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Interviews (selection)

Les Cahiers de la guitare  
Luz y calor  
La voz del interior  
Classical guitar 1985  

Classical guitar 2007





Gendaï Guitar 2004


Elle (Zürich) 1977




Rencontre avec Rafael Andia

les Cahiers de la Guitare n° 71, 1998

les Cahiers de la Guitare n° 71, 1998

Florian Conil- Rafael Andia, your name, its spelling, yourself and your art evoke for many, the so-called double cropping. Could you tell us what it brings in training, personality, creative life?
Rafael Andia - Looking back, the look that everyone carries on its trajectory tends to better fit into its own historical perspective. "I am me and my circumstance" said Ortega y Gasset: it is only now that I realize how much my artistic choices depend on distant events in appearance -in my case the Spanish civil war and emigration. I was born in France. At eighteen, I had not touched a guitar but I already carried within me, without my knowledge. I believe that the tear emigration is sublimated, after adolescence, in the guitar, because it symbolized the wound of war through a tragic family event: a maternal uncle, singer and guitarist, El Niño de la Sierra, had already made a disc (I could never find elsewhere, someone he has information?), when he was shot by the Civil Guard. When the border was opened, I think I unconsciously sought the guitarist. A friend of the family, Avila, then had a huge influence on me, unprofessional, and not musically illiterate Andalusian ... But I can say that I have never since been touched by this grace, this "gift "and by any other guitarist, flamenco or classical.

FC - Where do you stand in front of the purists who say that flamenco has no meaning outside a cultural context that we must live from within to be able to express fully on stage?
RA - Flamenco, for me, corresponded mainly to an unconscious impulse, a vital impetus too. Rather than art, it was a way of life, behavior, almost a philosophy: it is flamenco - as indicated by the usual language in Spanish. In any case, it provided a reading grid of artistic values ??which generally devalued or even practically excluded everything else. After eight years of this life, I began to look critically, rationally, on the flamenco guitar itself. She then incandescent Assembly in his speech, but limited and very narrow in its structure and in its form. The classic, the legacy of universal music on guitar, soon appeared to me as a true liberation intellectually. In 1972, in Paris, I made my last concert of flamenco guitar with Maurice Ohana, who ensured the comment. Some time after it was stolen from me. I have not touched a Flamenco guitar, but without regret!

FC - What meaning do you give a synthesis of flamenco style and classical writing?
RA - You are asking me the problem of freedom. Some staff and different from the tradition as I want, "my" flamenco (call thus provisionally what I write - several works published from Transatlantiques) must nevertheless necessarily be identifiable, readable, as belonging directly or indirectly to the world the toque jondo. This axiom in mind, this implies a constraint among the huge range of possibilities generously offered by the various writings of the twentieth century •, I must do my mourning many attractive aspects for the simple reason that they would make it unrecognizable " model "rigid, tyrannical real flamenco. ? But, on the other hand, however, how to set limits when the dream takes us too far from a reality that was deliberately chosen in this conflict, it has a talented ally: the guitar itself even. For the answers that tradition provides it constitutes an inexhaustible source of truth, on the condition of knowing transcend it. So it is for me a tradition, but "heard" in a certain way. I use such a harmony "omnimodale" rhythmic pedals to value added / subtracted, which does not recognize at all the flamenco, but one which will at the same sens.Un word about miscegenation in general: I do not think that all music be interbreeding and systematically support the interbreeding. I am sorry to see flamenco seek new life in New York and I believe other avecbeaucoup it would have been better inspired in Baghdad or Calcutta. No, really, derivative rock music or jazz, tonal and binary, are not miscible with deep Andalusia, modal and ternary (hemiola trend) for purely technical reasons, almost physical.

