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Thread: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    The best opportunities I know of are Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, early in the second act, easy and almost entirely solo, accompanying the lead baritone---Mahler 7th Symphony, 2nd. movt., easy folk-like theme in quiet music---Mahler 8th---and Schoenberg's "Moses und Aaron" and the Five Pieces for Orchestra. Both the last two are pretty hard. Webern has a small part in his Five Pieces, mainly atmospheric tremolo.

    Major showpiece is in Verdi's "Otello", the children's chorus scene. It's a hard part, constant arpeggiating flat-picking in B major. (I tune up a half step to play in B flat.)

    Vivaldi wrote a few concertos, of which I've only done one movement of the C major.

    Might be useful to get to know your local orchestra's personnel manager, to have an opportunity to play with a really big band.

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    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    There's a nice solo bit in Respighi's Feste Romane.

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    Registered User Margriet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    about the mandolin in opera's there is a thread:
    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...ighlight=opera

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    I'll push for Feste to be programmed in my orchestra, Muti is taking over.

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    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    There's a scene in Prokofiev's ballet Romeo and Juliet that uses two mandolins, I recall.

    My orchestral experiences have been relatively opera-heavy, and while every production of Don Giovanni I've been in has insisted upon a mandolin for "Deh vieni..." (I even played it once), I never even knew about there being one in Otello, despite having done more productions of O. than Don G, until first reading about it here.

    Strange, especially if it's such a "major showpiece" moment - I have yet to hear that mandolin part! Are there any recordings online?

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    I think the Met used to use a harp. I have extracted the version we did with Solti, although it's a bit hard to hear. I found a youtube version by searching for "children's chorus Otello". If there is an upload section here I can send in the CSO clip.

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    Uploaded to my website: www.twtunes.com/pages/Otello.mp3
    It's a couple of megs, not streaming. Mando in left channel, with guitar, accompanying chorus.

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    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    Nice, Tom. Yes, it does sound like a handful. Are you the mandolinist on Abbado's Mahler 7 with the CSO? Very low in the mix, but nice playing.

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    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    Okay, what is the matter with my computer that I can only get a 5 second clip?

    (At first I couldn't even get anything, for want of Quicktime, the latest version of which I just downloaded and installed.)

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    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    Don't know, Bratsche. For me clicking on Tom's link takes me to Quicktime and the clip streams for several minutes. My QT is not a recent version. Good luck.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    I had the same problem just now on my Mac in Firefox but when I switched to Safari or downloaded the mp3 to my desktop it was fine.
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    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    Firefox was the culprit on my PC as well, Jim, so I listened to it on IE (but when I treid to save it in either one, I was told I had to buy Quicktime 'Pro' in order to have that feature. Hmph!)

    Tom, very nice job! Yes, that excerpt certainly sounded very familiar, as we did Otello less than half a year ago. I'm not sure what instrument covered the mando line, however. My guess would be the harp.

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    Annoying about Firefox, mine also has trouble with large clips. IE does OK.

    Don't remember about Abbado, probably my predecessor. With Boulez' Mahler we got a nice comment from a New York reviewer, who credited Boulez for putting mando and guitar close to front of stage, like that would help the audience 100 feet away! In fact, I beat the #### out of the mando, and coached the guitar, our librarian, to be more Pete Townsend than Segovia. Apparently it worked.

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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    Purists will probably lynch me for saying this, but I'd ~humbly~ recommend some modest, artistic, discrete amplification on such occasions. I have certainly enjoyed it in the performance of my own works, when there was a justifiable need (e.g. a large hall). Some may clamor angrily that, "That's NOT what the composer intended!"— and that has some truth to it, of course. Still, I cannot imagine that ANY composer would write something in a score, and not intend it to be heard. That would be a nonsensical contradiction of intentions. My $0.02 worth...

    Cheers,

    Victor
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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    I have one of those cheap Fender acoustic-electrics, has what is apparently a Telecaster pickup. Into a Gallien-Kreuger 200MV (Paul Glasse used one) it is very sweet and acoustic sounding. I used it for Moses und Aaron, Boulez. I also amplified for Corigliano's symphony. The orchestra owns a mandolin, made for it in Chicago. It's a round-hole, slight bevel in top, very slight arch in back. A little oversize, normal scale, wide nut. Loud and harsh, I use Thomastik flatwounds to tame the rattling low strings. Tends toward too bright at top, I had to learn how to make a sweet tone. Good training, felt like fretting a piano in early days.

    I watched a DVD of Berlin, under Haitink, doing Mahler 7. Camera looking straight at guitar, who was inaudible even with no one else playing. He was playing Segovia style, all gentle fingernails. Mando was a bowl back, slightly audible, but with no style.

    BTW, I'll now use newspaper-safe vocabular; even my four-letter named after Thomas Crapper was ##'d.

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    Registered User Margriet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post


    BTW, I'll now use newspaper-safe vocabular; even my four-letter named after Thomas Crapper was ##'d.
    As often on cafe I have to unhook, simply because of not being American and not speaking the language enough to follow the discussion.
    Pity..................

    Margriet

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    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    Agreed, Victor. I once played the Respighi part through a Fender Twin Reverb amp-- provided for me by the orchestra! It was not discreet. Usually nowadays I get a good mic. At that point everything depends on the person in the sound booth; I had a mic for the banjo part on Rhapsody in Blue last season, and can only hope that good sense prevailed and the sound man left it off.

