Lindsay Koob: Luiz, How did you get the news of BGQ’s GRAMMY win?
Luiz Mantovani: I was watching a concert on the day of the awards, and I didn’t pay attention to lots of cell phone messages and emails that were coming in. I checked after the concert, and was shocked to find out that we had won!
LK: How did you and your colleagues react?
LM: Like I say, I was shocked – it took awhile for the news to sink in. But we were all very happy. Everton was overjoyed, and wanted to have a big champagne celebration. Gustavo had left a nice congratulations message on the phone and even Tadeu, who usually is the one who keeps his feet on the ground, was ecstatic.
LK: Did you know the recordings of the other nominees? And did you feel you had a good chance to win?
LM: Speaking for myself, I wasn’t familiar with the other recordings, but I know most of the artists who were nominated. One of them was the very great guitarist Manuel Barrueco, another one was the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra with a recording of a Guitar Concerto with Brazilian virtuoso Fabio Zanon. There was also a great Brazilian pianist, Clara Sverner playing Chopin, and other great artists. So, among all this people, we just thought it was too difficult to foretell who was going to win and we were already happy with the nomination.
LK: Please tell me about the process of transcribing the music for the Villa-Lobos project. Like, were you all involved somehow in selecting or transcribing the music?
LM: Tadeu does all of our arranging, but the process is a collective thing. All of us come up with new ideas in rehearsals, and we all suggest ways to make things better, or to decide what player should get a certain part. Everybody has their inputs.
LK: What made you want to do an all-Villa-Lobos recording?
LM: Well, of course BGQ is mainly committed to playing Brazilian composers, and Villa-Lobos is the best known of them; audiences love it when we play his music in concert. Some of his best works are his string quartets, and for a long time it’s been a dream of ours to eventually play and record them – and that dream came true with this recording. And we also had to find other music by him that would sound good from a guitar quartet – but that wasn’t too hard, because Villa-Lobos wrote an amazing amount of music that we could choose from and we felt naturally inclined to his piano pieces.
LK: It’s interesting that you and Everton play the eight-string guitars developed by Paul Galbraith, the famous guitar innovator who used to play with BGQ. How does this affect your sound as an ensemble?
LM: The eight-string guitar has a greater dynamic range, with deeper bass and higher treble sound than the usual six-stringed instruments. It’s essential for the kind of rich, in-depth sound that the BGQ wants to get, and it gives us greater arranging possibilities which would not be possible or convincing with four regular instruments.
LK: What’s next for the BGQ? Do you have another CD planned?
LM: Our ongoing project is to select a good program featuring great Spanish composers – like Granados, Rodrigo, de Falla, and maybe others. But we’re still discussing things and Tadeu is making arrangements. Carol Rosenberger likes the idea, so this will be our next Delos recording, and we plan to release it in 2012.
LK: Are there any other composers or themes that you would like to work on in the future?
LM: As you know, we have already done a recording of the Bach orchestral suites. We want very much to do more Bach in the future. Bach works so well for a guitar quartet: we can make the counterpoint sound very clear to our listeners. And Bach is such a challenge, for any instrument or ensemble. You have to work so hard to get the necessary accuracy, the precision of attacks – but it’s worth it.
LK: Is there anything else you would like our blog readers to know?
LM: We are about to renovate our website, www.brazilianguitarquartet.com, to make it more interactive and easier to post recordings. And I want your readers to know that we all appreciate their interest and support so much.