FC - Early baroque _flamenco, contemporary music, how did you come to these directories, what do they represent to you? How to feed each other?
RA - It has always struck me is the high specificity of popular instrumental guitars, while the instrumental gesture classics tends to blend with the other instruments: the classic, to better integrate the world of music probably mimics. Others, on the contrary, often create a rich range of effects and idiomatic elements, but rarely integrated into a structured and coherent thought. What attracted me in the baroque guitar, also popular in its infancy, it is above all the originality of the instrumental writing campanellas and batteries (rasgueados) in Granata, Bartolotti and Sanz, among others, that an Italian writer of the time called "a style that is proper and natural to him," definition and baptismal corroborated by Luis Briceño in 1626 who wrote: "No instrument can imitate it [the guitar]." In the music of the XIX and XX • • centuries we have too many works that are not "sound" guitar that view, whatever their qualities also, and this also in contemporary music, as concerns the great creators are often distant from the instrumental-oriented language and theory. The serial and post-serial book is typical in this respect: all the technical identity of the guitar goes there: over tremolos, ranges, and even purring of related arpeggios become useless bazaar objects to facing an otherwise erratic intervals write disjointed and not repetitive. We are well on the "model without territories" which Boulez speaks.

FC - How was your collaboration with composers?
RA - The first with whom I worked was Henri Sauget. That was in 1973. Darius Milhaud was writing music for a play by Claudel, but he was sick. He must also die the following year. This is Sauget who replaced him and it was he who had the idea to write the incidental music for guitar seule.Parmi others, the genesis of Tellur of Tristan Murail was for me an intense moment. Tristan wanted to write for the guitar for a long time, but he was dissatisfied with the conventional way of ringing. He wanted a new guitar vocabulary, better suited to his style of writing. He told me one day to make him see what I could do with a guitar. For two long hours, he took notes in silence. The creation was planned a month later. Two weeks later, I received Tellur. The programs, already printed, were marked guitar piece. The title was falling behind because he preferred Eternal Spiral everything that came into his imagination golden Brouwer had already been there! Wonderful detail: while I showed him what was for me the simple routine of flamenco rasgueado him, he could hear anything else, including any construction-deconstruction of his at the base of his work and all the riches that flow from and that I suspected to have in my hands guitarist! Another memory strong, but very different, was the poem Bliss Claude Ballif for three female voices, percussion and guitar, commissioned by Radio-France for a work Small-scale which proved last 45! Me comes back in memory the last work of André Jolivet remained to create six years after his death, the Tomb of Robert Aimed also at Radio-France ...

F.C. - What do you think students in general? Have you noticed over the years an evolution?
RA - It is obvious that there has been a turning point in the path of the guitar, when the "guitar according Segovia" was in decline and where came new interpreters with new directories. I suggest as a date-symbol 1964 year of Britten's Nocturnal, first work of a high profile have been created by someone other than Segovia, Julian Bream in this case. At the same time, this corresponded to an impor-aunt mutation students who, increasingly, came from other kinds of guitars: the Beatles defectors and pop, perhaps tired of these gleaming and suddenly fascinated by music asceticism guitar "dry" and pouring in. The extension to new geographical areas, hitherto pristine classical guitarists, had led to the emergence of self-taught conceptions of sound and spontaneous little academic and sometimes amusing techniques like this southpaw who played left without knowing that had roped in reverse, or that that was running at breakneck speed n • Study the Villa-Lobos with only the thumb and ring finger of the right hand ... The new blood supply is always beneficial . This has greatly enriched the world of guitar that could get stuck in conformism. And then the guitar, singular instrument, would it made as exceptions? Gaspar Sanz assured in 1674 he saw "a guitar equipped with a single string and fretless (!) To accomplish feats that others could not have carried on the books of an organ." And when we see Paco de Lucia played the Concierto de Aranjuez with crossed legs, this gives a serious blow to the various dogmas on holding classical guitar! However there has also been, for some time, to the outright negation of the oldest schools in Segovia, Pujol and others, a part of young people - and for the wrong reason: that one does not always grasped the relevance, coherence, or just because it was not in direct contact, visual, these "secrets" that make logical fingering or misunderstood concepts and qualified so bizarre, incorrect or outdated. We tend to make a clean sweep of traditions and "manufacturing recipes" that were slowly and patiently developed over generations, and contributed to the identity of the guitar: for example, few people respect the fingerings Tárrega, because we do not try to understand them in their stylistic context; The same applies to slid or romantic portamentos because few guitarists know how to make them sound good; so even those who are otherwise untreatable on amenities Bach, without proscribing these supercilii slipped, equally ornaments

