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GABRIEL ESTARELLAS
“A life for music”

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In 1970 Angelo had already begun to build the important collection of 20th century guitar music for the "Bèrben" publishing house in Ancona.

His constant work to solicit compositions written for guitar was absolutely remarkable and all of us guitarists owe him a lot for having been able to expand the repertoire of our instrument in such a relevant way.

Angelo commissioned new works from numerous composers (the majority of whom were not guitarists), in order to integrate and enrich the collection of which Fabio Boccosi, owner of Bèrben, had entrusted him with the artistic direction.

Every time I had the opportunity to spend time in Vercelli Angelo generously hosted me in his home; I can still feel the kindness and thoughtfulness with which Signora Sandra, Angelo's mother, welcomed me every time.

Living with him I therefore had the opportunity to see the various compositions lying on his desk waiting to be reviewed and fingered. And it was a real privilege to be able to read them before anyone elsenew works.

I remember that on a particular occasion Angelo told me that he had received a new piece by an important English composer; it was Lennox Berkeley and his manuscript of the "Theme and Variations". At that time I had Berkeley's Sonatina in my repertoire and being faced with the pages of one of his new works was an emotion I will never forget. I read those notes with great attention, trying to assimilate their musical meaning as much as possible. I fell so deeply in love with that work that when, after a few weeks, I returned to Majorca, I had memorized every detail. I obviously waited for Angelo to have it printed and presented to the world before including it in my concert programmes.

Writing about someone you've had the opportunity to live with for a long time isn't easy. There are many i moments that inhabit your memory and it is difficult to choose which one most deserves to be narrated. But these lines are meant to be only a brief memory, an affectionate memory.

In fact, many pages could be written in an eloquent and exhaustive way to tell my relationship with Angelo Gilardino.

I met Angelo in Vercelli way back in September 1970. The opportunity presented itself as I decided to participate in the "Giovan Battista Viotti International Guitar Competition", organized in Vercelli.

At the time I was only 17 and Angelo was 29.

More than half a century is the time during which Angelo and I have been bound by a deep friendship, and in all this time many things have happened; we were able to share many of the professional and personal experiences that have shaped our lives.

I will tell some of them, with the knowledge that it is only a very modest part of what happened during this long journey.

  

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Between 1970 and 1975 my meetings with Angelo were very frequent; I had to go to Italy often to give concerts and I did everything possible to be able to spend a few weeks together with Angelo in Vercelli.

On those occasions Angelo allowed me to re-read all the new repertoire he had received for the Bèrben "collection".

Thus I got to know dozens and dozens of new compositions; many composers had in fact begun to propose their works to Angelo in the hope that they would be published in the "Collezione" which was by now known and appreciated all over the world. During that time I was able to read and play for Angelo important works by Dodgson, Rosetta, Santòrsola, Wissmer and many others before they were published, and I am absolutely certain that this incredible opportunity helped determine my artistic and professional destiny.

My relationship with Angelo has always been based on mutual admiration and deep respect, both personally and professionally.

Every time we started building a new project we felt the need to exchange views, to feel mutual support, and even on the rare occasion when our ideas seemed somehow different, a constructive word was never lacking, a piece of advice to achieve the best possible result. .

Angelo's reflections and opinions were always the result of profound reflection, fruit of a very careful and expert analytical criterion open to very few doubts and uncertainties.

He offered me his way of seeing things, always leaving room for my creativity; his suggestions showed me a direction, a goal that my steps would later reach.

We have been master and pupil of ourselves at the same time, and in every circumstance an exchange took place between us which allowed us to learn and receive from each other. Angelo has always been endowed with enormous sensitivity; sometimes he wore a cuirass to protect his vulnerability. We had come to know our strengths and weaknesses; respecting them we took care to support each other.

Angelhe devoted great dedication and steps to his pupilsone, and one of the most relevant areas of theto her artistic lifewas his teaching activity.

I remember that in the early 70s he was busily working on the definition of the various technical problems to play the guitar at the highest level: it was a topic to which we dedicated hours and hours of dialogue, trying to dissect every detail that could help clarify the most proper wayto approach the study with an adequate method.

Angelo was always looking for a clear and defined explanation, pursued with scrupulous analytical research.

Thus it was that Angelo was able to pass on his deep awareness and his working method to his students.

For the guitar there is no real school as defined as the Russian school for the violin or the German one for the piano; the guitar belongs to a world of its own, very personal and defined by each interpreter.

 

We spent a lot of time conversing on these arguments, and I could dwell on this considerably, but such a dissertation would go beyond the task that this paper intends to honor.

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One of the things I feel proud of is having recorded a monographic CD dedicated to Angelo's compositions, and having done so while he was still alive.

 

The CD program, entitled "Gabriel Estarellas interprets Angelo Gilardno", is composed from all the compositions that Angelo has dedicated to me in various moments of our long friendship. When I informed Angelo of the project he was very happy and I asked him to compose a short piece to complete and conclude the programma to be recorded. 

It was then that Angelo composed "Yo y el Rey" which closes the list of proposed compositions in chronological cadence: “Estrellas para Estarellas” (1970), “Nirvana” (1971), Estudio n. 23 (Note Oscura) (1983), Sonata No. 2 (Hivern florit)(1986), “Tríptico de las Visiones” (2009)  and precisely  “Yo, el Rey” (2014).

I consider this CD to be one of my favorites in all my discography, and I like to think it is a time gallery that illustrates Angelo's creative and compositional evolution between 1970 and 2014.

It is my belief that every guitarist and the whole world of music in general is in "debt" to Angelo.

His musical heritage is enormous and he represents a fundamental point of reference in the historical study of the guitar, in its teaching and in the vast repertoire of which it determined the creation.

Angelo's influence has been fundamental for me, both artistically and personally, and thehis disappearance has left a void that cannot be filled.

His memory will live in me until the end of my days.

Gabriel Estarellas

(Mallorca, July 2023)

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Photo: ANDREA CHERCHI
 

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