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Interview of Lawrence Johnson
Guitar Player (Sept. 1989) by Jim Ferguson

SOR LIVES! Although the 19th-century virtuoso/composer's music is considered the cornerstone of the classical guitar repertoire, ironically only a small percentage of it has ever been performed or recorded - but 47 year-old Lawrence Johnson is changing all of that. In 1983 he began the massive project of recording Sor's hundreds of solo guitar works. One compact disk and five cassette tapes later, he is well on his way of accomplishing his goal.  Recording Sor's complete pieces is not unprecedented - controversial virtuoso Kasuhito Yamashita documented the composer's works on a set of compact disks issued in Japan. However, instead of interpreting Sor's music from the classical perspective shared by most players, Johnson takes a romantic approach that favors expression and freer playing. Although this departure from tradition has invoked the ire of some critics, Johnson's eloquent and soulful playing speaks for itself.

A longtime resident of Rochester, New York, Lawrence Johnson participated in Segovia's 1966 master class in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and he has also studied with Christopher Parkening, John De Rose, Sophocles Papas, and Oscar Ghiglia. Although he teaches at Roberts Wesleyan College, most of his living comes from his day job driving a bus in the Rochester area. "I have a family to think about." he says, addressing one of the realities of being a musician. "I don't like teaching enough to make a career of it, so driving a bus is a good alternative. My wife Salena is incredibly supportive and I find time to be an artist in my spare time." Johnson's five volume (to date) tape series Solo Guitar Music of Fernando Sor, is issued by CRG (Box 11132, Rochester, NY 14611 $11.95 per cassette, $13.95 foreign). His CD. Solo Guitar Music of Fernando Sor, features selected works from the tape series and is available from Elan (P.O. Box 748, Adelphi, MD 20783)

Regardless whether you agree with Johnson's interpretations of Sor, it's difficult to not at least admire his commitment to exploring a new approach to 19th century music. While all too many players drift away from the guitar as time passes and life's responsibilities increase. Lawrence Johnson has found a unique way to make an important contribution to the instrument.

Jim Ferguson
SEGOVIA AND CHRISTOPHER PARKENING - Two of your teachers - are known for playing short pieces. How did you gravitate toward the extreme of working on a complete body of work?

Lawrence Johnson
I've always loved Sor's music. In fact when I played for Segovia, I mostly did Sor's works. I don't care what a guitarist plays, as long as it's well done. It doesn't matter if it's a bunch of three-minute pieces, or a full Bach lute suite. I don't find it ironic that I studied with Parkening, because it's his expressive playing that touches me. I'm not doing Sor because it's fashionable. One of the first things that turned me on to him was a Segovia recording of the Mozart variations [Opus 9], after which I started working with some of Sor's early studies to see what I could make of them.

How did you get into doing the complete works?
One day I decided to take a detailed look at Opus 11 [Deux Themes Varies Et Douze Menuets ], and find if there was enough quality there to merit playing the entire thing. You can't get a good idea of a composition just by sight-reading it; you have to work on it for a while. Too many guitarists judge a piece of music based on a superficial read-through. I was amazed at how much I loved Opus 11, and the more I played other works, the more I wanted to record everything Sor wrote. So the series started back in '83, when I recorded Opus 11, parts of Opus 6 [Twelve Studies], and a few other things. At first I didn't have the idea of recording everything myself. I knew that I wanted to do a lot of Sor, and I wanted to do a complete opus number at a time to do justice to the music's quality. Not surprisingly, I couldn't find a company interested in doing a project that expensive, so in 1985 I decided to do it myself.

Many concert guitarists like to work with a piece for a year before they play it in public or record it.
I pretty much don't record anything until I've played it for a year, off and on. I approach a piece by learning it, dropping it for a few months, and picking it up again. That way, my mind subconsciously works on the piece during the off periods, which gives me a chance to practice something else. How to perfect a piece is very difficult to pinpoint. Of course, when you're doing an entire body of work, you can't be too picky, or you'll never complete the project.

Is your expressive approach to Sor inspired by Segovia?
Yes. There has been a trend to get away from Segovia's influence, but l don't think that's a good idea. Maybe he did some things that weren't good, but he was a great musician who knew more about playing the guitar expressively than anyone I've heard. Segovia played a very large body of music from different centuries. People either like Segovia or they don't; there doesn't seem to be a middle ground, which is ridiculous. Of course he was human and had his faults, but he was one of the greatest artists of the period.

