Interview with Duo 19 – Part Deux

Here we are folks, back again with part two of my interview with Dan McKay and Antony Field of Duo 19. In case you missed it last week, check out the first part of the interview here.

Duo 19 – yes named after a tram line! (Photo credit: Rantz)

On with Part Deux!

Guitarists they most admire

Dan and Antony are both massive fans of Pavel Steidl. Antony, in fact, rates him as probably the top player on the circuit performing today. They both also rate their former teacher, Canberra-based Tim Kain. Antony rates him in particular  for “his sound, his phrasing, just the warmth and sincerity of his music-making is hard to find elsewhere. It’s a kind of rarity in a way, I think.

Interestingly Antony has a bit of a love-hate relationship with the playing of John Williams, finding his playing very absent sometimes (a view that I may have a tendancy to agree with), but feels he’s gotten better in that regard as he’s gotten older. However, he can’t go past Segovia “some of the way he phrases things was so unique. It really worked sometimes….like wow, that’s special. It just comes from a place where Segovia was at as a person.

Dan’s has two all-time favourite guitarists, with Alirio Diaz and Julian Bream vying for the top spot, and Pavel Steidl his favourite actively performing guitarist (and lucky Australian’s can check him out on tour this month and March with Karin Schaupp by the way).

Of Bream Dan had to say that “the Nocturnal, the first recording that Bream did was just great. I can’t imagine hearing better music.” Similarly with Segovia’s playing on some of the Castelnuovo-Tedescso works, “it was of a different age, a different kind of attention to different details in the playing I suppose. But the sound was just fantastic.”

The duo also share much love for local chaps Harold Gretton and Aleksandr Tsiboulski, as well as US guitarist Ben Verderey and Chinese star Xuefei Yang.

Some tips for you, dear readers!

I asked Dan and Antony’s to share their top tips for those currently studying guitar, or thinking about picking up the guitar for the first time…..Some wise words from the maestri:

  • Listen to the sound you make. This one is for students at any level – stop and say “is that the sound you want to make? “This is something that everyone can do fairly early on”, says Dan, “Even if you’re just learing to play your first notes on the third string or whatever, you can try to make it sound good you know, from the very start”.
  • It’s really important to not be thinking too far ahead. If you’re doing things that are too difficult for you, or comparing yourself to others and thinking that you should be really learning such-and-such piece – stop! Don’t worry about any of that. Antony advises to “just work with the material you’re working on with your teacher, getting that music to a point where you’re able to listen to it…..If it’s too difficult you’re probably not listening to yourself…..Stick with appreciating the sound and listening to the sound…
  • Adopt an attitude of “what else”?  Atune your ear, listen and think about what else you can get out of a particular phrase or piece. Think about what else is in the music other that what you’re playing at that moment. “That’s what keeps you alive and curious about music, to me anyway” says Antony.
  • Become familiar with the repertoire of the instrument. Go to concerts and recitals, listen to recordings, become familiar with the various pieces, the different styles. Listen and find those pieces that make you say “I feel like I just have to play this music” says Dan.
  • Always follow-up on what you were working on between lessons with your teacher. Write down what you’ve done in the lesson, but then also write down or remember and discuss with your teacher what you were working on away from the lesson. You spend more time practicing and playing away from the teacher (hopefully!) than you do with them. So there’s a lot of time and a lot of thinking and a lot of self-teaching going on. Dan advises on maximising your efforts by going through your own learnings during the week with your teacher.

Both guitarists feel the same that these principles apply to whatever level of guitarist you may be – whether you’re just picking up the guitar for the first time, you’re in your first year of learning, a tertiary student, or professional guitarist. The only separation between these is the levels of complexity involved. Antony says he stills applies these principles in his playing and adopts the very grounded attitude of “never feel like you’re above being reminded of that sound you’re creating….Or Oh what’s going on with the rhythm there…..we’re all human beings.”

Wise words indeed! Thanks for the interview guys and really looking forward to the next recording from Duo 19!

Ooh, and head here to check out Duo 19’s playing in action or purchase your very own copy of Fluid Lines:

Time to Get Excited! Karin Schaupp and Pavel Steidl on Tour in Oz!

Yes, that’s right – two of the best guitarists in the world under the one roof playing and performing for us throughout Australia in February and March. Woop woop!

English: Image based on this one, so I credite...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The lovely folks at Musica Viva are presenting these two artists together for the first time, with Karin and Pavel collaborating for us here in Australia in spite of the fact that they normally live some 16,000 km apart from one another!

The concert will delve into the history of the famous instrument from the tiny ‘Terz’ guitar made especially for this tour through the elegant 19th Century model beloved by Paganini before then moving on to the modern instrument.

Karin Schaupp, one of the most outstanding guitarists on the international scene, was taught almost exclusively by her mother from the age of five. While still in her teens Karin won prizes at international competitions in Italy and Spain, shooting. She is also a talented and engaging actress, performing (and playing) in Lotte’s Gift, a one woman show penned just for Karin by David Williamson in 2006. It’s a fantastic show and one I highly recommend you to see if you get the opportunity.

Pavel Steidl has amassed legions of fans, from his critically acclaimed, high-energy concerts, having performed in more than 40 countries. Aside from his truly outstanding playing his facial expressions are something to behold. This is a man who truly feels and expresses the essence of the music with every fibre of his being.

Speaking about the concert Pavel says that “This tour was Karin’s idea, and I immediately said yes. Because I know her recordings, and her work is very well-known. I didn’t hesitate. I immediately said yes, it’s fantastic.’’

Likewise Karin had to say that touring with Pavel will be a privilege. “I had attended his concerts. We’d met, but we’d never played together. I was of course completely awe-struck, because he’s an incredible guitarist and an incredible performer… I am super excited.”  Me too Karin!

The concert looks like it’s going to be a real stonker with some seriously good repertoire on the list. We’re going to be treated to a mix of solo and duo works including the following:

Johann Kaspar MERTZ
Am Grabe der Geliebten

Fernando SOR
L’Encouragement, op 34

Minuetto che va chiamando Dida, MS104
Valtz, MS84

Selections from from String Quartet no 9 in G minor, D173
(arranged by Julian Bream for two guitars, c 1983)

Selections from Spanish Dances, op 37

Torre Bermeja from 12 Piezas Caractéristicas, op 92

Djanaba (1997)

The barn owl has not flown away from On an Overgrown Path (1901)

Brolga (1994)

Chiquinha Gonzaga (Corta Jaca) from Suite Retratos (1956, arranged for two guitars 1981)

I’m personally really looking forward to hearing Karin and Pavel’s interpretation of Phillip Houghton’s Brolga. I’m also looking forward to hearing the stories and anecdotes that they’re going to regale the audience with between pieces too.

The tour kicks off in Noosa on 17th February and takes in Albany, Perth, Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne (twice – lucky us! On the 26th February and 2nd March), Canberra, Brisbane, back to Sydney and then rounding off the tour in Adelaide on 12th March. Phew! That’s a seriously fantastic schedule and if you’re in one of those cities I highly recommend you head along. Check out the Musica Viva website for further details:

I’ll be headed along to the Melbourne 2nd March date FOR SURE!! See you there!!

And if you can’t wait until then, here are a couple of tasters of Karin and Pavel in action to whet your appetite: