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Mike Marshall & Caterina Lichtenberg - JS Bach

By Mandolin Cafe
May 17, 2015 - 5:30 pm

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 Mike Marshall & Caterina Lichtenberg - JS Bach

Mike Marshall & Caterina Lichtenberg - JS Bach

Mike Marshall and Caterina Lichtenberg have released JS Bach, their world premier recording of Johann Sebastian Bach's Two-Part Inventions, Organ Duets and Canons from the Art of the Fugue arranged for mandolin and mandocello.

JS Bach is set for release on May 19, currently available only from at the time this article was published. The recording can be purchased on iTunes and CDBaby in the near future.


The Fifteen Two-Part Inventions
Invention in C Major BWV 772
Invention in C minor BWV 773
Invention in D Major BWV 774
Invention in D minor BWV 775
Invention in Eb Major BWV 776
Invention in E Major BWV 777
Invention in E minor BWV 778
Invention in F Major BWV 779
Invention in F minor BWV 880
Invention in G Major BWV 881
Invention in G minor BWV 882
Invention in A Major BWV 883
Invention in A minor BWV 884
Invention in Bb Major BWV 885
Invention in B minor BWV 886

The Four Organ Duets
Duetto in E minor BWV 802
Duetto in F Major BWV 803
Duetto in G Major BWV 804
Duetto in A minor BWV 805

Three Canons from the Art of the Fugue
Canon at the Twelfth in Counterpoint at the Fifth
Canon in Augmentation and Contrary Motion
Canon at the Octave

Duetto in G Major

From the recording JS Bach, listen to the track Duetto in G Major.

From the liner notes

The works heard here have never before been recorded by mandolinists, and itís long overdue. The mandolin was well known and popular in Bachís time (Bachís Italian contemporary, Antonio Vivaldi, wrote five beautiful mandolin concertos). Hearing Bach on these instruments allows us to experience the ancient music in a new way, and yet the instrumental sound transports us back to the early 18th Century, the first golden age of mandolin music. The two Woll mandolins have a somewhat fuller, rounder sound than a typically bright Italian bowl-back mandolin. The mandocello, a larger instrument with longer courses tuned to lower pitches, is darker and mellower, with a pleasantly exotic tone quality in its lower range. (Its relationship to the mandolin is like that of the cello to the violin.) These differences in color and timbre enhance our awareness of Bachís two melodic lines as they dance in a framework of time, and toss the musical focus back and forth between them.

But of course, instruments donít make music, people do. It is the combined and loving artistry of Caterina and Mike that invites us to experience these intense and colorful miniature soundscapes, most of which were created by J. S. Bach in 1723 for his teenage son Wilhelm.

David Gordon, Dramaturge
Carmel Bach Festival

Additional information


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Reader Comments

May 18, 2015 06:42 AM
Now that's nice. I'll definitely ask for this to be my birthday gift.
May 18, 2015 08:23 AM
What a lovely recording, the sample sold me instantly! I love the nuance of Bach's counterpoint and have enjoyed many of these on piano or organ. The timbre of mandolin and mandocello together breathes new life; so brilliantly that novice listener might even assume this was Bach's original instrumentation. Tutti bravi Mike and Caterina!
PJ Doland
May 21, 2015 08:25 AM
The performances are sublime ...but there is SO MUCH REVERB on this recording. I really wish it was a dry studio recording.
Capt. E
May 21, 2015 09:34 AM
I wouldn't call it REVERB. That is a term better applied to electric instruments. The recordings were made in a live room which in my opinion is more in keeping with the way the music was originally heard.
PJ Doland
May 22, 2015 08:33 AM
I assumed it was natural. What, exactly, would you call that, if not reverb? Presence?

I do understand it's more in keeping with the way the music was originally heard. It's just my personal preference (obviously). I find it easier to hear details and individual notes when a recording sounds dryer.
Capt. E
May 22, 2015 10:20 AM
I guess reverb is as good a word as any. I agree it would be interesting to hear a "dry" recording. That is one of the great things about it can change with the enviornment it is played in.
May 22, 2015 01:32 PM
German bowl backs have that "Reverb" built in from what I have been able to hear. The live pieces from Chris Acquavella always sound like he has his reverb set at 11. The dryest I have ever heard is this video: [video=youtube;AYDyPb4KESw][/video]
And Mike Marshall's Monteleone Mandocello can ring for days, so it would be interesting to know what the studio was like when the recorded this album.