Do you think there is too much emphasis on perfection, and not enough on expression?
Yes. Segovia had such a long career because he communicated with an audience. I have a tape of him playing at the White House in 1979 when he was in his eighties. If you compare it to the recordings made during his prime, then you're liable to think that it's pretty bad; however, you have to remember that it's a performance and not a recording. Today, people expect your playing to be just like a recording, which removes the human element and makes it very difficult for you to communicate with an audience. For example, playing for a guitar society is especially difficult, because the members tend to listen to your technique rather than the music. Non-guitarists have more realistic expectations.

What source material are you using for the Sor project?
Brian Jeffery's facsimile editions are the basic source [Ed. Note: Jeffery's Fernando Sor: Complete Works For Guitar is available from TECLA Editions,  (www.tecla.com  P.O. Box 7567 London NW3 2LJ) Over the years I've collected a lot of different editions. I generally agree with Jeffery that the earliest edition is the best, but not always. For example, a later version of Opus 11, No.4, is much superior to the earlier edition. The early edition was by Meissonnier, and the later edition comes out of Buenos Aires. It's very difficult to tell what is authentic Sor and what isn't, since the original manuscripts don't exist.

Isn't combining performance and musicology a little risky, especially if there are no original manuscripts?
Sure. Whenever you begin to favor one edition over another and develop an interpretational approach, you open yourself up to criticism. For example, I agree with Jeffery that the earliest version of Opus 14 ["Grand Solo"] is the best, and I played that version on my first cassette. To generate sales, I sent tapes to about 100 members of the Guitar Foundation of America, and I got some letters back complaining that I was disobeying Sor's notations and this and that. Apparently, they'd heard Julian Bream or someone play it from a different edition, and assumed it was definitive. I couldn't believe that people had such strong opinions about something they hadn't bothered to investigate.

Have you experienced much bias against Sor's music?
Yes, but it's based on ignorance. Most people are familiar with only the Mozart variations, a few of the studies, the "Grand Solo," and a couple of other things that represent only a very small percentage of his total output. Some of the reviews I've gotten have displayed a lot of ignorance. For example, a reviewer in a British classical guitar magazine stated something to the effect that there were only six good works by Sor. Ten years down the road, that statement is going to come back to haunt him.

How easy is it to be authoritative about such a large body of work?
It isn't. I certainly don't know all there is about Sor's music. I've read through just about everything that Sor did, but there is no way I could know it without studying it. There are probably some pieces that I wouldn't recognize even if I heard them.

Do you get tired of playing Sor?
His music has incredible depth, but sometimes it is good to take a break and do something else. Recently I've been playing music by the 16th-century vihuelist Fuenllana, which I read directly from the tablature. He was such a great contrapuntalist, which makes me wonder why his music isn't played very much. I've also been doing some of the pieces that Segovia wrote, such as Five Anecdotes, "Neblina," and "Oracion" [Belwin-Mills]. They're exquisite little pieces that are deeper than some of the short things he did by Tedesco and Ponce, but they probably aren't fashionable right now because they're miniatures.

Have you considered playing the Fuenllana or Sor on period instruments?
I prefer the modern guitar, although some period fanatics think you're a fool for playing old music on a contemporary instrument. I have a 19th-century German instrument, and sometimes I pull it out to hear how certain pieces sound on it, but if you're playing for an audience, a modern guitar projects so much better.

What instruments do you play?
I did my earliest recordings on a guitar built in 1964 by Jose Mercado, a Puerto Rican who lived in New York. Recently I acquired a 1986 Jesus Marzal, who worked at the Ramirez workshop in Barcelona, and then opened his own shop.

How did Sor evolve as a composer?
Most people are familiar with his early works. As he evolved, he adopted a freer approach to form, for one thing. Opus 59 [Fantasy Elegiaque] is a fairly good example of a later work. It's big, and it has nothing to do with the sonata form of his early period. But none of his sonatas follow the classical sonata form, except Opus 15b ["Sonata Seconda"]. If you compare Opus 22 [Grand Sonata] to Opus 25 [Deuxieme Grand Sonata], which evidently is a later work, you'll notice that Opus 25 is more like a fantasy.

