Guitarist/Composer Emanuele Torrente Debuts New Album 'Musical Mind'

By Thomas Swan on Oct 10, 2015 03:17 PM EDT

Emanuele Torrente has a musical mind. The Italian born classical guitarist has very definite ideas about where music is going and where he feels it should be going. An accomplished musician, who has played thtroughout Europe, as well as composer and musical theorist, Maestro Torrente is a complex man of many talents, Maestro Torrente has a new album Musical Mind, which you can download from his site.  Classicalite caught up with him to talk about the album and music in general.

Emanuele Torrente - As a musician, the proper recording of one's music is one of the most important things you have to deal with. After quitting his career as a concert player, Glenn Gould stressed the fact that if you want your work to be taken seriously, you have to approach the recording with the respect it deserves and treat it with care.

Classicalite - Is the recording process  fun for you?

ET - I think "fun" is but one component of a number of emotions involved in the process and sometimes conflicting with each other. I agree with some of my colleagues who say recording is almost more challenging than playing live in concert. In many ways, a recording microphone can be more demanding and intimidating than a big audience listening to your live performance.

CL - Speaking of your new album, Musical Mind, the first song "Invenzione Continua" starts off the album. The accompanying descriptive booklet describes it,: "Duet for violin. A fifteen-minutes continuous compendium of counterpoint technique unique for its duration, innovative form and intensity". Is it an argument between lovers. the point/counterpoint?

ET - Well, if you go beyond the cold musical technique, yes, it might be explained like an "argument between lovers". "contrappunto":  a point "contro", "against" another point. Luckily in the end lovers will eventually find an agreement and they'll melt together..

CL - It mixes both the intimate and the cold, would you agree? The music is very intimate yet there is a degree of detachment in the violin. The lovers are screaming to be heard, no?

ET - Yes, I agree, and it is a super strong piece of music. In my opinion, it can elict very strong emotions. It could melt your mind far quicker than say heavy metal, if you invest time to truly listen.

CL - Really? Your audience would, traditionally speaking, be a classical one? You want them to do more with it than just sit and enjoy its intrinsic beauty? Would you agree your music is very German in its soul?

ET - Actually, I'm delighted to see that there are more lovers of modern than classical music in my audience. It means my music speaks to the times I live in. And my acknowledging the more ancient musical tradition further helps me to give a head start to a launch in the years to come.

I believe that the barrier among genres must be torn down. If you meant that pop music makes you move the body and classical music your mind, I think body and mind together have to join each other for a New aesthetic (and ecstatic) solution. As regards the second question, I agree that there's a large component of German Tradition in my music, although I feel "European" is a more correct way to call it.

CL - Which conjures up Ennio Morricone in my mind. Is this an Italian trait? Forming these two differing methods of expression into a new one?

ET - The contribution of the tradition of Italian music to the formation of European music is exemplary. Morricone's music is another proof that such tradition continues even today. Morricone has gained recognition also thanks to the soundtracks he has composed for Hollywood movies. But it's worth mentioning the name of another Italian composer from the last century, equally brilliant, but not so well-known: Franco Margola.

CL - "Archiemia" - the booklet says - "An extraordinary string quartet (with the counter bass and without the doubling of the violin) containing three musical fragments from three different eras (Bach, 1700s,Mendelhsonn, 1800s, Ravel, 1900s) combined in a contemporary logic."

What drew these three fragments together? What do you mean by contemporary logic?

ET - Those three fragments kept swimming in my head and I decided to pick them out of the torrent. Contemporary logic means that after three century they re-live in our days.

CL - Is this, in your view, another piece that grabs the listener immediately? What is it saying to you? What should we be listening for?

In the beginning the instruments feel at emotional odds with each other and then a bridge gets crossed and the third bit, a dance of understanding (maybe?) begins. Talk about the emotions you want people to discover in this piece.

ET - Well, when I wrote "Archiemia, I was, like, twenty-three. The idea behind it was to concentrate the history of music into five minutes time.  This is the emotion I wanted to convey. It's a personal gift to the Tradition, to the "classical" music. It starts and ends with a very dissonant chord, but at its  heart is sweet and full of rhythm. It is a stone thrown in the puddle of dissonant experimentation which, I have to be honest, I dislike.

