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Thread: Historical mandolins and cultural preferences

  1. #26
    Registered User Alex Timmerman's Avatar
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    Hello Eugene,


    Paganini´s Genoese mandolin unfortunately got lost during the bombardements of Cologne in World War II.

    Greetings,

    Alex




  2. #27
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    Let's not forget that Hummel also specifies violin. Look at the notes, look at the expression and try to convince me that certain passages are better served by a single and phenomenly nutured pluck. I experimented a great deal with this music (and the Beethoven pieces) and just felt that refraining from the use of the tremolo was handicapping a great deal of what I understand of this music. Despite the printed words by certain French mandolinists of the previous generations (Corrette was a dissenter and encouraged the tremolo whenever possible) and the fact that single strung instrument sound less well with the tremolo, it is still possible that the Cremonese virtuoso might have employed it (take stock of the domra players, playing on a modern day Cremonese mandolin). It certainly isn't the business of gut versus metal strings since I find no problems going from one course to the other on the early Neapolitan mandolin (top course is plain gut, A strings are plain brass, D's are a curious twisted brass, G's are either two violin covered G strings or one with an octave brass string). My friend and colleague, Ugo Orlandi, who has made a wonderful recording of these works uses all steel stringing, with the understanding that this was possible at the time. I've tried steel e's but found it hopeless for tuning purposes with the simple peg tuners (already a difficult procedure with the A and D strings). So, is there a truth, does it even matter? I do believe that the Hummel sonata is infinetly better served by period instruments, the modern piano sounds much too dense and overbearing in the intricate writing that Hummel gives us. The early mandolin projects quite well and can hold it's own easily with the fortepiano (we had reverse balance problems during the recording and finally removed the microphones directed at the mandolin) while I cannot say the same with the modern mandolin and a concert grand piano. I haven't heard any of the other recordings (outside of Ugo's) so I can't comment on them but I will try to get a copy.

    I agree with Eugene on the over-extension of Bone's book. The Paganini mandolin was definitely a Genovese and strung accordingly. You only have to look 2 seconds at his odd pieces he wrote for the mandolin to see that they cry out for an E tuning. That someone many generations hence took it upon themselves to transform the mandolin into a 'mandolin' of a later day is not surprising. The same goes for the Beethoven instrument (if someone could prove that). Beethoven's interest and involvement with this instrument was very short and seemed to be directed to a specific goal (not achieved). Anyone else out there have any ideas on this subject? I would love to have a month to comb through the archives and libraries of Prague to see if one might be able to locate the 5th piece supposedly completed by LVB. Getting back to Bone, I do find reading this book interesting and I have started through it again taking notes of all of the pieces that he attributes to various composers of the past that seem to have disappeared. For example, he states that Ranieri had written an orchestra accompaniment to his concerto in D. This piece is not all that old (not quite 100), his relatives are still around but no one knows where the score is. Ah, so much to explore.

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    Alex,

    Where do you get the idea that it was a Cremonese mandolin? Was not his father his mandolin tutor and direct contemporary of Nonemacher? The image I saw of this mandolin (in one of the Paganini biographies) was very, very similar to Nonemacher's work. The pieces themselves are writen in keys that favor this instrument. ?




  4. #29
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    Yes, of course Richard, I was thinking whether I had an image of Paganini´s Genoese instrument and at the same time reading Eugene´s post about the Cremonese mandolin. It is definitive a Genuese mandolin and it could very well have been made by Christiano Nonemacher (I have corrected it in my text, thanks for your fast reply!).

    The Paganini family lived in Genoa and Nicolò (or Niccolò, as is printed on his music) was born there (1782). Before he moved to Parma in 1795 he was already performing and composing his first sonatas. It is believed that his compositions for the mandolin were written in this early period of his live.

    By the way, Carlo Aonzo has recorded Paganini’s complete works for mandolin on the mandolino Genovese (Integrale per Amandorlino (that´s how Paganini called his mandolin) & Chitarra Francese, ARN68420(ARION label).


    For those interested and don´t have Bone´s book, here an exact image of Paganini´s Genoese mandolin.

    Drawing by Alex Timmerman ©.



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  5. #30
    Registered User Alex Timmerman's Avatar
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    Hello Eric,

    Yes, let´s go back to the original thread topic: "Historical mandolins and cultural preferences", as we now have some agreement on the first part of the topic title "Historical mandolins" and their names.

    Perhaps it is also good to see from which angle Richard likes to look upon the second part of his title ("...cultural preferences".)
    This because I have the feeling that Richards tends to look at it from a todays point of view and what sounds best now (with ´modern´ ears, so to speak), whether you, Eugene and myself are rather approuching the topic title as "Historical mandolins and cultural preferences at the time".

    We could of course do both (as already is happening) as clean as possible and if that´s OK, it would be nice to start with how it was prefered at the time a bit more (and give our readers a good insight about when, what and who we are talking) and from that elaborate further to what ever it leads us.


