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Sergio Monteiro — “Vierne: Complete Piano Works Vol. 1” (Naxos, 2021)


Sergio Monteiro talks about his albums on Naxos, particularly his latest release — the first volume of Vierne’s piano works. Listen to it here!

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ISSN: 2792-8349

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International Journal of Music

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Tell us about your experience with recording. How do you prepare for a recording session as opposed to a live performance?

I became associated with Naxos in 2015, and since then, I have recorded six albums. I’ve done about one per year for the last five years. My first CD was the piano music of Henrique Oswald, a romantic Brazilian composer that I enjoy tremendously. Brazilian romantic music is not often performed even though he wrote some great works. Henrique Oswald wrote some of the best classical piano music written in Brazil before Villa-Lobos, and that’s why I wanted to get his works recorded. It surprised me how popular the CD was on streaming services; some tracks have been streamed over 2 million times on Spotify! Since then, they have proposed album ideas to me. They asked if I would do a Scarlatti album or a Liszt album. They send me what pieces they want, and we have a discussion. The Scarlatti album has sonatas on it that I probably wouldn’t have picked, but since they are committed to record all of his sonatas, I went along with it. It’s terrific because Scarlatti is such a great composer that even his lesser-known pieces are a joy to perform.

The last CD that I recorded is the music of French composer Louis Vierne who is famous for his organ music. I didn’t know much about his works until this project. They proposed the project, I started listening, and now I have fallen in love with his music! I will record his complete works for piano in a two-CD set. The first CD will be out on October 22nd, and the second CD will be recorded this upcoming summer. Very exciting.

Recording and performing live are two very different things. When I perform live, I leave more room for the element of chance. You need to take risks, to be open to the circumstances of the moment. One should never play a piece the same way but always experiment, depending on the hall, the acoustics, and the audience. If I feel like a passage needs to be played in a certain way, even if I have practised differently, I will give room for that. When recording, you need to pin things down a little more. We are always playing at the moment to some degree, but when recording, you have to make choices that will lend themselves to more stability or permanence — a better sense of the structure of the piece. Only the sound will stay; your charisma, the hall, the lights, the magical elements of a live performance, none of that will be there.

At the very end of a recording session, there is a moment where you feel empty. That is the crucial moment of finishing and letting go of what you have done. I believe all artists feel like this to some degree. Once it’s out there, it’s no longer yours, and you feel very lonely. And I never listen to my recordings again. And then comes the next project, and you feel alive again. And that is how life goes on.

Link: Profile on Oklahoma City University website

Full Interview: “Teaching Has Become Such a Big Part of My Life. You Learn So Much Interacting With New Students”

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