Cover photo, courtesy of Cristina Quílez.
  Few are the plucked string soloists who dedicate themselves to the Renaissance and even fewer those who do so to the repertoire of the vihuela, where I think there is still much to study and listen to. To this select group we owe the rescue and dissemination of a corpus rarely traveled in the professional environment and definitely little studied in the academic environment, not at least with all the depth it deserves. Perhaps the evolution inherent in an academic trajectory makes us prefer the most complex and virtuous works to the detriment of a repertoire that appears simple but where, without a doubt, the essence and purity of the language and the instrument reside. That is why when I learned that Alfred Fernández (1970, Barcelona) was creating a program with the entire vihuela duos, I quickly congratulated him on his courage: it is a program without artifice, where it is not assumed that the listener’s attention should be spurred with sudden changes of character. A journey without excuses to the deepest and most naked of the vihuela. We are proud to announce that Alfred’s most recent programs have the support of Cuerdas Pulsadas, thus forming part of the initiatives and collaboration models with which Cuerdas Pulsadas is supporting professional activity (Declaración de instrumentos, Feel Past Fret, Dolce Rima…). Alfred was kind enough to respond to a simple interview for our blog:    
After a career devoted to the vihuela, rescuing a repertoire barely visited by contemporary musicians, what do you think is the perception of this instrument by the public? Do you think the vihuela is programmed and valued appropriately?  
During the Renaissance the vihuela was important in Spain and lands of Spanish influence, what the lute in the rest of Europe. This small guitar-like chordophone represented one of the most original and authentic instruments that have been “invented” in the Iberian Peninsula. In addition, the repertoire of cultured music that was written for him meant one of the highest peaks of European instrumentalism of the sixteenth century both for the amount of works that were written and for its exceptional artistic quality. That said, I can tell you that I am an interpreter used to working and presenting unpublished programs for vihuela at a concert level. In this sense, I am currently promoting a work based on the integral music of two voices for vihuela alone. I started to present this program in public a few years ago, playing it in countries totally alien to this repertoire such as Morocco or Brazil and in places closer to Spain and Europe. I have always had the feeling that people who come to hear me in concert when I play this music, enjoy it “in their own way.” The introspective environment that is generated live transports the listener to a reality whose essences are silence, quiet time and a certain meditative environment. I think it is important that the public also have access to this type of experience. Somehow isolating experiences. We are getting used to an extreme dynamic level where frivolity and superficiality are becoming, without realizing it, our way of BEING. So I do think that we need more of this type of artistic manifestation.
A few weeks ago we were able to count on Gracia Gil, a musicologist, currently working on a research project focused on Valderrábano. We also know that this vihuelist has always had a preferential place in your discography; Which vihuelist do you think best represents the language of this instrument?
Enríquez de Valderrábano’s music exudes a strange beauty that is difficult to describe. His fantasies, improvisations and arrangements of vocal music are absolutely personal visions and of obvious abstraction. This turns his study into a long and promising journey, in which you discover with him over the years its structures, textures, sensations and codes. It is a wonderful life experience. I honestly cannot tell you which vihuelist best represents the language of the vihuela since I consider that each one of them contributes, due to their originality, an essential part of that language, let’s say their own. Luis de Narváez is perhaps the one that attracts me the most since he masterfully manages to combine the strict compositional canons of his time, with an originality and fantasy typical of a genius. In this sense, Narváez is capable of converting an essentially vocal music into an absolutely idiomatic language for vihuela.
   
Although we were able to hear you recently at the Tiana Ancient Music Festival, what projects and what appointments can you review for the next few months?  
Among my most immediate projects is that of recording a CD with the complete DÚOS for vihuela. So far there have been two attempts to record this repertoire, the first is from about eight years ago… it was not ready. We’ll see if the third time is the charm.
  At present I am also promoting two monographic recitals for Renaissance lute. One dedicated to Francesco da Milano and the other to Francesco Spinacino. I also have some recitals and master classes for lute and vihuela for the next year. During the month of July I will be teaching a course on vihuela and Renaissance lute within the III Course and Festival of Medieval and Renaissance Music of Morella. In this same course I am going to perform a vihuela recital entitled INTERIOR CASTLE.   Castillo Interior (cuerdas pulsadas)-page-001   At the chamber level I am immersed in two interesting projects. One of them accompanying the excellent singer Marta Rodrigo through two programs: one dedicated to the music of Juan del Enzina and the other dedicated to human tones and baroque guitar music from the collections of Barcelona’s libraries. The other project was carried out with the SILVA DE SIRENAS ensemble. The soprano Esther Castells and the vihuelist Xavier Domínguez “accompany me” in a version of the CANCIONERO DE UPPSALA far removed from the current interpretative canons. We try to approach the genre of Renaissance songbooks from a vihuelistic point of view. The intimacy and the precise work of the texts are the starting points of SILVA DE SIRENAS.    
Alfred, in addition to just the programs, you have been part of the cycle with which we have inaugurated “ Declaration of instruments “. As a musician, as part of the professional circuit, what are the characteristics of the initiative that you would highlight?  
Declaración de instrumentos is a perfect platform to stimulate the dissemination of interesting repertoires and exceptional musicians, all of them specialized in old plucked string instruments.   One of the most striking characteristics is that Declaration of Instruments is not a management agency. The members that are part of it are committed in such a way that the work that each one carries out at an informative level, favors the others. Another of the most important issues is the informative work (specialized conferences) and the musicological work that unites all the pieces.   declaración de instrumentos   In addition to concerts, this platform offers the programmer other informative formats such as conferences, talks, master classes, etc. All this in a flexible format, so there are many advantages for the programmer and, of course, the result is very attractive and interesting for viewers.  
Thanks Alfred for your time.
   

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.