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Thread: Historical mandolins and cultural preferences

  1. #276
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    Quote Originally Posted by
    Robert, neither I nor my duo partner (Dr. Kerry Alt) can remember the maker of his 19th-century guitar off the tops of our heads (we're both at our respective places of employment just now). It will come back to one of us...
    Hi Robert, the maker of my duo partner's 19th-century guitar was Scott Tremblay.

    BTW, I've determined that the first night's concert was not recorded on video... and the audio recordings are of such a poor quality that they're not likely to demonstrate much of use once they're conpressed to fly on the Web. Suffice to say that Mozart's "deh viene ala finestra" is just wonderful to play on the mandolino in forths with the fingers... You'll just have to take my word for it! Or better yet, try it youselves! :-)

    Eric

    ps - Let this be a lesson... if you are you accompanying a young singer, it is probably OK to let him have one (1) glass of wine to calm his nerves before the performance... but two (2) glasses are *not* better than one!



    "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

  2. #277
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    Eric,

    I never saw a very small mandolin, but you are an excellent player. #I enjoyed watching the video clip.

    All my best friendly regards to you and to the mandolin fans.

    George




  3. #278

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    Any thoughts regarding the mandolin type for which Gragnani (1768-early 19th c.) intended his mandolin music? He started life in Livorno, Italy, spent some time on the move in Germany, and eventually settled in Paris. The manuscript of the three nocturnes for guitar and mandolin carries an Italian-language title page and is held in Dubrovnik, Croatia. I don't know when or where or for whom they were set to paper, but I would speculate these to be for the Neapolitan type.

  4. #279
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    Hi Eugene,

    I don't know this composer or his music so I can't hazard a guess. Determining where (and for whom) the pieces were written could yield some clues, of course. Are these three pieces available in modern edition and/or facsimile? I'd love to check them out.

    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

  5. #280

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    Yes, Carlo Aonzo and Luigi Verrini (2002) put together an edition for publication through Berben. The notturni are really pleasant with a good degree of mandolin-guitar dialog (the guitar gets to enjoy a bit more than boom-chuck-chuck). They can be taken without ever leaving first position, but still manage to sound mighty musical. Gragnani is pretty well-known to guitarists, was one of that first generation to bring guitar into the classical era and six strings, and was a friend of Carulli. I especially like Gragnani's chamber music.

  6. #281
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    Thanks. Can you tell me who sells this edition?

    As for stabs in the dark and blatant opinions, I personally very much like the sound of a gut-strung mandolin paired with a gut-strung 19th-century guitar. Knowing whether the pieces were written in Germany or Paris could be helpful as preferences in those two cities seem to have been very different. If Gragnani was writing in Germany or Austria, I might lean towards a gut-strung model. I suppose it would be interesting to do a survey of original music for the mandolin and guitar pairing from this period:

    - Bortolazzi, Cremonese (gut)
    - Von Call, Milanese or Mandolino (presumably gut)
    - Paganinni, Genoese (presumably metal-strung)

    What other *original* music for mandolin and guitar do we have from the period? I supposed Hoffmann might count... since the basso parts for his quartets are intended for the liuto... likely a late mandora (presumably with guitar tuning). Here again I would presume a gut-strung instrument for the mandolin part.

    Are there any specific mandolin/guitar pairings from contempory (or earlier) French rep.? Come to think of it I can't recall anything for this pairing that specifically calls for the Neapolitan instrument.

    On the other hand, my head is very fuzzy today... I'll probably remember something after I post this...

    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

  7. #282
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    Quote: "Thanks. Can you tell me who sells this edition?"

    Trekel (www.trekel.de) carries it. I haven't checked Guitar Solo but that is a possibility as well.
    Robert A. Margo

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    Correction: Guitar Solo does not carry the Gragnani; however, in addition to Trekel, one can order it directly from Berben, www.berben.it
    Robert A. Margo

  9. #284

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    Of course, the Giuliani quintets also specify liuto. Sparks (1999) only offers speculation on accompanying the Neapolitan instrument with guitar: "The guitar was a popular choice in Vienna ca. 1800, and it may well have been used together with the mandoline in Paris 25 years earlier."

