28 ene. 2013

Piazzolla - Assad Brothers

La idílica pareja de los hermanos Assad en una actuación interpretando el Andante y el Allegro de la obra de Piazzolla "Tango suite" que el propio compositor les dedicó, habiendo quedado fascinado de su calidad musical y técnica. En breve tendremos la fortuna de tenerles en exclusiva para MGE.

12 ene. 2013

Johannes Tonio Kreusch INTERVIEW III

New ideas for classical guitar (III)
Fernando Bartolomé for MGE

What would you say to a solo guitar student to encourage him to play with people on chamber music? What does a musician gain with it?
Especially for us guitarists it is very important to make early experiences in playing with other musicians. It helps to get a better feeling for rhythm, agogic and music in general. The initial idea of music is communication and not playing all the time alone. Playing with other instruments helps you as a guitarist also to broaden up your horizon and gives you new performance possibilities.

How did you entered in chamber music? What teacher has influenced more in this sense?
Since I come from a musical family it was always natural for me to make music with others. In fact one of my first active musical experiences was playing together with my brother on self-made instruments.
Sharon Isbin
I had Sharon Isbin and Eliot Fisk as guitar teachers and both have great experience with chamber music playing. Both had a major influence in increasing new chamber music repertoire for our instrument. Their work definitely inspired me to also put an emphasis on chamber music playing.

When you play with other people, what is the most effective way to use the time in the rehearsals?
The major thing is: be well prepared for the rehearsal!  And you should know as much as you can about the piece you are rehearsing before the first rehearsal starts. So you save time and you will get the best out of it.

Can you talk us about the Guitar Festival that you organize and lead in Germany?
Since several years, I´m the artistic director of the InternationalGuitar Festival in Hersbruck, Germany. In the past years we had guitar stars like Tommy Emmanuel, Leo Brouwer, Pepe Romero, David Russell, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, Alvaro Pierri, Eliot Fisk or Hopkinson Smith – to name just a few, but I´m always also presenting young exciting artists, which might be not so know to the general public. Over the last years I was also proud to present artists, which had never played solo in Germany before like Bill Kanengiser or Carlos Barbosa-Lima. Also the astonishing Brazilian guitarist Yamandu Costa played one of his first concerts in Europe in Hersbruck and received a record contract after his Hersbruck performance.

Johannes Tonio Kreusch
Next to the concerts and guitar classes, all over the week there are exihibitions, lectures, sessions, master classes, workshops and lessons at the festival center
My idea of the festival is to present a melting point of different styles and inspiring artists, where students and musicians all over the world can learn from each other and benefit from the different musical approaches. We have always also a great Jazz ensemble at the festival, which is available at the final night to jam with. It is always great to see, if also Classical players are open for this experience. One time for example, we had the great lutenist Robert Barto at the festival playing a wonderful all Weiss program. It was absolutely memorable, when he took up the electric guitar at the final night to jam with the jazz-band!
If you are interested to get more informations about the festival, than please visit www.gitarre-hersbruck.de

Next to my work as the artistic director of the International Guitar Festival in Hersbruck, I also founded – together with my brother the Jazz Pianist Cornelius Claudio Kreusch, the Munich based concert series OttobrunnerKonzerte.This series is not a guitar series – although we had guitarists like Ralph Towner, LAGQ, Pepe Romero or Badi Assad performing. We have great artists or ensembles from Jazz to Classical like The Hilliard Ensemble, Klaus Doldinger or The Berklee Allstars performing. The idea is to present contrasts between different styles. We contrasted for example a classical pianist playing Bachs “Goldberg Variationen“ in the first part with a great Jazz pianist improvising in the second part. Next to the concert we also have Meet the Artists conferences as well as workshops and masterclasses. This year, for example, the Berklee College of Music visited our series and they also hold 3 days of auditions for European applicants at our venue.

What about your concert activity and future projects?
Within the last years my touring schedule became much more demanding and I frequently publish recordings and scores.  Just recently the English version of my technique book was published.

