Swedish classical guitarist Nils Klöfver arrived in Bogotá this month to promote his newest album, Altgitarr, which goes from Bach to The Beatles. Over a few café con leches, he discussed the making of the album with Marian Romero
The latest album from this unique Swedish guitarist was borne out of a dialogue between art and music. It incorporates the drawings of artist Jenny Svenberg Bunnel, who developed her art as she was listening to Nils Klöfver play the prelude of Bach’s lute suite in E major.
Everything started back in London, where Klöfver has been living for the past ten years. He explains: “In honour of the 50th anniversary of the alto guitar, and with a feeling of letting loose my curiosity for visual arts, I decided to make a video to accompany Bach’s suite. I invited my friend Jenny to join the project, and she made a series of drawings and portraits as I was performing”.
The video, made in April 2015 by Colombian movie maker Juancho Martinez, turned out to be a very enriching experience for both artists. The work his compatriot Jenny created and the visceral nature of Bach’s pieces inspired them to take the journey a bit further and create an album, played entirely on the alto guitar, that would recreate the atmosphere of that day and stand alone as a piece of fine art.
The pieces chosen by Klöfver are predominantly, but not exclusively, Bach works from the baroque period. Klöfver chose the alto guitar, an extended-range classical guitar developed by Swedish luthier Georg Bolin in the 1960s, because its eleven strings allows him to play the intricate string solos that Bach’s pieces require.
The second part of the record is slightly more contemporary, with a version of ‘Greensleeves’ and ‘Fool on the hill’ by The Beatles.
The incorporation of Bunnel’s drawings is an attempt by the pair to appeal to more people. As Klöfver explains, “Classical music is certainly something that needs to be appreciated by a wider audience. We think the best way to do that is by playing with it and combining it with other artistic expressions”.
Algitarr comes in three individually numbered covers, in strictly limited editions of 80 per album. All covers have the title hand painted by Svenberg, making the album a unique piece of art that can be hung on the wall or played on a turntable.
It’s a great collector’s item, one for music aficionados, but it is also available digitally as a stream on various platforms.
The album was launched last November in London and was made available to the Colombian public on January 13, as part of Klöfver’s concert at the Museo Nacional.
Graduating with honours from the Royal College of Music in 2006, Klöfver is active as a concert soloist in London. Yet in Bogotá he has experienced a very different culture that he is keen to explore and a wide variety of musical styles that include a heavy use of string instruments.
“I have found London an excellent place to develop my art but in a city like Bogotá music is very refreshing. I have been here more than once and every time I fall in love with the atmosphere and with the people. Colombia has such a strong relationship with string-based music, and I think it really encourages further musical exploration in terms of new rhythms and is a great place of exchange for musicians and artists”.
Klöfver certainly has an affinity for Bogotá and will no doubt be returning soon. Until then, he will continue to experiment with his art and create new and unique sounds and artistic expressions.
Algitarr is available on iTunes and Spotify. Visit nilsklofver.com for more information.