In Review, Jason Vieaux, Cleveland, OH, April 9, 2011

Jason Vieaux joins the Cleveland Pops for Rodrigo’s famous “Aranjuez” Concerto.  Mr Vieaux, Guitar Foundation of America competition winner, Azica recording artist and Head of the Cleveland Institute of Music Guitar Department, has a very busy schedule.  Concerto de Aranjuez is a favorite among classical music lovers (and mine) and this concert will be one not to miss if you are in the area.

Where: Cleveland Pops.  Severance Hall

When: April 9th, 8:00 pm

Q & A

Congratulations on your success.  I remember purchasing your second CD,
Naxos GFA winner recital CD, 1992 release.  This was years ago, when I was
just starting to be interested in classical guitar.  Nine CDs later, here we are
and your Metheny and Bach CDs are critically-acclaimed and recommended by fans and audiophiles alike.  Is your personal approach to recording music changed over the years and can you tell us a little of what goes into your preparation to recording?

With recording nowadays, I try to not think about the precision of the initial performance takes, and just focus on mood, communication, dynamic range (which gets flattened by mics), and allowing for more than one expressive idea for a particular phrase.  It gives my producer more options during the editing process.  I’m a little more loose and relaxed about recording now than I used to be, because I’m more confident that the architecture of the piece as rendered (hopefully!) through my interpretation should remain intact. When you’re making your first recording, you’re not sure how it’s all going to come together, but I feel I’ve been lucky to have
one of the best producers in the business (Alan Bise of Azica Records), so after 12 recordings it’s gotten a little easier.

Following up on the “Images of Metheny”  CD; many of us are very interested  in the release of a  Pat Metheny transcriptions sheet music book.  Any news to report on that project?

I’ve finished fingerings/transcription of the final two pieces from that CD, so now it’s just proofreading and then off to a publisher, which would have to be Hal Leonard Publishing if it is to see the light of day.

As posted on this blog, you are scheduled to perform the “Concerto de  Aranjuez” by the infamous Joaquín Rodrigo.  This is one of the most frequent classical music pieces played in the world and one you have played several times  before.  To me, the Aranjuez is my favorite piece in the classical repertoire as   it inspired me to listen to classical music, in the first place.  What are your  feelings about this piece?

In my opinion, of all the well-known concertos, Concierto de Aranjuez is probably the best guitar concerto as a composition (with Ponce Concierto del Sur as the only possible exception), with the best slow movement, the best cadenza, and it’s also the most difficult of the well-known concerti.  The solo guitar cadenza (a single guitar) brings the piece to its emotional climax, how cool is that!  I never get tired of performing it, as it always
challenges me as a guitar player.  I perform it about 10 – 15 times a year, so it’s gotten easier to play over the years.

Performing the classical guitar with a symphony must be a bit of a challenge due to the instrument’s lack-of-volume?

I have a very good guitar by Gernot Wagner, and I use a smidgen of amplification to round out the sound a little, using just a small amp by my side and an external mic.

You must enjoy the spotlight of a guitar concerto.  What is the most  challenging aspect of performing with a large symphony for you (or as a guitarist)?

Well, by silk degrees, I end up playing it a little differently every time, as I view the performance/rehearsal as a kind of chamber music partnership between myself, the conductor, and the members of the orchestra.  So, I’ve tried to be flexible while still maintaining the interpretive, rhythmic, expressive, and structural essence of the piece.

Many artists have recorded the Aranjuez.  Any thoughts of recording a performance for release?  Any new recordings forthcoming?

Azica Records and I are working on it, but no news yet.

I have to ask you about teaching.  Besides the recording, tours, concerts; you are a professor of the guitar at the Cleveland Institute of Music.  Do you  enjoy teaching?  Are you changing the way you teach the instrument over the  years?

I enjoy teaching very much.  I look forward to starting my new position at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia alongside David Starobin, and continue to head and develop the CIM Guitar Program, which I am proud to say has very high level players and is still improving dramatically.  I feel I have a lot of information and experience to share with young players, information that I’ve always given freely.  Of course, one changes as they
grow and mature, but I’ve always handled each student according to their individual strengths and weaknesses.  I’ve never had a “style” or “method”, because there’s so much great information and playing out there that I want to draw from.  I’m learning and growing each year too.


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  1. #1 by Jack Doyle on April 4, 2011 - 9:09 AM

    “Rodrigo’s infamous “Aranjuez” Concerto”, infamous??

    • #2 by Matthew Beal on April 5, 2011 - 8:51 AM

      Thanks Jack! Acknowledged! The concerto is famous, of course. Are you available for proofreading?

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