
DR: I think it's really important for our generation and the next generation to find a different way, that is just as expressive and just as sensual. There are many, many ways of being expressive. I know that I was very influenced by Segovia and I had to take away some of that when I first came to London, because I realized that basically all I did was copying him. That's the way I had grown up.
MB: I was trying to put together in my head what it is that I hear in your playing, as I mentioned, I hear these qualities that Segovia had, like your warm sound, but at the same time you seem to have a very modern training. I was wondering if it is this mixture that makes your style? Nobody sits in a vacuum, we all pick from others. And also, there is nothing wrong in saying to a student: "You should not sound like Segovia", that is not necessarily a criticism of Segovia. If I was a painter and had a student that was painting cubism I would say: "Listen, let's go on" but it doesn't mean that I'm putting down Picasso because of it.
Segovia was great for his time and I think he is very unfairly criticized.
It's very easy to criticize somebody's work. I think the problem is that some people thought of him as being God, and when you compare him to God, of course the guy falls short...
DR: You know, sometimes it's worthwhile consciously copying exactly what somebody else has done in their phrases. When you copy really consciously you actually have the physical experience of making the same sounds and the same phrases and the same mixture of sounds and the same balance. It's very difficult! Not just make a caricature, but really get as close to what they've done to find out how they did it. I think you can learn from that. When I got to London I was tired of the Segovia thing and then suddenly it was Julian Bream! He was a big thing when I first got there. I tried to copy it exactly the way he did it, where he made the sounds,I tried to come as close as possible to what he did. For me it was a really good experience.
MB: Did you have contact with Segovia at all?
DR: I played for him in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, privately because I wasn't in the master class. He was very nice, wrote a letter for me, and he said to me that when he was in London he wanted his wife to listen to me. I was very flattered and a couple of months later when he came to London I phoned him up and he told me to come the day after his concert. I went there but there was no wife there! I played for him and he started to tell stories which went on for a long time, over an hour. Then suddenly from the bathroom we heard: "Cling, cling" you know the sound when you drop a glass bottle in a sink it makes a lot of noise. Then Segovia suddenly said: "Oh dear, you have to leave, my wife is in the bathroom..." so I left and never met the wife! I can just imagine her saying that she didn't want to hear another young guitarist, and went on to have a bath. He probably just forgot about her... that must have been it because he was in the middle of telling all these stories, he was all excited, it was great listening to him.
MB: So he was very helpful?
DR: Oh yes, very. He commented to other people about me and was very nice. At that time I was moving out of London and I really didn't take advantage of his help. I was pretty immature in some ways, like business-wise, and I think I missed an opportunity there a little bit. He was great, it was good for my ego.
MB: It's funny because as I was listening to you in your concert I kept wondering what Segovia would have thought if he had heard you.
DR: He was great. I played him Capricho Diabolico by Tedesco and some Ascencio music and some Granados...
MB: Did he ever write one of these letters about you?
DR: Yes.
MB: What did he say?
DR: He said "My congratulations for your guitaristic technique..." or something like that, you know this stuff we all write... Something about a guitaristic technique and musicality.
MB: Another thing I thought would be interesting for the students to hear, because you said you had developed a lot between the age of 18-24.
DR: Some people mature much earlier both physically and mentally. I lived until I was 14 or 15 in a village in Menorca, Spain, of 800 people, with no musical influence except for my family and Segovia's records and the other records that my parents had. So, when I got to London I was way behind in lots and lots of things. I could hardly read music, that was ridiculous when I think about it, but I could play pretty well. But it took me years to learn pieces because I did it just by ear, and sometimes by working out - F A C E etc. on the finger board, it was really bad. So I had a lot of catching up to do. Also, I grew at least 2 inches after the age of 18!
MB: Really?