    If you think I am jabbering please don´t bother to reply.

    I just thought of a question asked by our own Plami (01 November, 2002) at the German Mandolin Diskussionsforum (click at the left side-bar on "BDZ Interaktiv" and then on Diskussionsforum) where he never got a any real answer back. It would be nice to inform him and others as good as possible.


    Best,

    Alex




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    Hi Alex,

    This is my favorite kind of "jabbering"! :-)

    (Sorry, I couldn't find Plami's other message)

    I think our task is always a struggle between historical validity (as best we can understand it) and practical reality (as the best we can provide from our present-day vantage point). To succeed, we can't ignore either view.

    We'd all like the opportunity to travel back in time to look over the shoulder of a favourite musician or composer to glean their techniques and the sound bouncing off the walls. I'd love to sit just outside the open door as LVB instructed "the beautiful J" from the piano to play his music on her mandolin. Or better yet, be a fly on the wall in the room housing the rumoured jam-session between S.L. Weiss and J.S. Bach.

    Alas, we only have the bones... the bits of instruments that have survived, precious few original string samples, and the few things that people bothered to write down that we haven't bombed into oblivion over the intervening years.

    In short, I think that all approaches are valid and ideally they can be shown to complement eachother. Surviving instruments and written music show us patterns and give us names and places that can lead to other connections and conclusions. Playing the music, especially on the most historically-accurate instruments we can find leads to other conclusions on the part of the performer which are to my mind just as valid. I will never forget the first time I picked my way through the Vivaldi mandolin concertos for the first time using finger-style technique on a five-course mandolino. I had played and performed these pieces before on 20th century Neapolitan mandolins but it was simply astonishing to see and feel Vivaldi's true understanding of the capabilities of this little instrument.... to "get" what I think he "got". These "feelings" can also be misleading... so everything has to be taken together.

    In this sense, I consider Richard's performance of the Hummel to be admirable. The bones, are just the bones... they are not the music. He as a performing musician is left to "flesh" out the rest to make something that communicates to the listener. We must all admit that the mandolin clearly has its limitations... (in spite of the historical efforts of some to raise it to the level of the violin). In the end, each performance presents one possible answer that (hopefully) moves us closer to better understanding of the music, the instrument, and the time. You noticed that I in part reversed my course (at least WRT the Hummel sonata) after *listening* to Richard play the Sonata again. His music convinced me... which leads me to...

    .. a third factor, and one that I alluded to in my first post, that of putting ourselves in the role of critical listener. I like to think that an uninitiated audience member (or CD buyer), upon hearing the right combination of historically-accurate instrument, strings, informed performance practice, and appropriate venue would be genuinely moved. I'd like them to tap their foot or loose themselves. I'd like them to identify with hearing early Beethoven (or Hummel, Mozart, Vivaldi, etc.) hear the longing emotion in his young mind... hear the familiar musical elements that would later find their feet in more developed ways... I'd like them to realize only lastly that they were hearing it through a mandolin. More music, less novelty.

    That's why I used the word "subjective" as much as I did. In spite of my enthusiasm for the mandolin (and yes, mine goes back 20-some years as well), I must admit that only a small amount of the performed or recorded mandolin music I've heard actually moved me upon a first listening (my gosh that sounds snotty!). In reality, I *believe* that this is a result of us just beginning along the road of historically-accurate instruments and historically-informed performance practice. I try to put myself in the position of the uninitiated listener as often as I can... both to hear my own attempts at performing this music as well as those of others. To succeed, it all has to work and convince and move a listener. This is why I mentioned Caterina's CD. It moved me when I least expected to be moved... with music I'd heard countless times before.

    We also have to remember that much of this music was intended for fairly intimate settings, and small(ish) ensembles, not our large concert halls and large modern orchestras. It is for this reason that I am generally less concerned with "loudness" than I am with nature and quality of tone and how instruments blend and contrast with one-another. Today, projection is a very valid concern, particularly for those who perform publically for a living. Richard alluded to the less-than-enthusiastic reception that players such as Vimercati and Bortolazzi received as the 19th century wore on... they were clearly fighting a loosing battle against a changing musical aesthetic and changing times.

    Ultimately, these little wooden boxes *are* our time machines... sorry for jabbering on so long...

    Eric
    "The effect is pretty at first... It is disquieting to find that there are nineteen people in England who can play the mandolin; and I sincerely hope the number may not increase."

    - George Bernard Shaw, Times of London, December 12, 1893

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    Hi Richard,

    If we want to build a case for the Hummel Concerto and Sonata being intended for different instruments, perhaps we should compare the two pieces musically. Can you make any observations about musical elements in the mandolin parts of the Concerto vs. the Sonata that might be construed as intent for a different target instrument (Cremonese vs. Neapolitan)?

