ISSN 2605-2318


Mauricio Sotelo | Project Mauricio Sotelo. Interview with Juan Carlos Garvayo


In December of 2016, the CD "Ancora un Segreto" was presented in Madrid. A musical production of the Liszt Sonata by Alfred Brendel and the composition Ancora un Segreto by Mauricio Sotelo based on both masters, performed on the piano by Juan Carlos Garvayo and edited by the IBS Classical label. Today we wanted to get closer to the work of Mauricio Sotelo from the hand of a pianist who knows him very well: Juan Carlos Garvayo.

“When a few years ago I met Mauricio Sotelo, he was just about to familiarize himself with Liszt's Sonata. This not only led to a friendship but also induced the idea of writing a work that would relate both to the Sonata and to our encounter.

 "Sotelo's work is a confrontation, an argument dealing with the shape and the material of Liszt's Sonata that has resulted in something personal and spectacular.”

Alfred Brendel

"His music is a continuous journey to the poetic limits of our memory"

1. Ruth Prieto: When did you meet Mauricio Sotelo for the first time? How was that first encounter?

Juan Carlos Garvayo: I first met Mauricio Sotelo in 1994 in a bus ride driving from downtown Madrid to the nearby mountains of Guadarrama. We both used to live around that area.  Mauricio is an extremely nice and accessible person and I remember that we talked passionately about music for the whole trip. We have been close friends since then.
2. R.P.:
Do you remember the first time you heard music by Sotelo? Which work was it? What type of impression did it make on you?
Juan Carlos Garvayo:
Yes. It was just the day before our first meeting. The Spanish National Orchestra premiered Rose in fiamme with José Ramón Encinar conducting and Massimiliano Damerini playing the solo piano part. The music struck me really deep; it was very similar to some mysterious music that used to visit my dreams.
3. R.P.: Ancora un segreto
, issued by the label IBS Classical, is the latest piano piece by this composer performed by you. What can you tell us about this work? 

Juan Carlos Garvayo: Ancora un segreto is a very impressive work for several reasons: impeccable piano writing, ability to evoke a masterpiece such as the Liszt piano sonata and intense poetic expressiveness.  Moreover, it is a work that has allowed me to meet very closely the great Alfred Brendel, a figure I have always admired very much and to whom this work is dedicated.
4. R.P.:
This is not the first work by Sotelo that you have performed. What is his music like? How could you define his musical universe? 

Juan Carlos Garvayo: Exactly. Ancora un segreto is the third solo piano piece by Sotelo that I have premiered, besides other chamber or ensemble works that include piano. The music of Sotelo is enigmatic without being dark, it is complex without being unintelligible; it is essential, refined, originates from a powerful process of thinking, and it is, above all, deliberately expressive. His music is a continuous journey to the poetic limits of our memory.
5. R.P.:
When we talk about contemporary music, we tend to put under the same umbrella very different aesthetic concepts. What are the signs of identity of Sotelo’s music? 

Juan Carlos Garvayo: From my point of view, one of the most attractive features of contemporary music is precisely the huge array of styles and aesthetic concepts that coexist and that we can enjoy.The problem arises when certain original and powerful proposals by specific composers end up imposing themselves as official and academic trends. It is then when we start to see hordes of copycat followers deprived of any interest.I think that artistic creation should originate from serious critical thought that would examine what someone needs to say and how to say it. Unfortunately, many composers nowadays use short ways with the only intention of filling up infinite sheets of staff paper with pure nothingness. Sotelo is not like this. Sotelo is not bound by the music of others.
6. R.P.:
What is the contribution of Sotelo’s music to European contemporary music? 

Juan Carlos Garvayo: A free and personal voice deeply rooted in the learned Western music tradition and in the popular tradition of Spanish flamenco music.  What more can you ask for?
"In these times of identity loss, Sotelo’s music offers us a valid and consistent model to follow."