My copy is waiting for me at home. I am very much looking forward to listening to this cd!
Phil Vinyard
May 22, 2015 05:56 PM
I'm hoping they'll publish a book of the arrangements they used.
May 22, 2015 11:04 PM
I just downloaded it from Amazon yesterday and've been listening to it since then. Excellent work. Compares favorably with Chris Thile's and Bela Fleck's similar Bach endeavors (which I've also been listening to.)
Gary Leonard
May 23, 2015 12:09 AM
Look at the liner notes. "Additional reverb added at..(German studio name).

Not a deal breaker for me, I hear natural sounding, well played instruments on a great recording (listening to the CD on a high quality nearfield system).

Mike/Caterina were there, and I am sure they know how the instruments sounded. If additional tweaks to the recording were needed to get the sound they wanted, I wouldn't call them out on it. Besides, who is to say a flat transfer of the studio recording would be any better, perhaps the intent of the studio recording was to get the detail and dynamic range, to be further produced into the final product.

PJ Doland, I would be curious what format you are listening to, the CD or iTunes. Perhaps the mastered for iTunes is to blame?

Now that you brought the reverb thing up, time to put on the Grado RS1 headphones and see what those say, my system is rather revealing, and I would be curious to see if my initial thoughts on the quality of the recording stand.
PJ Doland
May 23, 2015 08:03 AM
I listened to the 320kbps high-quality stream on Spotify through my Westone 4R in-ear quad-driver headphones.
May 23, 2015 09:11 AM
My copy is from Amazon and I'm sure I'm hearing what they intended on my Grado headphones. And it is superb. Baroque music is often played on old churches with exactly this kind of echo. Of course it is a matter of personal taste and Avi Avital has less echo on his recording. A quick listen to Chris Thile jumps to really dry and sort of un-natural sounding Bach. And then over to Hilary Hahn on violin and yikes, she has the echo going like in a huge, marble cathedral. So the three bears huh? Momma bear is the middle ground and Caterina is the momma bear. I love her! And you too Mike, ha, ha.
Gary Leonard
May 23, 2015 07:41 PM
Only Four inventions in so far, listening on the headphones, and I agree DouC. Superb!
May 23, 2015 09:02 PM
I bought it as an MP3 download... Love it.

May 23, 2015 10:09 PM
I need to wait a few days for my emusic credits to refresh. So happy that it's available via that 'record club'-like service. Can't wait to hear.

Questions of 'how close to mic' and consequently 'how much ambient sound in the recording' and 'where to record' make a tremendous difference in the sound of a recording. To my more contemporary oriented ear, many classical recordings sound as if they're in a cave or down a well -- or in a large stone cathedral - and for this listener it can be very off-putting.

As for choice of American v European style mandolins, here's what Thile had to say in my interview with him for the Cafe a while back: [QUOTE]"I haven't interfaced with the classical mandolin scene that much, so I don't really know. I've talked to Caterina (Lichtenberg) a little about it. She prefers the bowl-back mandolin, probably for the same reasons that I prefer the American mandolin. That's what she's used to. And the funny thing is, she defends the European mandolin with the same language that I use for the American mandolin. She finds more complexity of tone (in the bowl-back) — more sound around the sound — and she describes the F-5 as sounding more delicate. And to my ear it's the opposite. I think that bowl-back mandolins sound less complex and less substantial. I would never consider switching, but that's just me. It's not an indictment of that style of instrument." End Quote
May 24, 2015 08:53 AM
I think it is important to learn about the other styles of music and other ways of doing things. It is good to expand your own realm of abilities but it is also good to understand how other musicians understand music.

This includes recording engineers. And the listening public.

Scott Tichenor
May 24, 2015 01:03 PM
Mike and Caterina got a nice mention in the prominent music blog Slipped Disc, one of the few music blogs I follow closely because the owner is incredibly connected to the music community and routinely shares information I find important.
Dancing Seahorse
May 27, 2015 12:13 PM
I finally received this from yesterday. I am listening to the glorious music now. I love the beautifully shot photos of both Caterina and Mike in the liner notes.
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