FC - What do you think of the transcript, how you are practicing, what is its place?
RA - In the sixteenth century • with the transcription of religious works or sometimes profane Josquin des Prés, Gombert, Morales and others, vihuelists had inaugurated a lasting tradition: that of giving the public a way to get in contact with a music we heard only rarely. They also sought to improve addressing a much more ambitious language and who, in fact, far exceeded the vihuela. Theorists speak of the transcript as the absolute means of knowledge of it, its intimate exploration. Able to adapt a mass at the instrument (!) Was in a way the apprenticeship duty as the master. Note also that Luis Milan, the only one that does not publish transcripts, is not mentioned in the list of "good" vihuelists by Bermudo in 1555. To also Tárrega, transcription is the key to penetrate the mysteries of instrument and music, and not just a way to have fun or playing music in vogue, or to build a concert repertoire. This is a real "trip to guitar center" must do the transcriber and translator if he wants at any time to know the best acoustic equivalent to the sound of the original. It should explore nuanced attacks and new instrumental effects that will work as "trompe-ear". It should seek positions of unpublished agreements and sophisticated fingering that will show "fingertip" the internal structure of writing in a nearby approach from that of the orchestrator. Tarrega and his school were famous for their eg requirement in choosing the rope that had to express this or that particular color.
In Guitar Review, Segovia gave an interesting indication, as a corollary, about some original works of composers that sent him: "When I had completed the translation in the language of the guitar, composers were delighted. This also is a form of transcription ".We often said that we must give the public an original repertoire, the one he can only hear the guitar. The argument seems insufficient. I would be inclined to reason back: how many works in our repertoire could try mutatis mutandis training or other instruments that could play? The Concierto Aranjuez, the Preludes by Villa-Lobos are an exception. The beauty of these has attracted some Brazilian pianist who could magnify in a version quite fascinating, more "real" than the guitar because of a torrential romance which brings us quite naturally to Chopin, that author admired. And we can say that there are many beautiful notes missing from the published version, which is quite relativized religion of "the original" ... Let's say, generally the hearing of a work, at any given time and a given instrument, is only a snapshot of the life of this work and thought of its author. The latter may take some time to find the instrumental lighting that give it its truth. One who will reveal the will of the "child thief spark" the poet And no matter the original instrument as long as the connotations are respectées.Je just recorded for Harmonia Mundi a CD of Turina which contains Five Dances Gitanes piano, next to all the works for guitar. For most listeners who knew neither one nor the other, those have seemed to them more natural, more affinity with the guitar these! In fact, I have not seen a lot of Gypsies play the piano! I am currently preparing another solo CD Albéniz. I always had the feeling that it could have (and should have!) Write for the guitar. And if we sometimes désolons not be able to play all the notes, let us remember this: the act to express themselves on a guitar, "microcosm that gently soothes the hearts of men," he does not consist precisely to keep only the essentials?

Rafael ANDIA, guitare

Fantaisies pour un gentilhomme


Segovia and his contemporaries

Interview with Rafael Andia

By confronting Segovia guitarists of his time, a series of archives can finally appreciate the contribution, fundamental, from the master to the modern guitar.

"When I hear these contemporary Segovia, their magical phrasing, vibrato their moving, the depth of their sound, their portamento, and all these" beautiful notes "guitar (las notas Negras would have said Garcia Lorca), I feel deeply something we lack in our other performers "modern". Perhaps what is called a style. Specifically, the romantic and post-Romantic years, now deserted by modesty and even looked - comparable to the contempt of the musicians of the nineteenth century for the "excessive" baroque ornamentation of their ancestors! Some would perhaps these passionate melodies, these theatrics, these charming turns of ... Grandmother music. What a lesson, though, for those who patiently will hear in this way anything but antiquated tics. They will understand that some of us have sanitized, dehumanized guitar. With the best of intentions, in order to make it universal and readable by the greatest number. As is often said, "it's the fault of the media."