CL - Why?

ET - Because you can't make a music full of dissonance without some sort of traditional structure and claim it's art. That's cacophony. Numerous and highly cultured musicians have thought and keep thinking that and now it's time to stop it.

CL - I want to skip to "Contrappunti Rock". It uses Joy Division's theme from "Love Will Tear Us  Apart". Do you like the Joy Division song?

ET - I think those four bars of the theme of that song are just wonderful. With those few notes I built  a series of variations with different contrapuntal techniques.

CL - Is that what stuck out? The four bars? Have there been others?

ET  - Yes, in that song that simple thought is amazing. But it wasn't developed enough, so I tried to enlarge it in my own style. A lot of rock songs have this problem. Some of them have extraordinary beginnings but no development.

CL - For "Trio Elegia" the booklet says:  Two ostinato lines support a melody that starts, runs like a freight train and arrives at destination punctual and determined.

This one shows your ventures into rock-esque type structure. The arrangement could definitely be used in that regards. You have said that you feel most rock songs are unfinished, like "Love Will Tear Us Apart". What makes them unfinished?

ET - Some of them are unfinished for my tastes, because I need that one thought, like in a novel or  a poem. It must be structured. Of course, some rock or pop songs are beautiful, no development needed.Most of them are unfinished simply because their composers only possess a rudimentary knowledge of music. But this is the peculiarity of rock music, which in my opinion is  the real musical Avant-garde of the 20th century.

CL - "Sestina Altaforte" The booklet says - "One of the most beautiful and famous poems by Ezra Pound becomes musically alive in a form that, while elaborate and complex, delivers lyrical power and immediacy."

What about Ezra Pound's work inspired you?

ET - The life of Ezra Pound inspires me. He was a true rebel. Some people think he was a bad guy, a madman. In my opinion, he was the best American poet of the 20th century, together with Charles Bukowski. Sestina is one of the best examples of his whole poetry.

CL - What specifically appeals to you about him?

ET - Just his incredible knowledge of poetry and literature, but also his courage as man. He had ideas and he fought for them until the end. Like he said: "If a man isn't willing to take some risk for his opinions, either his opinions are no good or he's no good".

CL - What inspired the Jazz Suite of music?

ET - I used to play jazz. I've always wanted to mix  jazz  and  classical music. I read in a book that Gershwin had been the first to really accomplish that. I decided to be the second

CL- Have you listened to Gershwin? Opinion?

ET - Gershwin? As Bruckner said about Brahms: I like his music but I prefer mine.

CL - What Jazz musicians inspired you?

ET - Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Pat Metheny, Giorgio Gaslini.

CL - What about that group appeals to you?

ET - Authenticity.

CL - Explain what you mean by authenticity?

ET - I'm talking about musical authenticity. I could write a book on the topic, but I'm afraid we wouldn't have enough space here. Let's just say it's a feeling I have when I'm  listening to the best music.

CL - How do the various characters, Blues, folk, swing etc, connect in your mind? How do you want the listener to see they connect?

ET - The ancient suites of European origin connected different dances together,  for instance the allemanda from Germany, the courant from France et cetera. I called it "suite" jazz because the logic behind it is the same as those suites. All the modern kinds of dances are included. Swing, Bossa Nova, folk, blues. and so on. I'm thinking of composing a volume two of my suite jazz with more dances and types of modern music, including  Be bop- free jazz, and various fusions. Furthermore, I would like to compose a Suite Rock, but it's only an idea at the moment. Let's see what happens.

CL - Dowland's Farewell is gorgeous. It's just you on the guitar. When do you think, this has to be on solo guitar and when does this needs more?

ET - Even if played with one guitar, Dowland's Farewell contains a diabolic poliphony. With this recording I wanted to show the absolute limits of the classical guitar. I have transcribed this piece for string quartet. Personally I'm composing music that regards the pure thought. A music that eventually you can play, as Italians used to say some centuries ago, per qualsivoglia instromento, for whatever instrument.

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TagsEmanuele Torrente, Classical Guitarist, Composer, Musical Mind, Classical Music, Jazz, New Album

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