7. R.P.: What is important to take into consideration when you perform Sotelo’s music? 

Juan Carlos Garvayo: First of all, one must be aware of the demanding technical difficulties of Sotelo’s music. If you do not feel capable of overcoming them, simply don’t bother. In addition, Mauricio is very careful and subtle about musical notation: the preparatory study of his music has to be done carefully and with respect. On one hand, we find exactitude of rhythm and accentuation (what the flamenco musicians call “compás”, taken to its limits); on the other hand, we find a sort of restrained freedom of expression that one should administrate with precision. Lastly, the performer should also commit himself to a full emotional implication.  This music does not admit half-hearted compromises.
8. R.P.:
In what way is Sotelo contemporary?
Juan Carlos Garvayo:
In a way in which, fortunately, you can have lunch, coffee or even a gin & tonic with him chatting about whatever you wish.

9. R.P.: In the year 2006 Mauricio Sotelo composed his Klaviertrio no. 1 “Tisra” for Trío Arrbós. Has his music changed considerably since then?

Juan Carlos Garvayo: It is possible that some recent personal experiences of great importance in Mauricio’s life have led his music to greater heights of refinement and expression.
10. R.P.: Is there any Sotelo work in particular to which you feel particularly attached?
Juan Carlos Garvayo: I am in fact very attached to the three piano works that I have premiered and recorded: Jerez desde el aire, Sub Rosa and Ancora un segreto.  Another extraordinary work to which I feel very close is De oscura llama, since I was very engaged in its conception, world premiere and recording sessions.
11. R.P.: What part of tradition and of avant-garde can we find in Sotelo’s music?
Juan Carlos Garvayo: I have less and less faith in those overused and meaningless terms. In any case, the music of Sotelo might be a perfect blend of those concepts, meaning by avant-garde the novelty that implies standing apart from novelty for the sake of novelty.
12. R.P.: If you had to choose a single work by Mauricio, which one would you select?
Juan Carlos Garvayo: That is a very cruel question. I love too many of them… In any case, I would like to mention a very important work for solo piano that I have not performed yet completely: Su un oceano di scampanellii.
13. R.P.: Mauricio Sotelo likes to work closely with the performers of his works. How is that process?
Juan Carlos Garvayo: Mauricio is a composer with an enormous musical background who knows exactly what he has written and what he wants to hear (unfortunately, it is not always the case); So, the sessions with him start with a meticulous adjustment of countless details written on the score. Once this fine-tuning has been understood and internalized, Mauricio trusts competent and engaged performers and leaves them plenty of space for personal creativity.
14. R.P.: In what new project by Sotelo would you like to participate?
Juan Carlos Garvayo: I confess that I would have loved to embark on a piano concerto by Sotelo but, unfortunately, some other pianist more seasoned and with better abilities in managing the orchestral world than me has already anticipated himself. Next time, we’ll see.
15. R.P.: Lachenmann said once that Sotelo sounds like Sotelo. Now I ask you, how does Sotelo sound? How is the sound of Sotelo’s musical landscape?
Juan Carlos Garvayo: I guess that Lachenmann, so used to listening everywhere to imitators of his music, celebrates with his obvious words the unquestionable free and independent voice of Sotelo. Sotelo sounds like Sotelo and that Sotelo sounds to me like an ancient and magical voice hidden in some arcane place of the soul only manifested when the proper incantation is evoked.


More information on the website of Trío Arbós
And in the profile of the pianist in our web ECH Juan Carlos Garvayo

Ancora un Segreto is a CD with Mauricio Sotelo, Alfred Brendel and Juan Carlos Garvayo edited by the IBS Classical label. The CD includes the musical production of the Liszt Sonata by Alfred Brendel and the composition Ancora un Segreto by Mauricio Sotelo based on both masters, performed on the piano by Juan Carlos Garvayo. The CD, in the first place, is a birthday gift for the great Alfred Brendel, but it is also, without a doubt, a fantastic album for musicians, friends, fans or curious.

More information in: Ancora un Segreto

Mauricio Sotelo's photo is by Begoña Rivas

Photos of Juan Carlos Garvayo by Michal Novak and Luis Malibrán

In the following link you can see the score online:
Link to the page of iTunes in Spain:
and in USA
Link to the Ibs Classical website:


Este trabajo tiene la licencia CC BY-NC-SA 4.0