But also by ignorance of current guitarists, not least, are silent on an ornament as portamento because they forget that it participates, of course, the "hot" dimension of discourse, but is also invested in a formal function (make, legato, the most characteristic of the melody intervals).
Can we use it as it is today? My experience of the baroque guitar made me suspicious: the modern invoice itself, standardized, which leads us despite us to adopt certain options. Give me only Torres played by Llobet, excellent roped gut, and see what they suggest to us! To return to the reissue series, it will be a surprise for a lot of people: a Llobet, a shared Anido style master Segovia, but also shone instrumental qualities that were worth often his. Yet we are the heirs of the only Segovia. Why? He was the first to understand that the future of our instrument was through cooperation with modern composers, what other guitarists had never done before. Segovia wanted to be and was the Ricardo Vines guitar. He created the most significant works of the repertoire of the first half of the twentieth century. How many of us owe him the passion for the instrument but also the pioneering approach and conquering new territories. Here lies the big difference. "


by Manuel Boissart



Rafael ANDIA, guitare
Rafael Andía, la magia de una guitarra española


La música de Rafael Andía no es algo aprendido, algo que se conoce por años de experiencia o de uso. Es algo que desde un principio llevó dentro y que tras haberlo analizado y dejado salir, se ha convertido en magia, en la vida y pasión de este guitarrista.
Nacido en Francia de padres españoles, Andía se considera una persona con una suerte enorme, la de haber vivido inmerso en dos culturas diferentes, lo que le ha dado la posibilidad de poder apreciar lo mejor de cada una de ellas. Rafael Andía es hoy en día profesor de la "École Normale de Musique de Paris".
Su recorrido musical, que va desde la espectroscopia molecular hasta la guitarra clásica y barroca, se ha convertido en una búsqueda de lo puro, de lo verdadero que se esconde en la mezcla entre dos músicas diferentes. Su corazón está en París, ciudad que adora, pero considera irremplazable el hecho de haber vivido, desde pequeño, en un ambiente donde se cantaba flamenco, no el de los puristas y estetas, sino el flamenco que Andía considera puro, el de base; el flamenco del fandanguillo y el cante chico que constituyen la más simple, espontánea y sincera expresión del pueblo español.
Aún así, los pasos musícales de Andía no se dirigieron hacia la guitarra flamenca sino hacia la música clásica.
El guitarrista se declara un apasionado de autores como Isaac Albéníz, Joaquín Turina y Manuel de Falla, tres compositores a los que considera fundadores de la música española y que dieron orígen a la misma en París, sin olvidar el magnífico "Concierto de Aranjuez" del Maestro Rodrigo que, paradójicamente, fue escrito en su integridad en el "Quartier Latin".

A pesar de sus fuertes raíces españolas, Andia considera Francia como el país de su infancia, un país que ha sabido fusionar perfectamente la música española desde Albéniz, con Debussy y Ravel. La mezcla entre el cante español, primitivo y profundo, con el impresionismo francés tan cultivado, ha sido uno de los motivos que han empujado a este guitarrista hacia la música clásica.
La salida de su últímo CD consagrado a Albéniz es una muestra de su pasión por este compositor que marcó su infancia y su juventud. Una utopía convertida en realidad tras un enorme trabajo de perseverancia y de autoexigencia, que han dado como fruto un disco en el que el lenguaje de las composiciones, escrito para piano, se adapta perfectamente a la lengua materna de la guitarra.
Un proyecto que ya se ha convertido en realidad pero que no es el primero para Andía, ya que el guitarrista ya había adaptado para guitarra "El Amor Brujo" de Manuel de Falla (obra escrita para orquesta) y "Danzas Gitanas" de Turina (escrita para piano).
Pero la pasión por la música no tiene límites en este hombre. La misma voluntad de enseñar y transmitir ese amor que le han llevado hasta la "École Normale de Musique de Paris" han impulsado a Andía a crear una "orquesta de guitarras" con un grupo de antiguos alumnos que el guitarrista ha llamado "Serenata", en homenaje a la música popular del siglo XIX. Con su orquesta, Andia pretende explorar y dar a conocer un género de músíca poco conocído en Francia, el de los pequeños maestros de la Zarzuela, una música que, pese a ser popular, ha sabido ganar el título de clásica.
Rafael Andía sigue soñando con la música, con el sonido de una guitarra y las notas de una composición que un día salieron del alma de alguien y que hoy llegan hasta nosotros a través del arte y la guitarra de un gran maestro.