What observations have you made about Sor's use of harmony?
He never got away from a classical sense of harmony, although once you make a generalization like that, you'll find a work where he goes all over the place. He obviously knew modulation, as well as how to do unusual things. For example, Opus 14 suddenly goes into Db. If you interpret it right, it's very effective. He does things like that when he wants, but not with the freedom of say, Schubert; however, it's not fair to make comparisons like that. In Sor's own terms, he's a masterful composer. If you compare him in terms of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, and Chopin, you're going to say they're better, since they're already recognized. It's easy for people to criticize Sor, since most people haven't heard his music and there isn't a performance tradition, but that will change.

Did Sor's works change technically?
Yes. For example, Opus 52 ["Fantasie Villageoise"] features 6th-fret harmonics. Although they're out of tune compared to equal temperament, he used them to create an almost impressionistic atmosphere that's very effective. I haven't heard anyone bring that piece to life so far, but I think that's because Sor hasn't been approached from a romantic perspective. The Romantic period [1820 to 1900] was well underway during the later part of Sor's life, and by the time he died in 1839, Chopin had written half of his works.

Many players aren't aware that Sor wrote over 100 studies.
He wrote 121 studies, to be exact. Many of them haven't been played. For example, Opus 31, No.18, in B minor, is exquisite; I like it a lot better than the B minor piece referred to as "Study No.5" in Segovia's Studies For The Guitar By Fernando Sor [Edward B. Marks Music, dist. by Hal Leonard, 7777 W. Bluemound, Milwaukee, WI 53213]. Sor's studies have a high degree of musical content. Of the 121, only about three of four don't pass muster.

Segovia's editions of Sor often don't coincide with Jeffery's facsimilies. What is your attitude regarding changing a piece of music?
I use my instincts. I like some of the changes represented in Segovia's editions, and I play them. Since there are no original manuscripts, the subject of authenticity is vague anyway, so if I feel like doing something, then I go ahead.

How much do you intellectualize your interpretations?
Mostly I play from the heart. Although I feel that Sor's dynamic and tempo indications should be followed somewhat, if I feel that something else works, then I do it. I try what's indicated in the score, but if I feel it doesn't work, then I go in another direction. For example, Opus 35, No.22, which Segovia calls "Study No.5," is marked Allegretto; however, the piece doesn't make much sense that way. To me, it should be played lento, and very smoothly and lyrically. I don't expect everyone to accept my interpretations as gospel, but I don't think that Sor's dynamic and tempo indications should be taken all that literally. Some of the things I do could be wrong, but they feel right to me.

What advice can you offer to help someone develop an interpretation?
Listen to music for violin, piano, chamber group, and orchestra - non-guitar music. It's difficult to teach interpretation and how to play with feeling. Segovia taught by having his students imitate him, which I think is a good way. After all, jazz guitarists learn by copying players such as Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery. Of course, you have to have an excellent example to pattern yourself after. It seems as if it's almost unfashionable to play with feeling these days, which has led to things being very mechanistic. If Segovia felt like rolling a chord or sliding up to a note, he'd do it; but if a guitarist does that today, then the critics get up in arms.

How would you assess the technical demands of Sor's music?
To play Sor, you have to have a terrific left hand; in that regard, his music is as difficult as anything. And he didn't avoid certain keys because they're difficult on the guitar. For example, he liked the key of C minor, and included long passages in Eb that are hard to play. Giuliani was a fine composer in his own right, but his music is much more guitaristic, in that it falls into certain patterns that work well on the instrument and are very flashy. However, Sor was interested in achieving his musical ideas. Some of Sor's slow music is tough. For instance, the adagio section to Opus 22, which is in C minor, has to be played very flowingly, which isn't easy. Sor evidently could handle it, so he wrote it that way. He included a lot of arpeggios and harmonics, and he used etouffe [a muting effect]. On the other hand, he doesn't use a lot of fast scales. One of the trickiest aspects of playing Sor is being able to bring out the important lines. Basically, you have to be a darn good guitarist to play his music.


Guitar International, February 1988, Vol. 16 #7. Issue 187
Lawrence Johnson, Guitarist With a Mission
 
Interview by David McConnell

Lawrence Johnson is an American guitarist devoted to performing music of the 19th century guitarist composers, particularly Fernando Sor, whose complete works he is currently recording. (The American company Elan Records are also issuing highlights from Johnson's recordings).

