Danijel Cerović: I Have Been Lucky and Privileged in My Career

By , 12 Aug 2019, 15:25 PM Meet the People
Danijel Cerović: I Have Been Lucky and Privileged in My Career Danijel Cerović, photo by Marijana; inside copyright Danijel Cerović

Danijel Cerović, one of the leading Montenegrin performers in the domain of classical music, a touring musician and pedagogue, signed a contract recently with the prestigious publishing house Les Productions D'OZ of Canada, which will soon issue two books of his transcription of music by Silvius Leopold Weiss (London the manuscript). The release will contain a CD program for Naxos Music Group which he has recently recorded. Danijel started performing his “Only Weiss” programme this spring in Tivat. It marked the Early Music Day (March 21) on the small scene of the Culture Centre Tivat and he continued playing this programme in Trebinje, Bosnia, Cetinje and Sudbury, Canada. His project is dedicated to the composer and lutenist of the late Baroque, Sylvius Leopold Weiss.  

Danijel Cerović speaks for TMN about his musical voyage and career.  

- Four years ago, you held a concert "Only Bach" in the Summerhouse Buća in Tivat with Goran Krivokapić, also in honour of the Early Music Day. This spring you performed in DTV Partizan, turning your attention to Weiss. How do you find this new, small scene of the Culture Centre?

"Thank you for linking these two concerts. I just remembered about that concert, which was in 2015, time passes so quickly. As a result of circumstances, I played for the same anniversary then, and the “Only Weiss” programme is the backbone of my new project, that is, I had to record music and perform this programme. It was a great pleasure for me to share it with dear people and the audience in Tivat in the new hall, which is very comfortable. I was very comfortable and I hope that the audience felt the same. I know it's difficult to gather people out of season, especially when talking about classical audience and classical guitar, so I'm glad it worked out well."

- What about the program itself? Sylvius Leopold Weiss was a great lutenist, who lived at the end of 17th century, until the mid-eighteenth. You have transcribed his music for guitar and what else would you say about your interest in his music?

"He was a contemporary of Bach and there are indications that they were socializing, and perhaps they also had some joint projects, which is very interesting. It is a rich opus, from which only a few works are played. I'm glad that I have and that I had the opportunity to deal with his opus, researching and trying to transcribe it for classical guitar. This is the music of uncovered beauty, richness and harmony for me, of counterpoint and various kinds of atmospheres. It's probably more receptive than Bach's, or Telemann's music, and at times intimate, as well as rich in different characters, all of which are features of this baroque style, ornaments and various procedures." 

- You have recorded 2 CDs with 6 transcribed Bach's English Suites for Naxos before and you have also recorded Weiss's compositions for Naxos now. Your concert in Tivat was actually the first among your performances dedicated to just Waiss’s music?

"That was the beginning. Such concerts are, of course, a holiday for me, and I'm using them to have a better look at that music outside of my exercise area, where I keep repeating some details, trying to get to some perfection. Concerts are a real challenge for me each time, as it was also in Tivat and I'm glad to get some feedback from the audience and after all from that sound, which I make out of myself, I can listen to it in some space, which is brand new and challenging, like that one. I'm glad that the theme of this project is what it is and that I continue to explore this music, which takes a special place in my art, not to say in my biography, for the sake of not being too formal, but it makes the backbone of my music, especially in the last few years. I am very glad that I have continued in a similar direction after Bach. It's like when you discover Rembrandt, and since he has an incredible opus, you begin to discover his contemporaries, who may not be so familiar and you discover new microcosmos that you enjoy equally. In this case, Weiss was a part of that great Dresden art scene. There is a pleiad of great composers - for that era, who are out of the mainstream and those historical textbooks we deal with today, they are not on the playlists of radio stations playing classical music, yet their music is really fantastic. In the bombing of Dresden in the Second World War, together with the Dresden Library, a bunch of papers and proofs of their creation, as well as the notes themselves, went unchallenged. All in all, I'm glad that we can still find this art, which is really worth it." 

- You have an extraordinary international career, which has stretched over three continents - Europe, America and Asia. You perform as a solo musician, as well as Danijel Cerović and Goran Krivokapić make Montenegrin Guitar Duo, you also collaborate with the chamber and other ensembles…What would you say about your career? You are also a lecturer, jury member, even a founder of festivals?dc

"I had been lucky and privileged that my career has been developing in this particular direction in recent years, not only planned, but also unplanned, where this Weiss story also belongs. So with music, before any business and formal career and success, which is measurable, both with money and social networks, there should be some kind of relationship between the artist and what he is dealing with. A deeper connection should exist for something to happen necessarily and to succeed. I am pleased because I have had and I still have the opportunity to constantly keep in touch with top music, which I am trying to transfer to my instrument and to what I am skilled for. That's why I am also particularly pleased that in the last few years I have exclusively performed my own arrangements of that music, which has not been written in the original for guitar. Even the lute, which is the precursor to this instrument and which should have some touchpoints, believe me, that this is not the case. Then it takes a lot of work to make that music sound on that instrument as it should. So I get to know the possibilities of the instrument and I can look at this performance issue in a non-traditional way. For me, it is the process which I enjoy, which I look forward to day by day."

- An important part of your work is dedicated to students, young generations. You are one of the founders of Montenegro International Guitar Competition, what would you say about it? 

"I am incidentally one of the organizers and founders of this event and I am glad that Tivat has recognized the value of the project and that it has given its support. I mean, above all, the people in the Culture Centre, who are unselfishly in this and in many other projects. The lucky circumstance is that Tivat has become one centre, which has the means, enough financial and sufficient conditions, spatial and organizational, and that people who live in Tivat and who are only visitors have the opportunity to see some of the best productions, especially in theatre, which, I suppose, is the main cultural offer in Tivat, because it is recognized for it. Of course, there are others, including the Guitar Festival, which is a part of EuroStrings. I am always happy when I can be in Tivat, because I have in mind that this is a wonderful place with wonderful people, where things work like anything that goes beyond the borders of Montenegro, in more developed areas. Tivat has its cover face in the form of art projects and I am happy about it!"

The Montenegro International Guitar Contest 2019 was especially successful, bringing great guitar names such as Aniello Desiderio, Juan Canizares. Was it difficult to organize all and what are the plans for next year?

"It was a great pleasure to organize this event in Tivat. We agreed with Culture Centre Tivat and Music Centre of Montenegro to participate in this great collaboration between festivals all around Europe – Eurostrings (European Guitar Festival Collaborative)... There are more than 17 festivals that are collaborating, exchanging artists and the prize winners of the competitions. Besides the great responsibility and challenge that we experienced organizing the event, it is a great pleasure to do it and it means a lot to me personally and to our organization. I am not in a position to discuss programmes for next year, but I can assure you that it is going to be yet another great event that will include classical guitar world masters, as well as the young upcoming musicians from all around the world, that are the winners of the festivals that we are collaborating with."

Danijel Cerovic is continuing his musical voyage with his one and only guitar. The next stop will be in Berlin on September 13th, 20.00hrs, where he will perform together with Goran Krivokapic (Montenegrin Guitar Duo) at Michael Batell's guitars gallery. This December in Miami, Danijel Cerović and Goran Krivokapić will record a CD with Astor Piazzcolla’s music, with the producer Norbert Kraft, marking 100 years of Piazzolla’s birth, which will be celebrated next year.

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