Luz y Calor n° 35

Rafael ANDIA, guitare

Rafael Andia : es muy difícil escapar de sus raices

Rafael Andia es uno de los referentes de la guitarra a nivel internacional y a lo largo de décadas de carrera promovió un repertorio que abarca desde obras del período barroco hasta creaciones contemporáneas. Desde hace más de 30 años es profesor de guitarra clásica y barroca en la prestigiosa Ecole Normale de Musique de París y ha dirigido colecciones de música para guítarra en algunas de las editoriales más importantes de Europa.
Nacido en Francia de padres españoles, es justamente durante una estadía en Córdoba, a principios de los '70, cuando decide obedecer a sus raíces y comenzar a indagar el universo de la guitarra, primero desde el flamenco y más tarde desde la música española de tradición clásica. "Córdoba es una ciudad que me ha dado mucho -rememora con acento entre ibérico y francés- viví aquí un año y medio, en una casa de la calle Mariano Moreno".
En aquella Córdoba Andia dio sus primeros pasos como concertista y vivió inmerso en un clima cultural que aún recuerda con emoción. "Soy un agradecido de esta ciudad -continúa-, aquí di mi segundo concierto para guitarra, en Radio Nacional, en un programa que tenía mi amigo Aníbal Villarreal. Aquí también decidí dejar la física y dedicarme totalmente a la música
De vuelta en Córdoba después de muchos años de ausencia, Andía realizó por estos días una serie de conferencias y conciertos acerca de la "apreciación del flamenco en los clásicos de la músíca española. Hoy ofrecerá un concierto enteramente dedicado a Manuel De Falla en Alta Gracia, en la que fuera la casa de De Falla y hoy es el museo que lleva su nombre.
-¿Cómo fue transcribir para guitarra a Manuel de Falla?
-Fue un trabajo inmenso que me llevó casi 15 años. Comencé con una pieza de El Amor Brujo, casi como jugando y cuando me di cuenta que la cosa funcionaba, el trabajo me atrapó y seguí. Utilicé las partituras para orquesta, por que allí se puede ver mejor las intenciones del autor. Hay otras transcripciones hechas sobre las reducciones para piano, como las de Pujol, que en el fondo no funcionan del todo bien.

-También grabó la obra integral de Joaquín Turina e Isaac Albéniz ¿Qué diferencias advierte entre estos músicos y De Falla?
-Bueno, Turina fue un gran músico, muy culto y adentrado en la música de su tiempo. Pero su figura fue un poco ofuscada por el éxito que alcanzó De Falla, que tenía una dimensión más internacional. En el disco incluí toda su producción para guitarra y algunas transcripciones. Siguiendo la misma pauta grabé después un disco integral de Albéniz con 14 transcripciones. Este compositor nunca escribió para guitarra, pero no podría ser quien es sin este instrumento, ya que llegó a la notoriedad a través de las transcripciones guitarrísticas de su obra para piano.
-Usted también se dedicó a la música del siglo 20
-Fue una etapa en la que buscaba ensanchar mi horizontes y los de mi instrumento. Entonces grabé en estreno mundial obras importantes de compositores franceses. Pero creo que es necesario reconocer el fracaso de mucha de la música escrita en este período; no desde el punto de vista intelectual, pero sí desde el punto de vista de la relación con el público y su permanencia en los repertorios.

