New Classical Tracks: Guitarist Thibaut Garcia takes deep dive into Bach's legacy with new album
Bach Inspirations: Thibaut Garcia (Erato)
From the time he was about 12 years old, French guitarist Thibaut Garcia dreamed about being on the road and making people happy the way his idols Julian Bream and John Williams have done throughout their careers. After taking first prize in the Sevilla Competition in Spain, those dreams started to come true. Now, at age 24, Thibaut Garcia has just released his third solo recording, Bach Inspirations, which highlights three famous works by Bach and juxtaposes them with other works inspired by this great Baroque master.
The centerpiece of the recording is Bach's well-known Chaconne from his Partita No. 2. What makes this work so significant?
"The thing is that, compared, for example, to the other pieces he composed for solo instrument, it's the biggest by far. It's the most complete and complex piece. There is everything in that piece. All the variations using a different pattern, and also the fact that he's playing with minor and major, so he's playing with a lot of emotional aspects. I think this piece is just incredible."
The recording concludes with two other works from cantatas of his. Why did you decide to feature these two pieces on this recording?
"The guitar can be considered — as it's a polyphonic instrument — considered as a little orchestra or a piano or a lot of different instruments. And I like to think on the guitar you have a small orchestra, but also a vocal aspect, like voices. I wanted to play with this aspect, and I chose these two beautiful chorales that a lot of people know and can identify themselves to this music."
Other composers on this recording were inspired by Bach, and they pay tribute to him in their pieces. Perhaps the most familiar might be those by Villa-Lobos. The Aria from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5. And that features a delightful soprano. Tell me about her.
"Yeah, Elsa Dreisig. She's really amazing. I met her during one of her concerts in Paris. I remember after the first piece, I said like, 'Oh, I want to play with her in my next album.' She's an incredible soprano and now she's touring everywhere. She's touring the Staatsoper Berlin in the biggest productions."
There is a Serbian-born composer and guitarist featured on this work, and his name is Dusan Bogdanovic. He's a leading figure in today's guitar world, blending everything from classical to jazz, some ethnic elements, and yet, this style may be the closest to Bach in many ways. Can you explain that?
"He actually wrote a book called Counterpoint on the Guitar. So that was just an evidence for me to record some pieces by him, because he understands very well the counterpoint — so the essence of the music of Bach — and he understands perfectly the guitar because he's a great guitarist. So he's the perfect mix."
There is a set of inventions — an homage to Bach from a Polish-born composer, Alexandre Tansman. And it was written for Segovia, but he never performed them. Why is that?
"It's not easy at all to play because it's written — let's say, musically speaking, and not guitaristically speaking. So, I think Segovia wanted something because maybe he didn't have time, you know, that could be playable like that."
Andres Segovia helped you fall in love with the music of Bach. Can you share that story?
"The memory I have from the first Bach recording I heard is Segovia playing a Bach gavotte from a violin partita. And I loved it so much that my dream was to play that gavotte."
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.