    Most composers are pretty consistent in the way they treat a given instrument... any obvious contrasts might be informative. Also, how far apart (in years) were these two pieces written?

    Eric
    "The effect is pretty at first... It is disquieting to find that there are nineteen people in England who can play the mandolin; and I sincerely hope the number may not increase."

    - George Bernard Shaw, Times of London, December 12, 1893

  8. #33
    Registered User Alex Timmerman's Avatar
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    Exactly!

    Thank you Eric.


    It was - among others - this phrase by Richard that kept going on in my mind (quote): "Concerts in the past that I have given with the [Lambert type] mandolino and the neapolitan type, favored the latter instrument in terms of general volume (the concert in question featured concertos for each instrument with orchestra on period instruments).

    Especially the line: "favored the latter instrument in terms of general volume" of the sentence lead me to thinking that it was all more about the preference of mandolin performing practise today (with chamber orchestras).

    I like to view these matters in their chronological order.

    And therfore happy that you bring forward the number of musicians for a Concerto and the sound of the time (quote): "We also have to remember that much of this music was intended for fairly intimate settings, and small(ish) ensembles, not our large concert halls and large modern orchestras. #It is for this reason that I am generally less concerned with "loudness" than I am with nature and quality of tone and how instruments blend and contrast with one-another".

    These chamber concertos were often given in a ´music-room´ in one of the larger houses by the upper class.

    I am very much in favour to go (first) for the original (to quote you again): "nature, quality of tone and how instruments blend and contrast", because that is what the composers were concerned with while composing.

    The Concertos for these instruments were practically all described as being written for "Mandolino Solo con Violini e Basso" (or like: "Mandolino a solo con Violini e Basso Obligati") meaning that they were scored to be played with two gut-strung violins and a tenor (or even an alto) bowed instrument (as the specifications at the cover on the Neapolitan mandolin Concertos by for instance Cecere, Conforto and Scrioli: "Concerto per il mandolino a solo con dui violini e basso) or even a plucked ´Basso´ like an Arcileuto (often indicated as "Basso del arcileuto" on Mandolino music as indicated in the ´Concertos´ by Giuseppe Vaccari and Lodovico Fontanelli). Also we are not 100% sure what instrument is meant with "Basso".

    Sometimes a viola is also added as Antonio Vivaldi did in his famous Mandolino solo Concerto: "Con[cer]to p[er] Mandolino" RV 425. Here again the Basso continuo part is unspecified (probably for a bowed instrument - perhaps a violoncello (James Tyler) - together with a chordal instrument such as a ´teorbo´ or an ´arcileuto´). Interestingly Vivaldi did give a special specification for the organ to play the continuo part (to be played together with an unspecified - bowed? - "Basso") in his double Concerto: the "Con[cer]to p[er] 2 Mandolini" RV 532 ). In this concerto also a viola player has to join the band.


    It would be interesting for reasons of originality and of compare, if Richard could tell a bit more on how many musicians the chamber orchestra he worked with, counted.



    And of course today, to quote you: "projection is a very valid concern, particularly for those who perform publically for a living". That´s likely why Allison Stephens performes (the most recent recording) the Hummel Concerto with The London Mozart Players on her 1933 concert Embergher mandolin and not on a Cremonese mandolin or her original Vincentius Vinaccia of 1764.
    She even goes a step further in this than I imagine Richard would do.

    And although the Hummel concerto is a bit later than the earliest Mandolino and Neapolitan mandolin Concerti I was talking first, it would be very interesting to hear it performed on a Cremonese mandolin in it´s original chamber orchestra setting on period instruments. Who know´s one time in the (near) future....


    Best,

    Alex

    PS. To find Plami´s question this might help: after clicking at the left side-bar on "BDZ Interaktiv" and then on "Diskussionsforum" at the page (there is no click-link at the left side-bar), and -after done so - search with your own PC search engine with the word: Paganini.

    Succes!




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    Eric, Alex, et al....

    I really don't have the time right now but what's one more evening less of practising, the discussion is much too interesting to let slide. So, here goes with a few answers to posed questions.