    Placing the players of quiet instruments in full view forces the audience to be aware of them, and this helps focus their listening, I think.

    Tom, it sounds like you've tried a range of options. The orchestra trusts you to come up with your own solution, as mine has too. That's good.

    For the guitar part in Mahler 7, I can't see how anyone could make it heard without a mic.

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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Clausen View Post

    For the guitar part in Mahler 7, I can't see how anyone could make it heard without a mic.
    Reviewer liked it, and Boulez even asked Peter to back off in one spot. He uses thumb, like a pick, leaning in hard for chords. Orchestration is very light where guitar needs to be heard, and it's more a matter of making it not a strain to hear.

    We used house mikes for Otello at our outdoor venue, under James Conlon. But the Solti clip is live off our stage in Chicago, no house mikes. We'll be fielding four players for Muti, and I snared snared Don Stiernberg as one of the other players. Should be fun.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    The orchestra owns a mandolin, made for it in Chicago. It's a round-hole, slight bevel in top, very slight arch in back. A little oversize, normal scale, wide nut. Loud and harsh, I use Thomastik flatwounds to tame the rattling low strings. Tends toward too bright at top, I had to learn how to make a sweet tone. Good training, felt like fretting a piano in early days.
    Just curious about what that instrument was. Sounds like a Lyon & Healy flatback or possibly a Larson made one. I wonder why it was such a beast -- maybe it needed some set up? Doesn't sound ideal for your purposes.
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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    Think it was made in the Kagan and Gaines shop.

    I'm a viola player, not really fully in shape for mando fingering. But when I have been shedding it's rather easier. You'd probably find it no big deal to play, but I do find the sound harsh, at least compared to high-end axes. I remember how the Martins sound, gentle and sweet, and I love by brother-in-law's Vega cylinder. Amazingly, for an uncompensated bridge, the orchestra axe plays very well in tune.

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    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    Quote Originally Posted by vkioulaphides View Post
    Purists will probably lynch me for saying this, but I'd ~humbly~ recommend some modest, artistic, discrete amplification on such occasions. I have certainly enjoyed it in the performance of my own works, when there was a justifiable need (e.g. a large hall). Some may clamor angrily that, "That's NOT what the composer intended!" and that has some truth to it, of course. Still, I cannot imagine that ANY composer would write something in a score, and not intend it to be heard. That would be a nonsensical contradiction of intentions. My $0.02 worth...
    Amen, Victor! Major pet peeve here. When I did the mando bit with Giovanni, I had to pick it up and play from our viola section, which is seated outside the cellos (and right next to the pit wall). Julius Rudel was guest-conducting, and everything was fine until the dress rehearsals in the hall, when I suddenly wasn't loud enough. I begged him to get me some subtle amplification, but nooooo, his more "purist" (I guess) solution was to have me whomp the living tar out of my poor li'l instrument as hard as I could, and then some more for good measure. The tempo was also very brisk. I hadn't been playing mandolin for very long, so dropping of some notes and general sloppiness were inevitable. I wasn't a happy camper.

    When we did Don G. again just recently, our regular conductor was on the podium, the singer sang it more slowly, and they hired a cellist who owns a mandolin (not a member of our orchestra, so it was just a "walk in and out and go home" number for him). They set him up on a prominent, high-positioned stand facing out toward the house for better projection. He had a mic by his instrument, but I don't know if it was amplification, or just for the stage monitors. In any case, it made a whole lot more sense than what I experienced!

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    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    "They hired a cellist who owns a mandolin."
    I love that phrase, it speaks volumes.

    "It was just a 'walk in and out and go home' number for him."
    I've sure been there. On a run of Don Giovanni, I used to leave the house as the orchestra was playing the Overture, and I could be home in bed by the final curtain. And you're paid as Principal Mandolinist! A similar situation was Webern's Five Pieces, which opened a couple of concerts. You're in the theatre by 8:00, but out of your tails and on the street by 8:20. (Great music though, and I don't really MIND playing the whole gig if necessary.)

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    If only there was enough rep for an actual, rostered, mandolin chair (my dream).

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    Forgot to add this odd addition---the Yellow Shark Zappa stuff. Uncle Meat and Dog Breath get reworked and there is a mando part, also in G-Spot Tornado. An outfit called Fulcrum Point did those here a few years ago.

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    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin in major orchestra repertoire

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Clausen View Post
    "They hired a cellist who owns a mandolin."
    I love that phrase, it speaks volumes.

    "It was just a 'walk in and out and go home' number for him."
    I've sure been there. On a run of Don Giovanni, I used to leave the house as the orchestra was playing the Overture, and I could be home in bed by the final curtain. And you're paid as Principal Mandolinist! A similar situation was Webern's Five Pieces, which opened a couple of concerts. You're in the theatre by 8:00, but out of your tails and on the street by 8:20. (Great music though, and I don't really MIND playing the whole gig if necessary.)
    I'm sure the cellist got paid much more than I did, since he had to show up for his gig and I was "already there anyway" for mine. (Don't... want.... to... think... about... that....)

    Didn't mean to knock him - he played the part very well. I asked him if he'd be interested in reading any mandolin/mandola duets for fun. He said he didn't read treble clef well enough (and had transposed his mandolin part into bass clef). I asked if he'd ever considered getting a mandocello. His reponse indicated he'd never heard of one and didn't want to know. Oh well, he wasn't the kindred spirit I'd hoped to make the acquaintance of.

    bratsche
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