New Classical Tracks®

Guitarist Frederic Hand celebrates outstanding 40-year career at Met and beyond

Frederic HandCourtesy of artist


New Classical Tracks - Frederic Hand (Extended)

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August 03, 2022

Frederic Hand — Across Time (New Focus Recordings) Jump to giveaway form

New Classical Tracks - Frederic Hand

”I'm not sure why this happened, but he started to sing at a slower tempo. I had this moment of panic,” guitarist Frederic Hand said during one of the many stories he can tell about his role as the official guitarist for the Metropolitan Opera. “Here we are, and it comes down to the guitar player to make a decision whether to follow the conductor or to follow the most famous singer in the world. I remember all these things rushing through my head, ‘Why me?’ — I decided to follow Luciano Pavarotti.”

Along with his role at the Met, which he held for decades, he’s written music for five soap operas, films and a vibrant solo career of 40 years, which is celebrated on his latest recording, Across Time.

In general, what will we hear on this album?

“Forty years ago, I did a recording called Trilogy. It was all original compositions, and that was the first time I used jazz harmonies and rhythms. That album was the beginning of solidifying my style. I was able to get the masters and have it digitally remastered. I'm happy because I can reintroduce that album to several other generations.

“There are three new pieces written during the first couple of years of the pandemic. They really do reflect us being in a pandemic in terms of feelings, especially the first piece, “Renewal.” There was a time, especially when the vaccines first came out, that it seemed like a big ray of light was coming in. There was hope. That hope is expressed in the music with a very joyful jazz waltz.

“Then the piece ends with contemplated harmonics. That's musically the representation of what I was feeling during the pandemic. If I were to write it now, I'm not quite sure what I would do, because it's so confusing.  

“I also had three songs that I had recorded with my wife with texts by Shakespeare’s character Orsino. Those were done in my home studio, and they haven't seen the light of day until now. I'm excited about that. So that's the gist of the album, and that's why I called it Across Time.”

How did your mentee inspire you to write a ballad for Astor Piazzolla?

His name is Federico Diaz, and he's a Piazzolla specialist. He devoted his doctorate to the music of Piazzolla. He told me at the end of his stay he wanted to do a concert of solo music by people who were influenced by Piazzolla. He asked people to create new music.”

Tell us about “A Waltz for Maurice.”

I would say in terms of composers influencing the way that I voice chords on the guitar, Maurice Ravel is my main influence. I'm trying to imitate him. I said before I was imitating Bill Evans, but Evans is coming out of the Ravel tradition.”

To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Resources

Frederic Hand — Across Time (Amazon)

Frederic Hand (official site)