    I just don't know where or when in his career Gragnani wrote the nocturnes for mandolin. I suppose I can ask Carlo if he gleaned any clues in preparing the Berben edition.

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    Eugene: I've not played the Nocturnes, but I assume these are different from what are known as the "Sonatas" by Gragnani which are for violin+guitar, and which work perfectly fine for mandolin + guitar. Correct?
    Robert A. Margo

  11. #286

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    Correct, these are something different. #The title page reads Tre Notturni a Chitarra e Mandolino del Sig. Gragnani.

    One of the ensembles with which I play regularly does the fine trio op. 13 for flute, violin, and guitar (I play the guitar in it). #Again, I really like Gragnani's chamber music and am surprised by the neglect it endures today, especially given the excess of perfromance of chamber music by some other classical-era guitar composers.




  12. #287
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    Hi Eugene, et. al,

    Yesterday I received the Gragnani "tre notturni" from Trekel in the mail along with his three duetti for violin and guitar. Looking at the Notturni (though I haven't played through them yet) they certainly seem to imply an instrument tuned in fifths (Cremonese or Neapolitan/Roman style) played with a plectrum.

    As another data point, the violin/guitar "duetti" seem to indicate authorship in Milano, ca 1810. This guy clearly got around!

    I'm quite taken with the pairing of gut-strung instruments (e.g. Cremonese/milanese) with the 19th century guitar (alla Bortolazzi)... so that's how I will likely play them. They would clearly work on the wire-strung variants as well.

    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

  13. #288

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    Thanks for the thoughts, Eric. #I am as likely to take them both ways (i.e., either gut or wire) as the whim takes me.




  14. #289

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    I've been playing the Gragnani notturni on mandolno Bresciano since Sunday. I love them that way!

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    Beethoven`s original score (Big Fugue for string quartet) was found 4 months ago in a library in Philadelfia. It has been considered lost from 115 years. May be there`s also a hope for Beethoven`s lost 5. mandolin piece.

  16. #291
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    Default Re: Historical mandolins and cultural preferences

    This thread has a lot of information, that still is very interesting.

    New members, interested in historical mandolins, their tuning, strings and music played on, may not know that this is here, as there were no posts for a longtime.

    Recently there are discussions about plectra and quills, gut and metal strings and terminology. There are the threads about Fabricatore, Lombardian mandolins............reason enough for me to bring it into life again.

    Last thread with discussion about these topics is the one at "builders and repair": plans of Brescian mandolin. http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...an-mandolin...

    I think it is worth to have this discussion in the classical section. Maybe this thread is a good one for it.

  17. #292
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    Default Re: Historical mandolins and cultural preferences

    After all these years, I still enjoy this thread. It is interesting reading what we thought we all knew years ago... :-)

    I thought I'd push it to the top to see if anyone is interested in these discussions.

    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

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  19. #293

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene View Post
    Galfetti recorded the Hummel sonata without tremolo, I believe on the Cremonese-type instrument, but his instrument choice is never specified in the liner notes. #(Richard says Orlandi's recording is with a Cremonese mandolin, but I don't have that one.) #I assume to compensate for the rather rapid decay of mandolins in general, Galfetti takes the tempo of the middle movement a bit faster, maybe a solid andantino or so. #Frankly, I like this movement to be just a touch slower. #I also like what Richard has written of tremolo in this piece, that "It also provides more distinction between the pianoforte and the mandolin (the two instruments can sometimes sound so much alike in certain passages)." #I find this interesting and quite true given the percussive, bell-like attack of a singularly plucked note. #Of course, I have no way of knowing whether Hummel wanted the two instruments to blend as one or to contrast. #I don't imagine we ever will know unless somebody finds conclusive evidence of the instrument preferred by Dr. Malfatti.