La Voz del Interior
Córdoba, Argentine, april 3, 2004


Rafael ANDIA, guitare

Gendaï Guitar


Rafael ANDIA, guitare
Elle (Zürich) 10/1977



Rafael ANDIA, guitare
Classical Guitar, London, may 1985


Rafael Andia, French despite his Spanish-sounding name, trained in both Music and the Sciences. In 1969 he graduated in Experimental Physics (University doctorate) and in the same year obtained the Classical Guitar Concert Award (Licence de Concert) at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris. He taught Physics for two years at the Sorbonne, then won the second prize in the Paris International Guitar Competition in 1973, after which he undertook a teaching and concert career in France and abroad. His art was oriented towards modern music and stimulating composers to write for the guitar, leading to a collection of contemporary guitar works with Editions Transatlantiques. He gave the first performances of works by Jolivet, Ballif and Murail. Besides his interest in this field, he was the first guitarist in France to turn seriously to the baroque guitar, embarking on a thorough research into the repertoire, the style and the technique of the instrument. His latest two records indicate his musical preferences : the complete guitar works of André Jolivet, and baroque guitar pieces by François Lecoq. I once heard Rafael Andia play in a concert after another guitarist had played a first half of the usual repertoire - pieces in E, A or D by Sanz, Sor and Villa-Lobos. Listening to Rafael Andia after that was to discover another guitar; a deeply expressive instrument with subtle contrasted -shades, full of magical mysteries. But here is Rafael Andia himself...

Rafael Andia: I studied the violin until I was 18. Then one day I fell under the spell of the flamenco guitar. This, for me, as for all non-guitar players, no doubt, was the guitar in its ‘pure' state, the instrument which imitates none other but itself and which cannot be replaced by any other. The sound which issued from it was a musical world in itself, completely independent. Compared to that burning music, classical music struck me as being very tepid.Has it given you a specific orientation in classical music?

And how did you come to choose the classical guitar?

It has enabled me, I think, to separate very clearly everything in the classical guitar repertoire that is original and specific to the guitar from everything brought in from other musical instruments through the imitative process.Falla saw this specificity very clearly. Albeniz was the first to sublimate it in his Iberia suite for the piano, which, curiously, has helped to thrust this image of distinction of the true guitar upon the collective musical subconscious of the 20th century, Once, on reading the direction quasi guitarra at the head of Debussy's Sérénade Interrompue -something unimaginable from the pen of Chopin or Brahms - I realised that the guitar had brought a colour, a personality into music, a thing which it had never done before.This has been my reply to the questions: 'What's the use of playing the classical guitar?' and 'What's the value of its contribution to the history of music?' For me, however, the flamenco guitar remains the mother tongue of the guitar; not from the aesthetical point of view, but from the way in which its resources in the field of expression and its 'natural' organological possibilities have been exploited.

What external influences - of all kinds - can you recognise in your musical personality?

The work of the philosopher Ortega y Gasset has been a revelation to me, in that it gives every human activity. especially art, a historical background. My studies at the Faculty of Science taught me to put everything in doubt to go beyond the phenomenon - or what appears of it; to look for the hidden meaning of things - for instance, to try to understand the internal working of things which everyone rejects.In 1970, baroque guitar was considered insignificant even by those who designed to play some pieces on it. On giving it a closer scrutiny, I have discovered an authentically significant music, in the historial sense of the word, like that of a Bartolotti or of a Guerau.

Do you have a well-defined concept of the guitar?

Yes, very well defined indeed. I feel that the guitar, like certain actors, has specific 'roles'. It should not play the part of 'composition', for which it cannot give the best of itself. This does not mean that it should confine itself to those parts which have assured it of success in the past, nor that it should imitate itself indefinitely; evolution, not involution, is the key-word here.To my mind, the guitar is, before everything else, an instrument which should hint rather than assert; in that way it is very close to the Debussy concept of the magic of sound. One may then well understand why the abandonment of tone in favour of mode (more supple and more uncertain) was responsible for the guitar's unequivocal success during the first thirty years of this century. I do not think moreover, that the music of Giuliani's period, for example, with its inordinate importance on tonal degree, is the ideal set-up where the guitar can bewitch us all with its mystery.In that -sense the question of the sensuality of sound is therefore of the highest importance. Yet I have evidence that it is less and less understood by the majority of guitarists, who go for clear and sharp notes, thus taking away from the instrument all of its charm. Playing the guitar is not banjo playing, by any means.

How does the guitar's future seem to you?

Falla used to say that the guitar is particularly well adapted to modern music. He surely had in mind its modal character. Today, however, musical research does not care any longer for languages but for sound itself. The guitar's future (like that of all musical intruments) perforce must go through the systematic exploration of its spectral density, of its 'acoustic sum total'.For example, research work is proceeding on the sound/interference duality, which are two inseparable components of the phenomenon of sound. To the composer this poses the problem of knowing how to use this raw material and to re-invent in each case a specific musical composition, from which the old diagrams have been completely flushed out. Otherwise there is a danger of failing into what contemporary music too often is: a succession of sound effects, a collection of musical objects more or less well assembled but which has not value from the point of view of structure or form.