Since Johnson doesn't concertize much it is through his recordings that he has become known to the public and the critics; certain of the latter becoming very upset with both the project and Johnson's overtly romantic approach to Sor. Interestingly, the critiques of non-guitarists have been uniformly favourable; such as that in the American classical record magazine "Fanfare" (May 1986) by John D. Wiser, an erudite music critic who praised both the music and the performer's "eloquent playing." A year later this reviewer had much the same thing to say about Johnson's second recording: "Johnson is a dependable and stylish performer and his recording conveys solidity and plentiful detail. . . "

However our asking David McConnell to interview the guitarist was not out of quixotic sentiments but simply because Lawrence Johnson's sturdy individualism suggested strong and interesting views.

Lawrence Johnson was born in North Tonawanda, New York on the 20th July 1942. He began playing the steel strung guitar at the age of fifteen, during the Rock and Roll era, accompanying himself in songs by Elvis Presley, Bobby Darren and others. At the age of seventeen, his father bought him a Segovia record, and it was this that projected him permanently into the world of classical guitar and classical music generally.

Lawrence Johnson comes from a musical family, his mother taught and played the piano; his father also taught music, and played violin and viola in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Lawrence's mother attempted to teach him the piano, which turned out to be a hopeless task; his father then sent him to the preparatory department of the Eastman School of Music, but the young Lawrence kept breaking his'cello to get out of practising, so this venture also bore no fruit. (One is here reminded of the late Andres Segovia, who was once ousted from the Conservatoire with his 'cello, with the remark that he "had no talent!")

"When I was seventeen, I converted my acoustic steel string guitar to nylon strings. I took a piece of wood and made a bridge and tied some nylon strings on and that was my guitar for about three or four months. I found a book down in one of the local music stores here by a fellow named Arai entitled "Learning the Classical Guitar." It was quite a popular method back then. It had both tablature and music notation. Well, I already had some experience with musical notation, so I knew how it worked but the tablature gave me a great deal of help, so I started learning pieces from the book.

"I began to study by myself for the first year and a half as there was no teacher in Rochester. There was nobody in the whole area. I didn't know how to find a teacher. So, for the first year and a half at least, I tried to teach myself. There was a fellow who claimed to be a teacher but he evidently heard that I played better than he did and so, every time I went over to his house, he would be gone some place. Finally, through Sophocles Papas I found a teacher in Niagara Falls, New York, which was about 70 miles away, whose name was John De Rose. He was really quite a fine guitarist. He taught me much about using the nails and so forth - I had no idea what to do with my nails! I started using my nails before I got to him because I had read in a guitar magazine that the nails were to be used. But naturally, not knowing anything about it, I did it all wrong.

"I also found another teacher in Buffalo who is still there. His name is Oswald Rantucci. He was of the school of Alexander Bellow in New York. I didn't really understand his school but I did what he wanted me to do and I turned it around and ended up playing off the right side of the nails A la Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya. To this day, I play off both sides of the nail. It amuses me that there are these schools of thought on this simply because there are qualities to be obtained playing off both sides. So that is how John De Rose used the Segovian left side of the nail method, or supposedly Segovian, though I believe Segovia occasionally used the right side himself I watched some of his films and so forth, and it appears that occasionally he does sneak over and use the right side." 

These lessons didn't work out too well and two years later, Lawrence moved to Washington to study with Sophocles Papas. "I took about six months of lessons with Sophocles Papas and I met a number of other guitarists down there and it was a very healthy situation. Not so much the lessons with Mr. Papas but mostly being around other people who played the instrument. . I'd been so alone in Rochester, there was only one other person who played at all, who I found later on, and we formed a Guitar Society but it was a very isolated kind of situation. I lived in Washington for about two years and made a number of friends who played guitar, heard many concerts and really got involved with the guitar there."

After two years, Lawrence decided to move to New York City. Before leaving, however, Lawrence attended a master-class given by the Presti-Lagoya duo in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

"I learned a great deal from them about playing off the right side of the nails but I still believe to this day that their method of exclusive right side playing is not ideal.

"In New York, I taught in several schools for a living. I didn't study with anyone but in 1966 I went to a Segovia Masterclass at Winston-Salem in North Carolina. That is where I met Christopher Parkening and Michael Lorimer and met Guillermo Fierens and many other people.

