The piano artist and teacher Inês Laginha is the name ahead of the artistic direction of Bernardo Sassetti House since July 2018. Graduated from the Lisbon Higher School of Music, where she also completed her master's degree in Music Pedagogy, Inês divides her professional time between private piano lessons and her position at Casa Bernardo Sassetti. "Were it not for the fact that I need to work for a living, I could do this without receiving it because it gives me great pleasure to contribute to this project, it is all very close. It is a job that I genuinely like to do," she says throughout this interview. Together with his father, Mário Laginha, Nelson Carvalho and Daniel Bernardes, Inês Laginha came to the unpublished themes that make up the recently released posthumous solo album Solo (the prodigy pianist passed away in May 2012 at the age of 41). This album consists of themes recorded in three days in the Azores, in 2005, at Teatro Micaelense. Alongside this, next Saturday, September 28, Bruno Pernadas Ensemble reinterprets the music of Bernardo Sassetti, in a concert to be held at the CCB Small Auditorium at 9 pm.
Ines, can you tell a little about your career? Can it be said that music has always been a little bit at home?
My mother is a classical piano teacher, and my father is a jazz pianist and I grew up between the two songs, studied both, and taught both of them as well. I used to say that one of Roberto Leal's hurts is that people said that in Brazil it was Portuguese, and in Portugal it was Brazilian and I feel a little bit about jazz and classic, I feel that within the middle of jazz I am that who plays classical, and that in the middle of classical I'm the one who plays jazz. I don't feel alien to either, I feel like I belong to both of them.
What are the first musical memories?
Since I grew up in a family where everyone plays … it's very difficult. I can say that I grew up listening to my father studying in the living room and it was my mother who gave me the first contacts with the piano because she was a teacher. I always had that curiosity too. I remember my mom singing songs for me more than telling me stories. That is, I grew up being rocked with my mom singing things and playing the guitar.
She is currently a piano teacher. What is the most challenging aspect of this experience?
It is variable how determined students come to want a complete thing. And I generally prefer that it is up to me to decide which path is appropriate for the student. As I grew up between the two and feel the benefits of both approaches, I end up doing a little of both. Even playing jazz I do it in a more classical way, to give them the other side. And so do those who play classical music, even the smallest improvisation work from the beginning applied to the kind of music they know. I just do a little of both, and it helps my students gain a taste for music more broadly.
How did the invitation to be artistic director of Casa Bernardo Sassetti come about?
Since the house was created, I volunteered to help inventorise, because I knew music, and because I knew there were a lot of Bernardo sheet music, and I knew people like Beatriz who had access to the sheets themselves. It can be said that from the beginning I am an associate of Casa Bernardo Sassetti. In 2016 or 2017 the position began to be discussed, and I was asked if I could take the cause a little more actively. As the house is still a very small structure, I am the only person hired in the house, and besides the most relevant artistic decisions I do other things.
Solo is Bernardo Sassetti's first posthumous album, which includes recordings made by the Portuguese pianist in 2005 and never made available to the public. Can you tell a little of the story behind this album?
At the time, it was widely spoken among the pianist community that the piano at the Teatro Micaelense in the Azores was very special, with very easy mechanics and a very beautiful sound. Everyone who was going to play, get out of there saying that the piano was amazing. It is a question with which I identify. Sometimes we're lucky, sometimes unlucky, that was lucky to catch up. When he got to Bernardo, he found a few days he had free and contacted a sound technician and a piano tuner, asked the theater director and went there for a few days. I didn't have a definite project, it was playing music I was exploring at the time. Each theme that Bernardo did, made more than one take. And chose one of each. That is, when it all came to me I only had one take of each song, I had about 90 minutes of music. An album has, in theory, about half. I spoke to Nelson Carvalho, the sound technician who accompanied Bernardo at the time, I spoke to Mário Laginha and Daniel Bernardes, who was working with me at the time because he was going to write the transcripts of the second sheet music book we edited (we are edit one per year). There were longer themes, and then there were songs – short themes – and we all agreed that on an opening album like this one would be more interesting (privileging) the songs.
From a personal point of view, what does this album reveal about Bernardo Sassetti himself?
What I feel is that the music is absolutely at the level of Bernardo's best moments. It's an opportunity to hear Bernardo in a little-heard record, which is solo. There is an album, which is Indigo (2004), solo, and that's it. It's a window to understand what Bernardo would be playing at home. For all intents and purposes there is thus a window to see a Bernardo without the pressure of a project or a concrete concert. It's revealing of the stage he was in 2005. As a pianist, if it had nothing to do with the process, it would surely be an album that I'd obsessively listen to for a few weeks.
And there is also an annual initiative of Casa Bernardo Sassetti to invite a national musician. Why Bruno Pernadas for this year's concert on September 28th?
Last year was Ricardo Toscano's quartet, it was interesting because it was a new generation, because it was a different language in jazz, and because it would be interesting to see what Ricardo Toscano's quartet would do to Bernardo's music, and at the same time what Bernardo's music would do to the quartet. This year I have the same feeling but Bruno Pernadas is a very different musician from all, has a very particular language being a deep connoisseur of jazz and Bernardo, is an obsessive worker. He started working on the arrangements in January, and I know he has no piano. You are taking a pianist's music and taking on the transformation. I love the idea of understanding how music will continue to earn a life of its own. It will have harp, vibraphone, guitar – which are three harmonic instruments – double bass and drums, string quartet and a wind instrumentalist who plays saxophone, clarinet and flute. And it will make different combinations of these different experiments. It will be a very interesting concert, I am restraining myself from going to rehearsals.
What projects are coming soon in the alignment of Casa Bernardo Sassetti?
In the short term is included another edition of a record, which will be the Girl of the Sea, we wanted to try to do in 2019 because it is the centenary year of the birth of Sophia de Mello Breyner. It's a recording of a show that Bernardo did with Beatriz Batarda, where she narrated the book and he played and we are trying to figure out if we can still edit this year. We also have a photography exhibition that will be in the Azores between November and December at Teatro Micaelense. For 2020 and 2021, we would like to release Bernardo Sassetti's fourth and final score book, which will be released next year, which curiously marks the 50th anniversary of Bernardo's birth. It will be released in Belgais, a place where Bernardo recorded two of the most important albums, Nocturno (2002) and Indigo. There is an urgency to make the entire estate available, but we would like the House to become a house like Fernando Pessoa or José Saramago Foundation, acting on behalf of the values that Bernardo defended, that is to contribute to the teaching of jazz and for the jazz and classical music community in Lisbon and Portugal.
(tagsToTranslate) Inês Laginha (t) Music (t) Posthumous Disc (t) Casa Bernardo Sassetti (t) Lisbon Superior School of Music (t) Nelson Carvalho (t) Mário Laginha (t) Daniel Bernardes (t) Small Auditorium (t) Solo (t) Portugal (t) Bernardo Sassetti (t) Azores (t) Micaelense Theater (t) Bruno Pernadas Ensemble (t) Beatriz Batarda (t) CCB (t) Ricardo Toscano