    Richard also writes Bone is usually unclear as to which mandolin species he was addressing in any of his articles. #I might even accuse Bone of occasionally being boldly, blatantly speculative. #He goes so far as to provide an image of the bowl of "Beethoven's Mandolin" that looks for all the world like a Lombardian instrument made more than half a century after Beethoven's passing. #The picture he offers of "Paganini's Mandolin" looks like a Genovese-type instrument, but with the peghead modified to carry four courses of paired strings riding down the center-most nut slots of an unmodified 6-course nut! #A seemingly odd way to modify an instrument from six courses to four! #Does anybody know where this instrument resides now?

    Bone also writes that the Viennese guitarist Mertz taught and composed for mandolin. #I have searched a number of online catalogs of well-known collections of guitar music as well as consulting scholarly friends with substantial private collections and found no evidence of extant mandolin music by Mertz. #Mertz played guitars by Schertzer, a protege of the Stauffer shop. #When Makaroff, another guitarist, visited Schertzer, he wrote that Schertzer had no guitars commissioned to show him, but did show him a mandolin commissioned by "Count L." #The mandolin was "excellently made." #I have mused that Schertzer might have had a semi-standardized model for mandolins, and if Mertz, a popular and published guitarist, did play and compose for mandolin that it may have been the same species commissioned from Schertzer by "Count L."...and may even be whatever species was most popular in Vienna at that time. #I don't think anybody has uncovered a mandolin that could be solidly attributed to Schertzer. #I know Alex has unearthed some interesting Cremonese-type flat instruments of Austrian origin. #Of course, there is still no guarantee that an Italian expatriate, which I'm guessing Malfatti was, would favor Vienna's popular breed of mandolin (whatever that was) over a Neapolitan.
    Embarrasment at coming into a conversation which is obviously highly informed and erudite, to ask a question which I am PROBABLY (?) asking in the wrong place... Please correct me gently...!
    Basically, I have a nicely made Milanese mandolin, without any maker's mark at all, and with two unusual features
    A- the peghead ends not in the usual square block, but in a violin-like scroll
    B- the body is lined with thin spruce running "east - west" i.e. at right-angles to the obvious external body segments.
    If anyone feels kind enough to make any suggestions I can send out some reasonable photographs
    Peter "Pav" Verity, in Edinburgh

  20. #294

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    Hello Peter. Mandolins lined inside with spruce shavings rather than paper is a feature of a Roman school of mandolin making. Your mandolin could be made by a Roman luthier or someone fond of Roman school anywhere else

  21. #295

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    I'd like to see, Pav. Can you share those images? I have handled and measured an odd early Embergher in six courses, but with a completely unscrolled, flat peghead,

  22. #296

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    Hi Eugene. Did you happen to photograph that odd Embergher? I'd be very interested to see the pics. PM me if for any reason publishing here is not appropriate. Thanks.

  23. #297

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    Sorry to have missed this comment, vic-victor. Yes, I did, but they're of poor quality and not where I'm traveling. Keep hassling me, and I'll try to remember to PM a couple when I can find where I've stashed the files. The photos were taken on a recon mission for a book project, and I never managed to revisited for proper photography because the project was ultimately aborted. The instrument itself is an odd duck, a little early for Emberghers, a little coarse. I suspect it may have been built to the concept of "Mandolino lombardo a corde doppie metalliche" as described in the appendix to Pisani (1899).

  24. #298

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    And in case you're still peeking in, pav, this is a ca. 1890 mandolino toscano (again following the nomenclature given by Pisani: like the Brescian, but later and with a larger lombardo-like soundbox) of mine by Bavassano e Figlio.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  25. #299
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    Default Re: Historical mandolins and cultural preferences

    Eugene, might that odd Embergher be the six course instrument in the Stearns Collection at the University of Michigan? I will post some photos tomorrow.

  26. #300

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene View Post
    And in case you're still peeking in, pav, this is a ca. 1890 mandolino toscano (again following the nomenclature given by Pisani: like the Brescian, but later and with a larger lombardo-like soundbox) of mine by Bavassano e Figlio.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Nice, in fact the quilt is almost as nice as the mandolino toscano!

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    Eugene 

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