How would you define your own personal contribution to the guitar scene?

As 'creation'; i.e. playing the work of a composer for the first time in public. The spread of contemporary works appears to me more and more to be the sole activity of the guitarist who is truly responsible from the historical standpoint.The most instense musical moment Ihave lived up to now was the creation of Claude Ballif’s Poème de la Félicité for three female voices, percussion and guitar, a composition based on a poem by Thomas Traherne. It's a work in the serial trend which lasts for 45 minutes! Other solo guitar creations, like those of Murail or Jolivet, also evoke exalting memories for me.My activities as a baroque guitarist may have caused certain persons to abandon playing that guitar repertoire on the modern instrument. But I must confess that a very small number of them have taken the plunge and tackled the ancient instrument.

How did you come to play the baroque guitar?

Flamenco again. It's a popular tradition which can be found in 90 per cent of Gaspar Sanz's dances, as much from the point of view of form (modality, diferencias = falsetas, batteries = rasgueados, alternations 3/4 and 6/8) as from the point of view of technique (cf. article 'Flamenco' in the Guide de la Guitare, Paris 1981, ed. Mazarine).When I discovered, as far back as 1970, that such a music still existed, mutatis mutandis, in the 20th century, preserved as a whole in Spain's collective memory, then early music became for me a living art again. I felt I was concerned with what happened in the 17th century, an I started to become passionately fond of the music of the past. Afterwards, I extended my research to all the rest of the baroque guitar repertoire. On the other hand, I have not found any similar link with the vihuela. There has been a break somewhere.As far as the 'ancient versus new instrument' argument is concerned, I am not a purist as a rule. But in the case of the baroque guitar the problem is of a different nature: it is physically impossible to play the baroque guitar repertoire on its modern counterpart without violating the score itself. In other words, it is impossible to play the written sounds.

Is there, in your view, a French style or school in so far as the guitar is concerned?

I do not think there is a specific style of playing in France any more than elsewhere, but unquestionably there is a good one and a bad one. There have often been references to the paradoxical statement that Spanish music is a French invention, but from the guitar standpoint it's rather the 'French school' which would be a Spanish invention! Paris has always benefited from Spain's proximity and has always been a home for Spanish artists. This was particularly so between the two world wars, when our capital was the focal point of the Iberian guitaristic élite because it was at the same time a privileged place for meetings with the composers of the French school.

Finally, do you think that the technical level of guitar playing has increased over the last few decades?

Not in the sphere of intrinsic virtuosity, I think, for this is a strictly individual matter which goes beyond statistics. It is security, above all, which seems to me to be the characteristic of the younger generation, and which generally speaking stems from a lesser willingness to take risks. The present generation is more thoughtful, more scientifically-minded and more efficiency-oriented.Let's compare, for example, Tárrega's version of Bach's Fugue for violin with modern versions In the former, speculation on the instrument is very much higher; the far more difficult fingerings obey a more ambitious interpretation and give us, more particularly, an indication of an extremely exacting sense of musical phraseology at the expense of greater technical risks. I have evidence that there is at present a reaction against this ideal in favour of a less committed and more comfortable way of playing - which nevertheless may give the illusion of perfection. Pujol used to say: 'Some really do play, and others give the impression of playing'. For him, the former was the definition of true technique.