DR: Yeah, [laughs...] So there were a whole lot of things that at the age of 18 I was way behind on. I see many people now at the age of 18 that play better that I could at that age - and I see many 24 year olds that play partly better that I could. By the age of 24 I think I more or less had it together, even though I wasn't really ready. There were lots of things that were unfinished, and lots of technique problems. It would be great if we were all prodigies and could play the Chaconne by the age of 16 but that wasn't my case. In some ways it gives me a certain attitude towards somebody who is 24 and is still having certain problems, because I can sympathize with them. I have some old tapes of myself of that time, they are ok, but there is a noticeable difference between then and when I was maybe 28. At that time I think I started to hit my level. At the age of 24 I won all these competitions, I was certainly well enough prepared in comparison to some of the other people that were around in those years, but nowadays there are lots of good players, the standard is pretty high. [To the students] So don't give up hope, there is hope after the age of 28. Also, you can become a wonderful musician without having an incredibly rapid or incredibly agile technique. Certainly, more technique will help you as long as your musical desire is in front of your technical desire. I know some people who are technically limited, they don't have Manuel's technique or whatever, but they can play really good concerts. So you need to find out your limitations and your qualities, and show your qualities, develop your qualities.
MB: I find that a lot of times people think that when you are concertizing it's all glamor. One memory that I have is of seeing you in Finland. I think you had flown from the US, went on to teach a master class, and then you played a concert that night after having slept a little bit. Your eyes were right on the floor, red, but you went on playing a hell of a concert. Do you remember that?
DR: Thank you but I don't remember the concert.
MB: I guess what I'm driving at is that sometimes people don't realize under what conditions one sometimes has to perform, and even on our level it's very hard.
DR: Yes, for example last week, in 24 hours I played 3 concerts... two programs!
MB: How did you do that? I mean how did you fit it in 24 hours.
DR: Well, it was a evening concert, the day after a mid-day concert and a evening concert!
MB: So which was the best one?
DR: Oddly enough, probably the last one. I was well prepared, I worked very hard for it. The agents do all these deals for you, and sometimes I'm not too careful as to what's happening. I should be more careful because these things sometimes happen and you very often end up in a very unglamorous situation... I played 4 concerts and taught one master class in a couple of days. I'm sure you have had situations that are similar.
But I've done ones that are more glamorous - I have sat in the back seat of a car practicing on my way to the golf course, played a round of golf and then practiced on the way back and then I played a concert...
MB: Oh, you were that handsome guy in the back seat of the Lexus?
DR: [Laughing] No, by the way, did you get to play golf after your Lexus gig?
MB: No.
DR: But really, I didn't mean it as a joke! The last concert I did in Seattle I really wanted to play golf with these friends, so I sat in the car and practiced all the way to the golf course...
MB: I practice in the car all the time.
DR: Oh really?
MB: Yes, sometimes I just don't have time to do all the things I have to do. The New Jersey Turnpike is polluted with my sounds. In fact, when I did that commercial I was used to playing in the car because sometimes it's the only time I get to practice!
Talking about glamorous, sometimes people say that so and so does 150 concerts a year, as if it was a great thing! To me it sounds like slavery, it sounds insane! I guess it does represent a certain amount of success and a certain number of trips to the bank you know, but other than that...
On a different note, what other recordings are you doing?
DR: I just finished a recording of Torroba that will be coming out soon on Telarc. It's all the well known pieces except the Piezas Caracteristicas.
MB: Do you like recording?
DR: Yes I like it more and more. I have had some bad experiences and some good experiences. As time goes on I kind of remember more the good experiences and forget about the bad ones. I'm basically positive, which is why Phil wrote that piece called "The Good Luck" waltz, he said "You're just such a lucky bugger". I've had some really horrible recording experiences that I don't really like to remember, that were too hard or too uncomfortable, f.ex. the recording of Tárrega. I had a great time even though some of them were really difficult. So, I enjoy listening to it, it was a good experience. The Torroba was a good experience. I'm really looking forward to the record because it was a great couple of days.
MB: Where was the Torroba done?
DR: It was done in a place called Mechanics Hall in Muster, Massachusetts. It was far too cold, about 18% humidity. I had to keep on breathing on the guitar, cover it with wet towels, it was crazy, there were a lot of extra difficulties, but I thought the playing experience was good. We also lost hundreds of takes because of a bus-stop! Every time a bus would stop, the rumble came through. During the Barrios one, hundreds of takes were also lost with women with high heals walking past the hall. It came through - tack, tack, tack, tack...
MB: So my final question: I'm told that your wife María is getting fed up with all the trophies you are winning playing golf...
DR: (laughing) You know I'm much more proud of having won the J&B Whiskey Championship for second year running, than my Barrios record... I love playing golf. I love doing things outside. I used to play tennis a lot, but tennis is not too good for your hands. It makes you a bit too muscle bound. I can play golf all morning and play a concert in the evening it doesn't really matter.