Hommage à Heitor Villa-Lobos CD
Concerning my concert schedule, I have several projects, which I do perform with. I´m doing concerts with my own music, which is a mix between composition and improvisation.  Another of my actual solo-projects is my Hommage à Heitor Villa-Lobos program.  As I described before, over the last ten years I did researches with all different manuscripts of Villa-Lobos and all kinds of other sources related with his works. I first recorded his 12 Etudes and based my interpretation on this research. From this research I developed a lecture, which I hold at universities and festivals. I just published a new CD containing his Preludes and some of his widely unknown pieces from the manuscripts. Other programs of mine are the duo with my wife the violinist Doris Kreusch-Orsan or the crossover trio I have with my brother Cornelius Claudio.

You can get all informations about my current projects through my website: www.johannestoniokreusch.com

Interesting links

10 ene. 2013

Kreusch Interview II

             Johannes Tonio Kreusch
New ideas for classical guitar (II)

Fernando Bartolomé for MGE

In music education seems that, especially in the guitar world, teaching overestimates the importance of the instrument and ignores generic issues related to career development, maturation, other arts, other disciplines. So I know you recommend not to study long time with the same teacher and to look for several influences in order to get different points of view. Also you refer to the reading of a great poet: Rainer Maria Rilke Letters to a Young Poet. What can we find in it?
My main aim as a teacher is to accompany my students on their path to become independent and to find their own musical voice. I think that a teacher has a great responsibility, especially, when a student is planning to do music as a profession. In this case it is not just important to supply the student with the best musical and technical abilities but also to encourage her or him to get a broad education, which is not just based on musical skills. With a narrow minded view, one will have a very difficult time to exhaust all the individual possibilities, which life offers. I think it is very, very necessary to learn as much as you can and to get as much background informations as you can. As an artist you never know what life is preparing for you and it is careless to think: "Oh I want to be a performing artist and therefore I just learn how to play my instrument". As an artist especially, you must be as flexible as possible. Through learning, for example, other styles of music or through learning the harmonic context of music or even through learning conducting or how to compose, you could suddenly experience new abilities! And you will, in any case, be a better, which means more mature, performer!

Rainer Maria Rilke
Socrates once said “To learn means to remember.” I think this expression shows that everything we can learn is naturally inclined deeply inside of us. That does not mean, that we don´t have to work hard in order to successfully achieve progress. On the contrary: just if we really deeply grapple with certain problems, we will mature and overcome these problems. Socrates expression shows, that everybody has a great potential in learning, if one always tries to look behind the things and tries to critically question, what one is doing or what one gets imparted. In this case “to remember” means to realize, that everybody can train the ability to become independent and to find their own way to achieve progress and, for example, in music to overcome certain technical problems. Therefore the ancient Greeks called a teacher “paidagogós”, which means somebody who accompanies pupils. I think this is an essential point: It is very important, that a student doesn´t become dependent on the teacher. Following the expression of Socrates, a teacher should just accompany the student and impart her or him the right tools until the student is able to independently continue their path on their own. Every student has to find out by himself, when it is time to look for a new teacher. I strongly recommend students after a while to always look for new sources of inspiration. Concerning the book of Rilke, I think it gives beautiful ideas, if you as a young person are looking to find out, whether you want to go the path as a musician.

You are an artist who uses your musical improvisation as an important resource. As the teacher you are, have you used this resource with guitar groups? What resources do you use for this?
Next to the masterclasses and workshops I hold for Universities or Festivals, I offer also chamber music seminars. Part of these seminars are often also improvisatory courses.  I want to help the participants to experience first steps into the world of intuitive music making. I guide them through imaginative ideas and through helping them to carefully listen to each other. The results are mostly really exciting and the responses of the participants are often enthusiastic!

Improvisation does not enjoy good reputation in classical circles, in general terms. How do you introduce this practice to reluctant students, accustomed to the rigidity of the score?
Over the last 10 years I investigated a lot of time in the research of the guitar music by Heitor Villa-Lobos. I compared all available sources and found out, that the manuscripts by him vary strongly from most of the published versions. For me it was like a revelation to look through the manuscripts and to find his guitar works in a new light. I did two recordings of his works including the manuscript versions of some of his famous works (f.ex. 12 Etudes, 5 Preludios) as well as some of his most unknown pieces.  For me it was amazing to see, that Villa-Lobos always introduced new musical ideas into later versions of his pieces, so that for example no manuscript of the same piece was identical. He was somehow improvising with his ideas. As you know, in his musical life he started as autodidact and also as an improvisator. I tell that story to my students to help them to understand, that a score needs also to be looked at from different perspectives and that you always have to creat out of the moment – also if you interpret composed music. To have had experiences in improvisations definitely opens also new doors for the playing approach.
What is Crystallization? How was it created? Where can we find it?
The CD “Crystallization” is my first solo recording with exclusively my own music. You can get it, for example, through I-Tunes or you can order it through my website www.johannestoniokreusch.com.

