11 feb 2013

Sergio Assad Interview II

Assad brothers: Talent, soul and magic (II)
Fernando Bartolomé Zofío for MGE. Guitar Festival. Córdoba. Julio 2012

Let’s talk about Roland Dyens’ Côtè Nord. I have been looking for everywhere but I have not found anything about it. Is there any recording of it? Why is it so unknown?
Côtè Nord is a very complex piece of music and is quite hard to play. It is one of the best pieces ever written for two guitars and we played it many times during a good number of years. Due to special recording projects involving other musicians that occupied our last ten years we weren’t able to record it as a duo. I believe however that there is at least one commercial recording made by the British duo Eden Stell.   

I know you have played almost all type of music but I can’t find traces of Bach or classical music period. Nikita Koshkin composed a work for you, but I haven’t got traces of interpretations or recordings of this work. Maybe Koshkin not seem to fit well with your music line. Did you take his work to the stage?
We played all kinds of music through our learning process and career. When we first came to Europe in the early 80’s we brought in our repertoire Sor, Carulli, Giuliani and even some Mozart. We used to play some Bach as well but not as much as we did Rameau and Scarlatti. Regarding Koshkin we played his Concertino for at least a couple of years back in the 80’s. There is a BBC broadcast of a live performance of it but we never recorded it in a commercial CD. In the 90’s he wrote another piece that we commissioned with the help of the Augustine Foundation.  I like Nikita’s music and consider him one of the greatest composers for the instrument.

Roland Dyens

What was the relationship between two living legends like you and Yo Yo Ma? How was the recording and rehearsals?
We met YoYo in a Boston’s recording studio back in 97. He was preparing his Soul of the Tango album, which won a Grammy that year. He was aware of our connection with Piazzolla and invited us to be part of his dedication to Astor. He wanted to play the Tango Suite, originally written for two guitars, and asked us to make a version for cello and guitars. After that recoding he invited us again for his Brazilian project Obrigado Brazil and kept saying that he wished to play in a trio form with us. Actually this happened this year in another project called Viva Brazil that has been recorded live by Sony and is released in  EP form through iTunes. YoYo is an amazing musician and eager to play all kinds of music. He is such a nice and fun person to be with and we always had a great time with him. The Viva Brazil project will come back in 2014. He will take it to Asia and Latin America. It is a leaving thing in the sense that we might keep renewing repertoire.

Brouwer’s Micro piezas. This composer has written many works and of such quality that sometimes we lose the true value of other works, less well known like the Micro Piezas. For me, these are little jewels of the camera guitar literature. What do you think about it? What does it make them so special?
I think Leo got inspired by Bartok’s Microkosmos and created these 4 miniatures based on traditional Cuban music. When these pieces appeared in the late  50’s they were one of a kind in the guitar world. The idea of exploring folkloric material was used by many composers including the great Villa Lobos but I suppose that was first applied to the guitar in a miniature form by Leo.

I knew something about your family, relate to music, especially about Badi Assad but nothing else. The other day I listened Ad lib work of Clarice Assad and I found it incredible. Amazing! Then I heard about a project you made with several members of your family and I listened something on the CD. Can you explain us how was your childhood in this environment full of music and talent?
Music was our parent’s passion and we grew up in a strong musical environment. We managed to pass a little bit of that passion to our kids and today at least two of them are musicians.

What is your current relationship with the family? Do you give mutual advices? Do you do criticize each others? Do you come together to play?
When Badi started to play the guitar she wanted to be like us, her older brothers. She learned the classical guitar and entered a couple of competitions when she was still very young. Actually she came on 2nd on the Villa Lobos international guitar competition in 1984 held in Rio de Janeiro. Not much later she gradually decided to move away from the classical guitar world and slowly managed to create her own personal voice with lots of originality. Lately my daughter Clarice is becoming an amazingly demanded classical contemporary composer. Besides that she is a great performer using her blend of scat singing and piano playing. We created a family quintet last year and started to write original music for it. The quintet reunites Odair, Badi, my daughter Clarice, Odair’s daughter Carolina and myself. We will be doing more and more in the years to come. It is a great pleasure to be able to travel with the family and create special music for the group.

Clarice Assad
Do not the kids look intimidated?
I don’t think so! They are not intimidated at all.  To tell you the truth I think Clarice is the most gifted musician among all of us.

How were they introduced into music? Did you ask for? Did you persuade them to? As parents, do you feel ignore by them? (I know something about that…)
They just followed the same path we did. We had music in the house all the time through our parents. Our kids were exposed to the same environment. Music is a gift. If you are born with it you must pursue it.

You are working on a concerto for two guitars and orchestra. Can you tell us about it?
I wrote a double guitar concerto a couple of years ago. We premiered it with the Seattle Symphony last year. Right now we are relearning it to play in Brazil next August.  Clarice wrote a new concerto called Album de Retratos for two guitars and large Orchestra.  The premiere is scheduled for October with the Ohio Symphony in Columbus.

What new projects are you working on?
We just finished this tour with YoYo Ma called Viva Brazil. This has been recorded live and is released by Sony records on ITunes in an EP form.  We will be working next year one more time with the great Cuban clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera in a couple of North American tours. Besides that we are quite busy with our teaching positions. Odair in Mons, Belgium and myself in San Francisco in the US.


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