"After that Masterclass, I decided I needed some more work so between 1970 and 1973 I took several classes with Oscar Ghiglia in Toronto and in St. Louis, Missouri. I didn't study with anybody after that. I eventually married and had various problems of trying to rear my children and make enough money to support my family. One thing about my existence is that I have always been fortunate to find some other work besides playing and teaching the guitar, I worked as a mail clerk in the Library of Congress. In Rochester I did construction work, roofing, a lot of different things. Right now I drive a bus for a living. I became too old to do all those physical jobs. This is the best job I have had and it gives me enough money to finance my recordings.

In the summer of 1983, Lawrence Johnson studied with Christopher Parkening, whom he had met at the Segovia Masterclass in 1966.

"That was really quite a happy reunion. He remembered me because we had been quite friendly at the 1966 Segovia Masterclass but I had more or less lost contact with him. I studied with him at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, in the Summers of 1983 and 1984.

Lawrence Johnson made his first recording in 1970; this consisted of some of his own compositions, a sonata and several short works. This was followed in 1974 by a second record.

"On this I included Sor's sonata Op. 25 complete. I believe it was the first recording ever of the Op. 25 piece. There was a Fantasia by Francesco da Milano which, I believe, was a first recording. All the music at that time, I believe, were first recordings. Believe it or not, in 1974 the Bach Prelude and Presto from the 3rd Lute Suite had not been recorded before. Also, there was a short work by John Duarte that I found in an old Guitar Review,  also Sor's Sicilienne from Op. 33 and a Presto from Op. 36. I still have several copies of that record but I am not too proud of it, so I don't push it any more."

Lawrence has studied theory, harmony and composition with David Russell Williams, who was a professor at the Eastman School of Music, and has written some music, but decided to eschew composition in favour of specialising in the interpretation and study of 19th century guitar music, with particular emphasis on the works of Sor.

Studies in old music were not neglected, and Lawrence delved into the 16th century works of the Spanish Vihuelistas, reading direct from tablature. He also plays some lute music, notably that of Francesco da Milano and some of the English school, as represented in the "Varietie of Lute Lessons" (1610) of Robert Dowland. Nevertheless, his main field of interest is 19th century music, and he believes the Sor project will help to educate detractors to realise that there is much fine music in this period worthy of various attention. Not impressed with the sound of 19th century guitars that he has heard, Lawrence believes the music derives greater benefit from being played on the modern instrument with its greater tone and sonority.

"I feel we have to get one composer very well documentated so that we can, perhaps, see that there is a great deal of good literature in the 19th century. I feel that Sor is, perhaps, the best of these composers, although I don't wish to put value judgement on this. If someone came along and said Giuliani was better, I would say 'that's fine, that's your opinion.' But I would like to record all the works of Sor with the idea that people could see that we would have a real treasure there. Unfortunately, most people go by their prejudices and won't even listen. Most people seem to believe that there isn't that much good 19th century music and so they won't even listen to new 19th century music with an open mind.

"Strangely enough I have never seen or played a 19th century guitar. I have heard recordings of it and I am not particularly impressed. I do not feel that playing a 19th century guitar is part of my mission. Lots of people play this music on the guitar and the guitars that people have are not 19th century guitars - they are modern instruments, and that is what people are learning to play these days - modern instruments using nails. Unfortunately, we guitarists seem to get hung up with these things even more so than other instrumentalists. You never see any criticism against a pianist playing Beethoven on a modern instrument. In reviews of people in the piano world who play original instuments or copies, it is always treated as a curiosity, and sometimes is given praise for what it is. But that doesn't disallow playing that music on a modern piano.

"I feel that Sor should be mostly played on a modern instrument. If I knew of somebody who has a Panormo guitar, I would like to try it and see what it sounds like. Of course, to be authentic, you have to play it the way Sor played it and he didn't use nails. We really do not know how he didn't use nails. He gave some clues in his method as to how he might have played some things. For instance, the etouffe sound is quite different from modern etouffe sound and yet people today when they come across an indication in Sor's music to play etouffe, play it with the modern etouffe sound. According to his method, it is done completely different. It is done with the left hand. So really to me it is almost a hoax when I hear somebody playing 19th century music on a 19th century guitar. How authentic is the sound. I do not believe it's authentic at all. Usually the result to my ear has been pretty much dead. Maybe I haven't heard the right people. I don't wish to name names so I won't. Sor is a romantic composer and is full of life; so full of good humour. Sometimes very sad, sometimes very happy; sometimes it is just deep and profound and these people who do this on the 19th century guitar - the effect is just boredom to me. I'd much rather listen to many of Sor's pieces played by Julian Bream or Segovia, and played with good warm sound and a few slides and things which people are afraid to do today than to hear these people get up and play these old guitars!"