Some pieces on this disc are purely improvised and some are composed. As I said before, in this music I make use of different scordatura tunings and preparations on the guitar.

Among many other things besides performer and teacher, you're a composer. Do you think every teacher of instrument should have some practice with the composition to include it as part of their classes?
For me it is a great help to have experiences in composing and improvisation also when I interpret other composer´s thoughts. It helps me to understand the composer´s intention better. Also my students appreciate if I help them to do first compositional steps.

You usually start your concerts with an improvisation. How do you do that?
As a way of breathing in, most of my concerts begin with an improvisation. This allows me not only to acquaint myself with the acoustic possibilities of the concert hall in every detail, but also to build up a very personal relationship with the audience. This kind of tone breathing-in of the acoustic and the direct search for sound can be a linking process for player and listener and make up the framework within which the pictures imagined by the composers gathered together can come to life.

I always prepare some ideas in which direction I want to go through my improvisations. Sometimes I´m inspired by the composition which will follow later in my recital.
I do have motives and rhythmical elements, which I prepare ahead and which I let flow during the improvisation into something complete. It is like telling a story: it is important to create a bow of tension through finding a good proportion of beginning, climax and ending.

My compositions mostly go a similar way. Through improvisation I often find ideas and motives, which I want to develop into something complex and which I write down and which build up the beginning of a compositional process. I would describe the way I compose like a painter who tries to paint through sounds, because I often have certain moods or atmospheres in my mind, when I´m composing.



(Continue on part III)

4 ene. 2013

Entrevista Kreusch

             Johannes Tonio Kreusch
New ideas for classical guitar (I) 
                    Fernando Bartolomé for MGE

I have a special feeling with Johannes Tonio Kreusch. He is an accomplished guitar player but has different features that make him stand out the crowd.

He has an absolute original way of playing the guitar and a personal way of understanding music.  You only have to listen to the Villalobos preludes for make an idea of what I’m trying to say.

Also he has a very active work as a composer and he has several works in the area of chamber music with guitar and he has collaborated with musicians like Markus Stockhausen or TulioPéramo. Johannes gently talks for MGE .

Photo by Detlef Schneider

What was it that introduced you to music and, secondly, what made you finally devote your life to music?
I come from a musical family. My mother is a classical pianist, my brother Cornelius Claudio Kreusch is a well known Jazz pianist, my wife is a violinists and my sister a visual artist. So music and art was always around also in my childhood.  My mother accompanied herself with the guitar singing her own children songs to us. So that was my first meeting with the guitar. I played quite a lot of different instruments like the piano, the clarinet and saxophone before I became serious with the guitar. When I first heard somebody playing the music of Bach on the guitar, I was totally electrified and began to really seriously start with the classical guitar.
What I love about the guitar and what attracted me from the beginning is its deep and modest sound, its warm and healing vibrations and its wonderful colours!
The great guitarist and poet Atahualpa Yupanqui puts it in better words: “The guitar is the only instrument when pressed upon one´s heart can express the landscapes of music and being human”.

How was the collaboration with Markus Stockhausen?
It was very inspiring to work with Markus. My brother Cornelius brought the two of us together and he also produced the CD. I recently collaborated and recorded with quite a few great artists like Andy York or Badi Assad. Working with such artists open up my mind an give me new musical impulses and ideas!