Rafael ANDIA, guitare

Rafael Andia and the music of Manuel de Falla

By Danielle Ribouillault

Having heard Rafael Andia in concert, Colin Cooper told me how interested he had been by his Falla transcriptions. For a long time I have known the research this French guitarist was doing in that field, and the great cleverness and ability he developed in the area. Readers of Classical Guitar  may find it interesting to know a little bit more about his original approach.
Rafael Andia origins are in Spain, and he is now teaching the guitar in the well-known Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris. He achieved a high reputation for his works with the baroque guitar (he recorded several CDs in the 90s. including integral recordings of both Robert de Visée and François Lecocq), but he also promoted a wide range of contemporary guitar music, premiering pieces by such composers as Tristan Murail (Tellur), Jolivet, Ohana and others. He eventually turned to composition and his work is published by Transatlantiques.
By chance, Rafael Andia had found a testimony written by Maria Martinez Sierra, co-scenarist in the conception of Manuel De Falla’s Amour sorcier. She described the genesis of her work with the maestro : “ at the beginning, we (with Falla) had in mind a file of aires simply accompanied with a guitar”.
Those words lived in Rafael Andia's mind for many years, until the time came when he could not resist the temptation to put into the guitarist's fingers the agreeable Gitaneria, to put the orchestral score into the little guitar. He needed to try to discover the ideas, the gestures and archetypes existing in Falla’s mind before the composition:
“The guitar itself was the best guide" he testifies "with its atavism, its own true, which had made Falla dream."
But what should we think about transcription in general, in a context where many ideas oppose the approach in itself? The only escape can be total adequacy, a perfect suitability to the model even if it suggests an element of forcing the score into the smaller guitar.
Writing about the compositions dedicated to him  some of which were excellent even though not written with an entire knowledge of the guitar's possibilities. “When I did realise the translation in the language of the guitar, the composers were charmed. This is a kind of transcription”.
In fact, as Rafael Andia insists, some transcriptions seem much more natural on the guitar than on the original instruments, and on the other hand, some pieces really dedicated to the guitar, if not strictly conceived for it, do not work so well. But what is  going to work well?
It can be also an advantage in the way it can create new techniques adapted to this particular musical approach. This in no way impedes the transcription of orchestral works which seem adequate on a solo instrument, and which can be the cause of the development of these new technical approaches. Rafael Andia repeats : “Certainly, I prefer to play good transcriptions, which work freely and naturally, to a lot of original pieces put into the guitar as if with a hammer”.
He is not the first, but a follower of great composers for piano in the past, like Franz Liszt above all, who transcribed in a very convincing way. It depends only on the quality of the transfer.
 In Falla's case and in the guitar's case, a strong relationship provides more justification for transcription. About the guitar, Falla wrote precisely that in his opinion it was “peculiarly well adapted to modern music”. In fact, the significance of the guitar in impressionistic times, in the following generation of Cocteau and Picasso, and later with Ohana, was very special. Spanish music associated with guitar at that moment was felt as a liberation of tonal old patterns : specific harmonies with 5ths, and dissonances irregularly resolved with open strings, seductive for their prohibited character, their nice anachronism and their exoticism. For these generations, the guitar represented an original value.
Falla also wrote about the dissonances of the flamenco guitar, “ a wonderful revelation of unsuspected harmonic possibilities never imagined, found also in Scarlatti’s sonatas and Debussy’s quartet”. Glinka much admired the flamenco guitarist El Murciano. Bizet copied several Spanish themes and rhythms in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Debussy discovered the guitar at the same time as the gamelan in ‘L’Exposition universelle” in Paris. Cocteau wanted to hear the guitar that appears in Picasso’s pictures, this mythical instrument that we find in Ravel’s Habanera, in Debussy’s Soirée dans Grenade and Sérénade interrompue (with the annotation  “quasi guitarra”) and in Liszt and Rimsky Korsakov’s pieces...

Albeniz’s Asturias could have been written by a guitarist. In another part of his Suite espagnole we read, in an approximate Italian : “come una ghitarra (sic) il canto”. The Farruca and the Seguidilla from Falla's Tricorne are true transcriptions for the orchestra of patterns (rhythmical, modal, expressive, technical) and themes coming from popular guitarists. In the introduction of L ‘Amour sorcier, we can see how Falla works in order to impart to the orchestra -with a great complexity of timbres and shapes in all the sections- the simple effect of rasgueado.
Though present only as a phantasm, the guitar has a special significance in the music of that time, an important fact to remember in the field of guitar culture.
Finally, I want to say that in my opinion Rafael Andia’s performance of his Falla transcriptions is amazingly convincing. Readers may judge for themselves from his CD  :

Manuel de Falla: intégrale à la guitare, issued by Mandala/Harmonia Mundi in June 2006.

Classical Guitar volume 25, no. 12, aout 2007