Guitarist Giampaolo Bandini has performed, championed and taught Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s music for many years. In 2017, at the l’Istituto Musicale “Luigi Boccherini” in Lucca, Italy he organized the most extensive festival ever dedicated to the Florentine composer’s guitar music. After releasing more than 10 CDs, Giampaolo chose to dedicate time during the pandemic to an exploration of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s complete chamber music with guitar. He put together an outstanding group of musicians to collaborate with him on the project: the Quartetto Adorno (Edoardo Zosi violin, Liù Pelliciari, violin, Benedetta Bucci, viola, and Danilo Squitieri, cello); Stefano Cerrato, cello; Francesco Di Rosa, oboe; Alberto Miodini, piano; Augusto Mianti, English horn; and Andrea Oliva, flute. Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco Guitar Chamber Works: The Complete Edition (Decca) was released in Fall 2021. The recording includes extensive liner notes by Professor Stefano Campagnolo. Giampaolo graciously agreed to talk with us about his long standing interest and recent immersion in Mario’s chamber music.
Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco interviewed Giampaolo Bandini in December 2021.
Giampaolo, how did you decide to embark on this project?
Actually, I’ve been performing MCT’s music for many years. I always take great pleasure in playing it, and I find that audiences are interested in it as well and moved when they hear it. I wanted to take my journey with this music to the next step with a recording of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s complete chamber music with guitar. The pandemic period made this possible, because it gave me the opportunity to gather together a group of marvelous musicians at one time, something that would have normally been very difficult, and to bring to fruition this magnificent project, of which I am very proud.
What did you hope to achieve with this recording?
I hope that this recording can add an additional piece to the extraordinary mosaic of MCT’s music that is now being reconstructed. To that end, our project includes the world premiere recording of the Aria Op 146a for oboe, cello and guitar. I hope that this work will be added to those brilliant compositions of the great master that have yet to be rediscovered.
What impression do you wish to give the listener?
When one makes a recording, the aim is always to give the listener a new vision, to show the works in a different light, through a new interpretation, not a clumsy imitation of something that has already been heard. Our hope is that we succeeded, but it’s up to the listeners to judge. We worked hard to restore to these works all their value and depth, with great respect and attention to the details of MCT’s scores, which never leave anything to chance.
Guitarists are usually very familiar with Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s music. Sometimes other musicians are less so. Did your collaborators on this project already know Mario’s music, or was this the first time they performed it?
The extraordinary musicians with whom I was fortunate to collaborate of course had known MCT’s music for a long time, but it was always great to see how each time they were surprised and enthused by the freshness of the composer’s melodic invention, by his brilliant knowledge of polyphony and composition, as well as by the truly exemplary use of the different instruments. It’s rare to have the same feeling with other composers. Beauty, technique, and inspiration: this is the power of his music.
While you were studying and playing these pieces, what particularly moved or surprised you?
Each time I approach his music I am surprised by the composer’s ability to enter into the world of six strings as if he had always played the guitar. There are guitarist-composers who will never be able to achieve the heights of guitar writing that MCT did, even though he didn’t play the instrument himself and even though there are the unavoidable instrumental adjustments that sometimes have to be made when performing these works.
Which of the chamber works you recorded is your favorite and why?
It’s incredibly difficult to choose just one! I am in love with all this music, but I believe that the Quintet Op. 143 represents the apex of chamber music composition with the guitar. In my opinion there are no other chamber works for guitar that reach the same level of compositional ability, with a form that is so complete and well-structured, and that above all is worthy of comparison with the very greatest masterpieces for other instruments. It’s a piece of which we guitarists should be particularly proud. This work elevates the guitar in the eyes of the world.
Thank you. Giampaolo, for sharing your thoughts and for the beautiful music you and your collaborators have created!