What did you learn from him? Do you know something about his “Intuitive music and more”?
His idea, that everybody should find his own voice in music through improvising is really great. It is a pitty, that Improvisation is not a part of everyone standard musical training. I wish it would be like that! I think improvising is helpful to everybody. Everybody is able to! I´m not speaking about knowing all about improvising and being able to play along with everybody. Just sit down and take your instrument and try to find a simple melody. Try to find a melody, which you really like and which you explored by yourself... To just do that can be a real treasure!
To improvise opens up the mind also for the interpretation of other composers thoughts. While performing, we have always to create out of the moment - no matter, whether we improvise or whether we interpret. To train our ability to improvise will have an important impact on the personal playing!

The trumpet and guitar duo is not usual for the obvious differences between them. Does it work for you due to the type of compositions you did for Panta Rhei?
I think that the guitar fits great with the trumpet. The guitar is a very versatile instrument, which works with a lot of combinations.  Next to the common chamber music combinations with violin, voice or flute, I have also played with instruments like piano or organ – and also in these cases it works!

Can you tell us about the pieces in which you play the prepared guitar? What experiments have you done?
On the Panta Rhei disc I play next to my classical guitar also a twelve string acoustic guitar and a steel string acoustic guitar. I use on every piece different tunings and also preparations on the guitar. I have a solo program with my own music in which I experience even more with all kinds of preparations. I use for example pen, rubber or other metal between the strings, so the guitar sounds sometimes like a different instrument - for example like an African Cora, an Indian Sitar or an Indonesian Gamelan.

Music of Panta Rhei is like a stream of songs that is slowly changing but always the same. There is a general link that, although the music changes, makes the atmosphere generated is always present. What is improvised on the CD and what is it composed? How was the recording?
The basis of the recording is improvisation. After the first takes where done, we started to work on each composition and recorded additional tracks. But we didn´t write anything down. Through the productional process, the improvisations, more and more, became compositions.

You have recorded a CD dedicated to Cuban composer Tulio Peramo. One of the works included is the piece in three movements Tres imágenes cubanas. What can you tell us about it?
Since we first met in 1994 at the Havana Guitar Festival, Tulio Peramo has written various guitar works for me, e.g. compositions for solo guitar, works for guitar and chamber music and concertos for guitar and orchestra. My CD Portraits of Cuba, with guitar music by Tulio Peramo, released in 2000, has turned out to be a great success. The works dedicated to me include the Quintet Tres Imágenes Cubanas, which I first performed at a chamber music series in Munich and later the orchestral version at the guitar festival in Havana on the invitation of Leo Brouwer in 1998. But he also wrote other great chamber music works for me. I premiered the song cycle Aires de la Tierra with the mezzo-soprano Nan-Maro Babakhanian in 1999 in New York´s Carnegie Recital Hall. At my Concert Series Ottobrunner Konzerte and the International Guitar Festival Hersbruck, the suite Piezas para violin y guitarra was premiered by me and my wife, the violinist Doris Kreusch-Orsan.  When I was invited by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Cardiff University, I premiered the Cinco Preludios his latest solo work for guitar, which he dedicated to me in Cardiff in 2006. This cycle can be heard on my latest disc Hommage à Heitor Villa-Lobos.

Tres Imágenes Cubanas is indeed the first piece Tulio Peramo wrote for me. After I had heard some of his music I asked Tulio to write a piece for me. I came up with the idea that he should write for guitar and string quartet, because I loved the way how he composed for string players. A second idea evoked, when I asked him to write like Piazzolla in his l´Histoire du Tango, a little “history“of Cuban music, combining all the different elements and styles of Cuban music. Tres Imágenes Cubanas was born and with this piece our musical work began. Tulio is a great expert in the Cuban history and tradition. So all of his pieces breath in a way a true Cuban spirit. The way how we both approached our collaboration was always a process, which was connected with the two of us. We were always connected during the origin of the pieces. I made suggestions like basic programmatic or structural ideas and he was always opened for my suggestions. Even after finishing the music, he was opened for changes and suggestions. For me it is always important to be with the composer during the process of the origin.
Recently, we can find good works for the string quartet and guitar ensemble, may be the case of Peramo, Karmon or Roberto Sierra, but they are few. Maybe it is because the difficulties it has to assemble. Why do you think the composers don’t write more for this ensemble?
I think the combination of the guitar with string quartet is absolutely great and can be really challenging for composers. In my opinion composers would surely write more for this combination if guitarists would ask them and be willing to play more with this chamber music combination. [Continue soon...]