    First, the Hummel concerto was written early on in his career specifically for Bortolazzi and his Cremonese mandolin. We are all in agreement and there seems to be no doubt on this fact. The concerto is scored in a typical 18th century classical orchestra fashion with strings, flute and horns (7 voices in all). In only 2 measures in the first movement and the last measures in the last movement is there a situation where the horns or flute are playing at the same time as the mandolin. All of the accompaning passages are written out for sotto voce string playing and possibly using the convention of solo string players (one to a part) rather than tutti. This completely alleviates any problems of balance, even with a soft toned Cremonese instrument played energetically by perhaps the greatest exponent of this instrument. Not a problem at all. The sonata, on the other hand, is much more intertwined and complex, here balance can be a problem depending on the instruments used or the players themselves. The slow movement in the concerto is written in a totally moving fashion with short note values. It really isn't a slow movement at all, rather a comfortable 'andante' with a set of variations. Absolutely perfect for the Cremonese instrument. I've played this piece with modern chamber orchestras on the modern mandolin and, with the exception of the two measures in the very last bars (high Eb to f# under a slur), no tremolo was used nor required (even by Rafaelle Calace standards). The middle movement in the sonata is another story, the theme is so vocal, requiring (if possible) the mezza-di-voce and all sorts of modulation to bring out the emotion. #The sonata is not particularily 'mandolinistic'. It is pure music and not, as such, dependent on a given instrument. Our experience was that the sound of the Neapolitan mandolin could be mistaken for that of the piano, which is effective in spots but we needed to establish a greater differentiation from the two instruments. I realized at the time that I would be challenged from various mandolin quarters as to my use of the tremolo. All of this reminds me of the arguments in baroque violin circles about chinless playing (or not) and the use of vibrato (or not) and the omni-present 'spiccato' approach to bowing prior to 1830. The fact is, tremolo existed and was commented on (both negative and positive). All of these mandolin types co-existed in the period we are discussing. #Musicians (mandolinists) played music and were probably a lot more individual than we would like to imagine today. I regret that I do not have a Cremonese mandolin (yet) and won't know what my tonal and expressive limits are until then with this instrument, so I am indeed intrigued by Alex's observations. Incidently, the Hoffmann concerto is written in a similar fashion to that oof Hummel, and avoids balance problems. Alex can describe precisely what sort of mandolin type he played though I believe it was a 6 course, double strung mandolino, perhaps not so wide bodied, more like the Lambert.

    To answer Alex's question, the concerto performance with the two mandolin types were done with historical instruments (orchestra) and, for what it's worth, baroque performance practise awareness. All I was saying is that the Neapolitan mandolin (Vinaccia style) projected better to the ears of the audience, everything else being equal. I believe the orchestra consisted of 3 firsts, 3 seconds, 2 violas, 2 celli, bass and harpsichord. Eric is quite right about the fact that this music was often heard in more intimate settings than often today (assuming the audience was attentive) but these instruments were used in opera and, for pete's sake, the neapolitan mandolin was one of the street musician's instruments of choice for outdoor serenading in the hussle and bustle of Napoli. Volume or projection seems to have been one its advantage over the other members of the extended mandolin. I would really like to see the other mandolin types given more exposure, especially because there is so much really beautiful music written for the 6 course mandolino(s).

  10. #35
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    Good evening Richard,


    That is a wonderful reply! Very informative.

    You haven´t heard me on the ´yes or no´ tremolo issue; well I am very much with you on that.
    If it is done in good taste it´s fine with me. It was known at the time and the spirit of the age then was very much one of discovering new ways of expression and breaking new grounds with it.

    One only needs to think about the virtuoso players at the time, like for instance Paganini and his friend Luigi Legnani, who both enchanted their audiences!
    The latter stayed for shorter and longer periods in Vienna and used - as one of the first - the tremolo technique as such in his solo guitar compositions. And come to think of it, Paganini in his guitar oevre did that as well.

    So, why would Hummel, Mora de Malfatti or Bortolazzi object...


    Well, that´s it for today; I am sure there is enough coming up the coming days!


    Best,

    Alex




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    Hi Richard,

    Thanks for the valuable insights into the Hummel pieces. I'm out of time too... but unfortunately I don't get to go practice... back to the day-job... :-(

    I hope you didn't perceive criticism from me on the tremolo issue. In fact, I think I wrote that I rather enjoyed and appreciated your very musical use of it on your recording of the Hummel sonata.

    ... but then again, I play my Baroque violin without using my chin and I don't use vibrato! :-)

    All the best,

    Eric
    "The effect is pretty at first... It is disquieting to find that there are nineteen people in England who can play the mandolin; and I sincerely hope the number may not increase."

    - George Bernard Shaw, Times of London, December 12, 1893

  12. #37

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    [QUOTE]"...for pete's sake, the neapolitan mandolin was one of the street musician's instruments of choice for outdoor serenading in the hussle and bustle of Napoli."

    NOW yer talkin' !!!

    Obsequiously yours,

    The Peripatetic Mandolinist, serenando sotto il balcone
    It is not man who lives, but his work. (Ioannis Kapodistrias)

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    Hi all,

    Richard's recording of the Hummel sonata features a fine-sounding replica of a 1795 Viennese piano by Anton Walter to accompany the mandolin.

    In the interest of providing another sampling of late 18th-century Viennese "cultural preferences", it strikes me that it might be useful to provide an listenable example. Here is a link to an album (_Sonnerie: World's First Piano Concertos_) on Magnatune that showcases both "small ensemble" concerto performance with period fortepianos.

    http://www.magnatune.com/artists....ncertos
    (click on the hi-fi or lo-fi links to play the tracks)

    According to the notes, tracks 9-11 are actually played on Mozart's own piano... built in 1777 and signed on the soundboard by J.C. Bach.

