• New Music - Sauli: Six Partitas for Solo Mandolin, by Davide Rebuffa

    Sauli: Six Partitas for Solo Mandolin, by Davide RebuffaBologna, Italy — Tactus, the Italian Classical Music label, has announced an October 5 release of Sauli: Six Partitas for Solo Mandolin, by Davide Rebuffa.

    Little is known about the life of Sauli, of Florentine origin, but it is known he was hired in Vienna at the Hapsburg court in the early eighteenth century.

    Sauli probably composed this music that, as compared to the seventeenth-century manuscripts (whose content consists of simple dances, not yet in extended musical forms such as Suites or Sonatas), mark an important change in the nature of the mandolin repertoire of the Baroque period.

    On the recording Rebuffa plays two original eighteenth century instruments.

    About the project Rebuffa told us, "This recording is dedicated to the memory of James Tyler (1940-2010), whose work, as a musician and as a researcher was for me of great inspiration and is still a fundamental and invaluable contribution for anyone who approaches historical mandolins."

    About Davide Rebuffa

    Davide Rebuffa developed his first passionate interest in music through the electric guitar; he graduated in classical guitar at the Conservatorio of Genoa after having studied with Dora Filippone and Paolo Paolini. During his guitar studies he soon became interested in the lute and baroque guitar repertoire. He taught himself the lute following historical treatises and eventually devoted himself to the research and performance of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music on period instruments. In the following years he further developed his technique and performing practice with the lute, theorbo, vihuela and early guitars, under the guidance of Hopkinson Smith. Since the early 80s he was one of the first Italian lute players exploring and performing the Medieval repertoire with Medieval lutes; early Arabic-Andalusian music of the Maghreb with ‘űd; early mandolins and calichon/mandora using the historical performing techniques described in original sources. He has performed as soloist as well as an ensemble musician and continuo player with some of today’s most respected conductors and ensembles, being invited to give recitals at many well-known International Festivals in Europe, North Africa and Asia.

    Track Listing

    Partita I

    • Allemanda
    • Corrente
    • Sarabanda
    • Bourrée
    • Giga
    • Minuetto

    Partita II

    • Preludio, Allemanda
    • Sarabanda
    • Corrente
    • Giga
    • Gavotta
    • Minuetto

    Partita III

    • Preludio, Allemanda
    • Corrente
    • Aria (Adagio)
    • Giga
    • Minuetto

    Partita IV

    • Preludio (Arpeggio), Allemanda
    • Corrente
    • Sarabanda
    • Giga

    Partita V per G sol re ut

    • Ouverture
    • Allemanda
    • Corrente
    • Sarabanda
    • Giga

    Partita VI

    • Fuga, Allemanda
    • Corrente
    • Aria (Adagio)
    • Giga

    Partita V per G sol re ut [versione per mandolino e basso continuo]

    • Ouverture
    • Allemanda
    • Corrente
    • Sarabanda
    • Giga

    "Sauli was a theorbist (a plucked string instrument of the lute family, with an extended neck and a second pegbox) in the first decade of the 18th century at the Hapsburg court in Vienna. The six MS partitas were written in French tablature, but the edition is on a single treble clef in two voices. The length varies from three to five dances. It is likely that bass lines were available: no. 5 is printed thus as an appendix." Source: from the printed transcriptions of Sauli by Davide Rebuffa.

    Instruments used for this recording

    The choice of using rare original mandolinos for this recording is due to the fact that historical instruments have a striking tone and "speaking power," which is of great inspiration to the performer. Indeed they suggest technical and interpretative ideas in a much more profound way than when playing a modern copy, especially when strung with gut strings, which add another dimension to the warmth of the message.

    Among the very few surviving four-course mandolinos, the two specimens used for this recording, which are part of an important Italian private collection, are today the only ones in the world in playable conditions.

    The mandolino used for Sauli's solo mandolino Partitas V and VI has no label or brand marking. It shows some construction features that can be traced back to specimens built in Perugia and Rome in the late 17th and early 18th century, and it is very similar to an unsigned mandolino preserved at the Musée de la Musique in Paris (Inv. E 2074). The bowl is made of 15 rosewood fluted ribs; the fingerboard is engraved with a sort of ivory parallelograms with rounded corners; the neck and the rear side of the pegbox are veneered with checkered ivory and ebony mosaic. The string length measures 340 mm.


    To prevent deterioration, the four-course mandolino used for Partita I, II, III, IV and Partita V with basso continuo was prudently tuned at a lower pitch, therefore transposing the Partitas to a different key. This rare specimen is dated 1727; it was built in Florence by Stefano Franchi who worked during the second half of the 17th century and first decades of the 18th century. The bowl of this mandolino is made of 15 yew ribs; there are eight gut-frets on the fingerboard and the string length is rather long (349 mm) if compared to instruments built in North Italy. This is due to the use of a lower pitch (around 386-392 Hz), which was still in use in Central and Southern Italy, for a good part of the eighteenth century. The instrument is branded with the initials S. F. on the soundboard, counter cap and, curiously enough, also internally on the soundboard bars. As also shown in some iconographical sources, these specimens attests that four-course mandolinos were still built many years after the introduction of five and six-course instruments.

    The measures of four and five-course mandolinos vary between 111 and 137 mm in width, 490 and 540 mm as overall length, and the bowl depth is between 63 and 85 mm. The dimensions and width of the neck at the nut were maintained substantially identical in both types of instruments, obviously with different string spacing at the bridge and nut. In this regard, the considerable distance between the different courses of strings (10 mm) in the 4-course mandolino is to be considered as further evidence of the use of the fingers of the right hand and not the plectrum. The only substantial but inexplicable difference between the two instruments, is that the four-course mandolino had a single top string, while the five-course always had all double courses, although, from recent studies, it appears that in Antonio Stradivari's workshop they were also built with a single top string.

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