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Rodrigo por Cañizares — Aranjuez, ma pensée & Preludio al atardecer

Cañizares speaks exclusively to Guitar Magazine about his latest album, "Aranjuez, ma pensée & Preludio al atardecer," featuring works by Rodrigo.
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Let’s talk about your latest album. When did you meet maestro Rodrigo?

I met him at a Paco de Lucía concert in Torrelodones, Madrid. I thought he was a lovely person; I have very fond memories of him and of that night. Besides, I feel that thanks to the Concierto de Aranjuez and maestro Rodrigo, the doors to the symphonic world were opened to me.

What is your ideal guitar for the recording studio?

I work with the luthier Vicente Carrillo, from Casasimarro, Cuenca (Spain). We tried to find a hybrid guitar with the sweet sound of a classical guitar and that percussive point of flamenco. We did several tests: Vicente brought his hands and his talent, and I brought my sensations and my perception, and from there, we came up with a guitar model that is the one I currently play, both for pulsating melodies and deep basses.

Which do you value more in the studio: sensitivity or power? Have you achieved a balance?

I always value sensitivity. That’s the most important thing. Move your hands delicately, and the guitar responds. Power is necessary, but it’s not so essential today with the means we have in the studio. I usually use a set of soft tension strings.

When recording, do you take advantage of the natural reverberation of the space itself, or do you prefer to apply software reverb?

I think every music needs its own reverb, so I use software reverb. That’s what technology is for. If the track is slow, I apply a little more reverb; if the track is fast, I try to balance the level. It’s a nice effect, but if you overdo it, it can get filthy. You have to apply a reverb appropriate to what you are going to record.

Finally, please tell us about the characteristics of the following works and the story behind each of them. Let’s start with Aranjuez, ma pensée.

Rodrigo was asked to play this frequently. I asked permission from Doña Cecilia, his wife, to analyse the score and create a different arrangement for the album Rodrigo por Cañizares. It is a very moving piece, like all Rodrigo’s works.

Preludio al atardecer (“Sunset Prelude”).

Very daring! It was unpublished, so I am very grateful to doña Cecilia for allowing me to rescue it. It uses very advanced chords for the time (the truth is that I had a hard time deciphering the notation when working on it, and it forced me to study the source carefully). I recognise specific flamenco nuances; in fact, I have added a flamenco fingering to highlight them. It gives me great pleasure to interpret it.

Cuatro estampas andaluzas (“Four Andalusian Pictures”).

Four fantastic pieces. They have that Andalusian flavour, so it’s essential to balance the sound and flamenco rhythm they are based on.

How was the process of working with the Cuatro piezas (“Four Pieces”), originally for piano?

Above all, I emphasise the long previous process of analysis, which includes the harmonic skeleton and the counterpoint of the music. A guitar or two guitars are not a piano. You have to make an adaptation that is understood so that nothing is overshadowed. In my transcriptions, I try to extract the essentials from the music. To polish a measure, I have to work on it a lot. It’s complicated. It’s not the same as composing, but you also have to look for meaning in a transcription constantly. It’s an exhausting process, and at the same time, rewarding. After overcoming difficult crossroads and being able to hear the final product (decisions about octave changes, note nuances, etc.), you enjoy it enormously. I have learned a lot by analysing works and bringing them to my instrument.

Website: jmcanizares.com

Full Interview: “Every Concert With Paco de Lucía Was Like a Masterclass for Me”

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