Lawrence Johnson has always been inspired by Segovia and this is very evident in his performances, therefore it comes as no surprise to him that in today's so-called eclectic atmosphere where even a 'neutral' tone or 'harpsichord' tone is preferred to a warm 'Spanish' tone, this aspect of his playing isn't to everyone's taste.

"Many people in the guitar community are in infantile adolescent rebellion against the influence of Segovia. At least this is my belief. Matanya Ophee seems to be hung up on this. He seems to want to criticise Segovia at all costs under a pseudo scholastic approach. He's a very smart fellow but his aim seems to be more to be critical of Segovia rather than to provide us with erudite scholarly articles. I find this is true in a lot of guitarists I have talked to. They want to disassociate themselves from Segovia; from this influence. Segovia is the father of modern guitar playing. Segovia could express more on our instrument than any other guitarist I know. We should learn how he expressed things. Many lessons are still to be learnt from Segovia. The man was one of the greatest and was recognized in the whole firmament of classical music, not just the guitar community, as one of the greatest performing artists of the mid 20th century. We are crazy if we reject his influence. I am not saying do everything like Segovia. I don't believe I do. But try to get his warmer tone; try to project a magic in your performance as Segovia did. I used to go to Segovia's concerts and sit there enthralled. Not all the time - he had his bad moments and his good moments. Even the last concert I attended, which was about ten years' ago, about half of the concert was simply enthralling. He didn't play technically as well as many younger guitarists at the time but there was nobody who could play the guitar so exquisitely and as beautifully as Segovia. The guitar has gone downhill. People talk about the excellence of modern players but this is not true. Modern players are not as good in musical expressive sense as Segovia was. Now we have a greater technical level and some of the guitarists are really quite good musicians too, but we don't have any level of magic in the performance as we had in Segovia's performances. Segovia does many wonderful things. The use of glissando; the way he often rolled chords. Alright, sometimes he might over do this feature in his playing, or over do glissandos and portamento and things like that. But his use of wonderful, beautiful, etherial tone; his use of little effects like holding the top voice of a chord to sing the melody a little more; these are all things which created a magic in his playing and these are all things which could create magic in anybody else's playing. What we need to find is how to use many of these expressive elements that the guitar is good at in a different way from which Segovia used them, but not to just reject them altogether. The guitarists today are on the war path against Segovia's fatherly influence. This is absurd. I suppose you will find pianists and violinists who to a certain extent don't play the same way as Fritz Kreisler or Serge Rachmaninov played them many years ago but it's no way near to the absurd level that the guitarists try not to play like Segovia played. I'm influenced by him. I love Segovia. I'll openly and unashamedly admit that I am influenced by him. For my money I can listen to a Segovia performance - a recording of Segovia of thirty, forty, fifty years' ago and it is more vital today than the most modern performance that was done a year ago or two years' ago or three' ago. It has more vitality today, more meaning today than the most modern performance. Segovia's performances, especially the ones he did back in the nineteen thirties all the way through to the nineteen sixties, they are much better than anything being done today. Although the technical level, you might say, has improved, we don't have the artistry that was prevalent; we don't have the peaks that were prevalent. I think a lot of this has to do with attitude. We have an attitude sort of like a bunch of junior executives today. We don't want to offend anybody so we get a good tone but not a great tone and we have a good rhythm but not a great rhythm; we try not to do anything which might offend anybody. We don't put too much vibrato in; we don't put too many split notes in; don't break too many chords; don't say anything that is vital today. It's music to be unoffensive, you might say. It is really a sort of lack of courage. Segovia and other performers of his era, violinists, pianists and so forth, got out there and took a chance and had courage and stood up for the way they played. Today nobody seems to have that kind of courage. We're like the junior executive who is afraid of offending the senior executive; the one with all the money or whatever. That is not what art is all about though unfortunately.

"I believe that we're in a winter season right now. But beautiful playing will come back. A hundred and fifty years from now guitarists will listen to Segovia and they'll say 'this is beautiful playing.' "
David McConnell


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