    Prepare to open your mind! :-)

    Eric
    "The effect is pretty at first... It is disquieting to find that there are nineteen people in England who can play the mandolin; and I sincerely hope the number may not increase."

    - George Bernard Shaw, Times of London, December 12, 1893

  14. #39
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    Very nice examples Eric!


    Especially the difference in sound and volume between the tutti- and solo- parts. #

    Now imagine the Hummel- and Hoffmann Concerto in such an original entourage!


    Even Leopold Kozeluch´s ´Concertant´ - heavy scored with an unusual strength of 1 & 2 violin(s), viola(s), 2 oboes, 2 horns, 2 bassoons, mandolin, 2 trompets, double bass, pianoforte and "basso" [violoncello] - will then sound to say the least, "different" than one would expect.


    Of interest here is that Leopold Kozeluch was a friend of Ludwig van Beethoven...

    Just think of this: Bortolazzi, Hummel, van Beethoven, Mora de Malfatti, and Kozeluch are all composing for, knowing and/or playing the mandolin...

    It is because they were all linked in a certain way - most likely they all even knew eachother - and the fact that there is jet another friend of Beethoven, the Viennese mandolinist and violinist Wenzel Krumpholz (for whome Ludwig most probably composed his c-minor mandolin Sonatina), that I am inclined to believe that there were two #mandolin types prefered in Vienna: the Cremonese and Milanese mandolin, both single gut-string instruments.

    The Neapolitan mandolin was known, but not very much liked and, unlike the case with the Cremonese and Milanese mandolin, there are sofar no direct indications for this type in Vienna.

    Research is going on, since I found mandolin copys of the Neapolitan type by non Italian makers of exactly that period, only a few hours drive from Vienna.


    Best,

    Alex ©.




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    Hi All,

    Through the modern miracle of Amazon.com and 2-day shipping, I now have Mr. Galfetti's "Mandolin and Fortepiano" recording. I must say that overall I found it quite effective and "easy on the ears". It is frustrating that there is no description in the notes of what instruments he uses. Both 4-course and 6-course pieces sound to me like they are played on single gut strings.

    In any case, it is clear that this was indeed a special time in musical history and Vienna was indeed a very special place. Witness the many different modern ideas of how a historical fortepiano/hammerflugel/pianoforte would have sounded... everything from "banjo-like" to "bar-room" :-) Even though it was a period of a developing aesthetic, it was still a time of great change and musical innovation.

    I am very tempted to agree with Alex when he says: "I am inclined to believe that there were two mandolin types prefered in Vienna: the Cremonese and Milanese mandolin, both single gut-string instruments." As I've said before, I would go even further (out on a limb) and lobby that both may have been played with a plectrum (even though I am a fervent advocate for finger-style mandolino playing for earlier music). As we've done here, each piece should be considered on its own merits and the other types of mandolins shouldn't necessarily be shut out as possibility.

    At the same time that we are working at building concensus, we have to always remain open to new evidence and arguments. Remember, that it is blind concensus that got us where we are... with most modern editions of Hoffmann's works ruthlessly (and silently) edited to remove all those bothersome notes that don't fit on a Neapolitan tuning... or the instrument itself referred to as a "Baroque mandolin". I think it is admirable to seek "historical accuracy" but we must also seek geographic and cultural relevance.

    We have to remain open to exceptions to the rule as well as new ideas. Alex or Richard may yet turn up evidence of Mr. Malfatti's mandolin :-). Musical "evidence", both in the hands of musicians, and in the ears of listeners must also be considered.

    Eric



    "The effect is pretty at first... It is disquieting to find that there are nineteen people in England who can play the mandolin; and I sincerely hope the number may not increase."

    - George Bernard Shaw, Times of London, December 12, 1893

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    This just in...

    I just received a reply from Caterina Lichtenberg. I had asked her what sort of stringing she used for her recording of some contemporary Viennese pieces on a restored Neapolitan-style mandolin by Johann Georg Psenner (1747-after 1798). She replys:

    "yes, on my recording are gut strings. Its a old instrument from the 18 century,"

    Just one more piece of data that combines both approaches!

    Eric
    "The effect is pretty at first... It is disquieting to find that there are nineteen people in England who can play the mandolin; and I sincerely hope the number may not increase."

    - George Bernard Shaw, Times of London, December 12, 1893

  17. #42

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    All right, ye wise ones Suppose an ignoramus like myself wishes —I say suppose— to climb out of his one-size-fits-all universe and "go highbrow" into some 18th-century repertoire: Which ONE instrument (i.e. type of mandolin) would you recommend?

    Or is this question doomed a priori, deserving a rhetorical, rabbinical answer of "ALL types"?

    *sigh*
    It is not man who lives, but his work. (Ioannis Kapodistrias)

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    Good morning vkioulaphides (is it Victor? pleased to meet you),

    ""go highbrow" into some 18th-century repertoire: Which ONE instrument (i.e. type of mandolin) would you recommend?"

    Ha! Isn't "highbrow mandolinist" some sort of oxymoron?! :-)

    In all seriousnes, with music written for both the four-course (Neapolitan) tuning such as Beethoven/Mozart/Hummel/Guiliani as well as six-course (mandolino) tuning (Hoffmann), there is no ONE answer. Though, I suppose you could have a Cremonese copy built and play the heavily-edited modern Hoffmann editions. If you go with a six-course instrument, you get to learn to read music all over again for the new tuning. This is a great process but it can be frustrating if you've always played the Neapolitan (violin-like) tuning.

    I personally think its best to start off with the right number and tuning of courses, then worry about how they're strung and plucked. I thoroughly enjoy Hoffmann's music on my historically-inappropriate Lombard mandolin (about 50-100 years too late). This gets you six single courses, mandolino tuning, and a plectrum. You can still find these instruments fairly reasonably priced, now and again... though most need major restoration.

    All the best,

    Eric



    "The effect is pretty at first... It is disquieting to find that there are nineteen people in England who can play the mandolin; and I sincerely hope the number may not increase."

    - George Bernard Shaw, Times of London, December 12, 1893

  19. #44

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    Pardon me, Eric; yes, it is Victor and I am likewise pleased to meet you at the Café.

    Well, yes, I suppose "highbrow mandolinist" is a bit of an oxymoron although, I must admit, in my cultural background the mandolin is held as something quaint, elegant, gentlemanly— as opposed, that is, to the bouzouki-culture that duly belongs to the urban underclasses (its ultimate "gentrification" being more a commercial product of the post-WWII recording-industry). So, in light of the fact that this thread is subtitled "... and cultural preferences", yes, the mandolin is quite "highbrow", a mark of "the beautiful people" in that 1860's-1920's era.

    But I digress (again). As you may (or may not) know, I am a double-bass player by profession; I live in fourths! On the other hand, I have played mandolin(s) since time immemorial, so fifths are curiously equivalent in comfort. Is it perhaps that the intervals are directly invertible? Who knows...?

    My brief training on the guitar was always troubled by that interspersed third. How confusing... Also, in my casual forays into the bouzouki-world, I simply canNOT handle the modern, CFAD tuning to save my life; I much prefer the original, pre-WWII bozuk düzen DAD of the classic, medieval six-stringer (again, a fifth and a fourth).

    So, to rephrase and refine my question: Which instrument, tuned in either fifths or fourths ONLY should I consider, if I considered?
    It is not man who lives, but his work. (Ioannis Kapodistrias)

  20. #45
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    hello Eric (et al),

    Why should Hoffmann' s mandolin be a single course instrument? Has it survived? The double course mandolin of this type kept it's presence fairly late in the century (18th) I gather. Not all musicians of this time played on the latest instruments. As for the one instrument to cover the most ground of this century (18th), depends on which music you like best. I would vie towards the Neapolitan if, for no other reason, it opens up so much of the violin repertoire in a more natural fashion. Then again, you might be happy playing this music on a well tuned and fine sounding late romantic round back, so then the choice would have to lean towards the 6 course instrument (mid-18th century model) to cover as much ground as possible with the music of the time.

    What does Caterina mean by gut strings for the neapolitan mandolin since the only plain gut string that should be on this mandolin is the 1st course (E string)? Of more interest to me is whether she used twisted brass for the D. This is the string that most of my colleagues avoid like the plague which baffles me since it is quite unique in sound.

    Victor, you can't avoid that third unless you play the little 5 course mandolino which has a B-E-a-d-g tuning, then you're stuck with Vivaldi and a few odds and ends of the earlier period.




  21. #46
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    Hi Victor,

    If your criteria really is fourths or fifths ONLY, then the Cremonese is your only answer for music of this period. 4-course Cremonese mandolins are tuned completely in fifths, and tuned just like Neapolitan mandolins (and violins).

    Milanese (and Lombardian) mandolins use the mandolino tuning but to my knowledge, both types were always six courses... Though earlier 4- and 5-course mandolinos were tuned in straight fourths, with the 6-course tuning, that pesky major third has to creep in to give you a G on the bottom to match that of the top course (by analogy with six-course lutes and guitars). In this case, at least, the third is out of the way on the bottom of the instrument (G, B, e, a, d, g' low-pitch to high). The G-string is also not used all that often in my experience, mostly I think its there for (open) chords and sympathetic resonance and the occasional low note.

    Collect 'em all! :-)

    All the best,

    Eric
    "The effect is pretty at first... It is disquieting to find that there are nineteen people in England who can play the mandolin; and I sincerely hope the number may not increase."

    - George Bernard Shaw, Times of London, December 12, 1893

  22. #47

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    I think Tyler & Sparks and possibly Baines cite a low f# as a possible alternative tuning for the 6-course mandolino (I'm in the office and surrounded by biological reference material, but nothing musical). #I have not personally inspected tablatures that might provide evidence for straight fourths in six courses and am depending upon my failing memory here...so take that for what it's worth.

    For 18th-c. music, Victor, I think there is a fairly distinct line between the fading baroque and upstart rococo/early-classical aesthetics. #If you favor the baroque, I would suggest you definitely pursue a 6-course mandolino, "decorative" g and all (and look into Arrigoni if you do!). #If you favor the classical (excepting Hoffman...and this might contradict some of the Viennese#cultural preferences debated above), I think I would recommend an early Neapolitan in four courses of paired strings: 1) they are so much easier to locate, whether considering extant instruments or commissioning a new reproduction and 2) there is simply so much music that we know was intended for this instrument--Leone, Gervasio, Denis, etc...And it sounds mighty cool playing Beethoven too!




  23. #48
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    Hi Victor,

    Sorry, this thread has been mostly about late 18th/early 19th century Viennese music (Hummel in particular) and my response was based on that fairly narrow consideration. Richard's (and Eugene's) recommendation to look at 18th century Neapolitan mandolins (or modern reproductions, as is more practical) is also quite valid. The Neapolitan instrument gives you access to much of this music and earlier Italian/French music as well... and your familiarity with the modern Neapolitan mandolin will largely transfer. Choose the music you want to play, then select an instrument. Cremonese and Milanese instruments are certainly more obscure today.

    Richard, Yes, of course the six-course mandolino (double-strung) can certainly be used for Hoffmann as you correctly suggest. As you know, I too own an instrument "after" Lambert and (IMHO) it works much better for this music than for earlier stuff.

    Single gut strings just *seem* logical to me for Hoffmann (if yet unproven) from a player's and a listener's perspective. I don't have my references with me but I recall a couple of scholars (Tyler?, Morey?) suggesting the Milanese instrument for Hoffmann. Remember that double-coursed guitars underwent a similar transition to single strings around this same period. Perhaps one of the guitarists on the list (Alex?, Eugene?) can comment on aesthetic considerations in Viennese guitar music of the time that might imply that shift?

    As to your question about Caterina's recording, all I have is the response I sent. Based on her response, and listening to the recording, I would guess that the *entire* instrument is strung in gut and I don't hear the characteristic sound of the twisted-brass D-string or the octave doubling of the G-string. Again, the choice of gut strings may also have been a consideration for the recently-restored nature of the antique instrument. Other than Leone's earlier (French/Neapolitan) method, are there other references to the brass/gut stringing technology (particularly Viennese references)?

    >> then you're stuck with Vivaldi and a few odds and
    >> ends of the earlier period.

    Hmm... that seems like pretty good company to me! I find much of this earlier music (Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Arigoni, Sammartini etc.) to be very attractive music indeed, especially when played with the fingers on an appropriately- built mandolino. Maybe you were just being practical in your recommendation for Victor.

    And, for the record... my Neapolitan D-strings are twisted (as, some would argue, am I)!

    Back to the grind...

    Eric

    ps - We are trying to be "pure" here (as Alex said) for the purposes of discussion but it goes without saying that people should feel free to enjoy this music on what ever flavor of mandolin that they happen to play.



    "The effect is pretty at first... It is disquieting to find that there are nineteen people in England who can play the mandolin; and I sincerely hope the number may not increase."

    - George Bernard Shaw, Times of London, December 12, 1893

  24. #49
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    Hello all,

    What is most important here (in Vienna and Prague - to a somewhat lesser extent) is the fact that there was a well developed musical awareness and taste in Vienna around 1800.

    All the important composers there left us works for plucked instruments, starting with Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) for the ´lute´ (´Laute´) in combination with strings, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) composed both for the ´mandolin´, and - last but not least while being a guitar player himself - Franz Schubert (1797-1828) for his arrangement of Matiegka´s composition into a work for guitar in combination with flute, viola and violoncello and the many songs that were first written for guitar and later ´set´ for voice and pianoforte.

    So plucked instruments were very much liked in the Classical Art music here.

    All of the men had, at a certain time in their lives, chosen Vienna as their hometown and it is because of the cultivated ´taste´ in that town (being the most important cultural European capital then), that I tend to think that the #Cremonese- and Milanese mandolin were more ´in vogue´. Also the appriciation of the (gut-strung) Mandora (´Mandorlaute´ as the Austrians and Germans called it) was still still there well up into the first decennium of the 19th century. Whereas in other places the popularity of this instrument and (other) lute likes had long disappeared.

    Because of this musical understanding of the Viennese public (middle class and high society) the Neapolitan mandolin most likely wasn´t met with a lot of appreciation. Especially when it´s "jangling and unbalanced sound" (to put it bluntly as Bortolazzi did) is compared with the smooth and pleasing sound of the gut-stringers (the Mandolino, Cremonese and Milanese type)

    Was Bortolazzi´s goal to simply put aside the Neapolitan type as a primitive folk-instrument...


    Naturally the preference of sound has to do with the sudden popularity of the guitar (gutstrung Italian type) at the end of the 18th century. It also showed the clear possibilities of single stringing and fingerstyle playing.

    But jet the role of another instrument that was played by several #musicians (both professional and amateur) in Vienna must be looked at: the already mentioned Mandora is likely to be the best example here. This is the only instrument that gives insight in the changing from being #double-strung towards single-strung. And that within a few years exactly in Bortolazzi´s period.

    As for the Neapolitan mandolin: that type had not much developed in the sence of sound quality since it´s birth around 1740. This would only improve in the frist quarter of the 19th century through the development steel and the application of (thin) high strings for the mandolin (improvement especially for the 3nd and 1st string pair). This was, as is believed, first applied by Pasquale Vinaccia in Neapoli.

    It is interesting and of importance that in Vienna only one tutor was available at the time we are speaking about (published in Leipzig, 1805) ànd that it was the only[!] one in the German language written by an Italian[!]; the Brescian virtuoso Bortolazzi. And that it was written for the Cremonese type with it´s single gut strings... #
    Bortolazzi must have had quite a lot of pupils and admirers, otherwise no publishing house would have brought it on the market.
    Also, it doesn´t need a lot of imagination to think that if there was a Neapolitan virtuoso around in Vienna (like ±25 years earlier so many of them were in Paris, all publishing their tutors at about the same time for the Neapolitan mandolin...), he would have challenged Bortolazzi with his own Neapolitan mandolin method. #

    So, for the acceptation of the gutstring types as being the most popular, there are even more considerations than jet alone the number of preserved mandolin types in Viennese collections, it also has to do with the musical atmosphere at the time.

    To come back to Mozart; this great composer wrote two songs: ´Die Zufriedenheit´ and ´Komm, liebe Zither´, and a most beautiful Aria ´Deh, vieni alla finestra´, with accompaniment of a "mandolin". Interestingly this Aria was ´added´ to the opera ´Don Giovanni´ during the rehearsels of the first performance of the work in Prague (1787).

    Generally is believed (although without any given proof) that the type meant here is a mandolino Napolitano. About the mandolinist (composer and organist), a certain Jean-Baptiste Kucharz from Prague, nothing much is known. Except - and than it becomes interesting again - that this man was the mandolin teacher of Josephine Clary for which van Beethoven composed three of his four (perhaps five) mandolin compositions.


    There is however more reason to think that the sinle gut-strung types were also more popular here (Prague) and that even in this particular Mozart case (his Aria) originally a Cremonese mandolin was involved...


    Best,

    Alex

    © Alex Timmerman


    PS. by the way, Hummel was a pupil of Mozart.


    Here a nice action photo of Duilio Galfetti playing a copy of a Cremonese mandolin accompanied by Diego Fasolis on a Pianoforte (photo: Swiss radio).



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  25. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by
    Perhaps one of the guitarists on the list (Alex?, Eugene?) can comment on aesthetic considerations in Viennese guitar music of the time that might imply that shift?
    I don't think the guitar occupied much of the Germanic musical psyche until the very end of the 18th c. #As Alex points out, I believe citterns and lute-like kin (i.e. mandora) were favored until then. #Tyler & Sparks (2002) write that J.A. Otto, a luthier in Weimar, believed he had invented the 6-string guitar some time after 1788. #Of course, there were already 6-string guitars in Italy before then (interestingly, some famous makers of Neapolitan mandolins were at the forefront of the 6-string guitar: e.g., Vinaccia and Fabricatore). #Even more interesting, Otto wrote that the guitar was introduced to Germany as a 5-string instrument.

    Antoine de Lhoyer, one of the earlier guitarists to make a career in Germanic lands during the classical age, was a character that was surprisingly overlooked by the new Tyler & Sparks text on the guitar. #Lhoyer briefly settled in Hamburg after soldiering on the wrong side of the French revolution. #He was a proponent of the earlier, short-lived 5-string guitar. #He even published a virtuosic concerto for this instrument in 1802 while he lived in Hamburg (comfortably predating similar works for 6-string guitar by Giuliani and Carulli, these latter two often being cited as the "firsts"). #Lhoyer's later music--under pressure from the popularity of the likes of Giuliani, Sor, Carulli, Carcassi, etc.--was for 6-string guitars.

    Tyler & Sparks also say that because there was not a strong guitar tradition in Germanic lands, the 6-string instrument was quickly embraced upon its arrival in force at the end of the 18th c. #By the time Giuliani settled in Vienna in 1806 and Diabelli was advocating things guitarry, the 6-string guitar was already established as the guitar and Austria had kind of missed out on the whole of the turbulence of transition from five courses to six single strings.




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