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A choice of the repertory for mandolin : Baroque - Classic - Romantic - Contempory


1. Baroque repertoire

J. S. Bach Aria variata in a-moll
(1685 - 1750)

Johann Sebastian Bach does not need an introduction. He composed this work for harpsichord. Because of the polyphonic structure of this composition (two voices), it is possible to play the right-hand voice on the mandolin and the left-hand voice on the guitar. Originally, this Aria has ten variations. We have chosen four that suit the instruments best.

G. Leone Sonata VI
(ca. 1725 - 1790)
- Maestoso espressivo
- Larghetto
- Menuetto con Variationi

Gabriele Leone was born in Naples. From 1769 he was the mandolin teacher of the duke of Chartres (France). He wrote a very important teaching method for mandolin.
The Sonata VI, from a 1767 publication dedicated to Lord de Bagge, is one of the most impressive pieces from the classic mandolin era.

A. R. Capponi Sonata XII
(18th century, second half)
- Largo
- Allegro nobile
- Fuga
- Scherzo pastorale (Allegro moderato)

Not much is known about the life and work of Abbate Ranieri Capponi. Probably, he was a talented composition teacher. After his death in 1744, his brother published a book in Florence containing 12 sonatas : "Sonate da camera par vari strumente". The title page portrayed 5 instruments: violin, mandolin, flute, double bass and harpsichord. By this practice, common for the time, the publisher showed which instruments the sonatas were written for.

Sonata XII consists of four parts that vary in harmony, thematic material, and form. The first part is a kind of overture in a slow tempo. It contrasts with the second part which has a cheerful character and is full of rhythmical elements. A fugue follows where both instruments have the same theme one after another. The last part is a rural dance with three different moods and tempi (scherzo - largo - allegro), bringing fun, serenity, and fresh briskness.


2. Classical repertory

N. Paganini: Sonata concertata (12'00")
C. G. Scheidler: Sonate D-dur (11'00")

Sonata concertata
N. Paganini (1782 - 1840)
- Allegro spirituoso
- Adagio assai espressivo
- Rondeau (Allegretto con brio - scherzando)

Niccolo Paganini, the great violin virtuoso, was taught by his father to play mandolin and guitar. He composed many pieces for violin, for guitar and duets for different instruments. Only a few works for mandolin have been found.
The Sonata Concertata was originally composed for violin and guitar. Because of its melodic line, it is possible to play the part of the violin on the mandolin.
This sonata is an exceptional composition for Paganini's oeuvre: he usually wrote duets in which one of the two instruments is very brilliant and the other merely accompanying. As the name Sonata Concertata already indicates, both instruments are equally important in this work, whether they are in dialogue or in concert.

Sonate D-dur
C. G. Scheidler (ca. 1752 - 1815)
- Allegro
- Romanze
- Rondo

Christian Gottlieb Scheidler was a lutist, bassoon player and a violoncellist at the court of the Kurfürsten von Mainz.
He also had a very good reputation as a guitarist.
The Sonata in D dur was originally for violin and guitar, although the composition has also been published for flute and guitar and for two guitars.


3. Romantic repertory

Ludwig van Beethoven: Andante mit Variationen (9'45")
Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonatine in c (5'10")
Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonatine in C (2'40")
Carlo Munier: Capriccio Spagnuolo (7'00")
Carlo Munier: Carnavale di Venezia (3'10")
Vicenz Arienzo: Capriccio di Concerto (3'10")
Raphaele Calace: Pavane (3'45")
Raphaele Calace: Rondo (3'30")
Raphaele Calace: Tarantella (3'00")
Raphaele Calace: Polonese (7'05")
Friedrich Burgmüller: Nocturne nº 1 (3'30")
Salvatore Leonardi: Souvenir de Sicile (4'20")

Andante mit Variationen
L. van Beethoven (1770 -1827)
- Andante
- Variatie 1 : Allegro
- Variatie 2 : Più lento
- Variatie 3 : Vivo
- Variatie 4 : Allegro
- Variatie 5 : Minore - tranquillo espressivo
- Variatie 6 : Allegretto, Maggiore

It is not often mentioned in Beethoven's biographies that he wrote mandolin music. In Prague, he met Count Christian Christoph Clam Callas, the founder of the Prague Conservatory. The wife of the count, Countess Josephine Clary played the mandolin. It was for her that Beethoven composed his intimate and charming mandolin music:
2 sonatinas, an adagio, and a theme with variations.
In this theme with variations, the mandolin and the guitar are in dialogue. The work demands the most virtuosity of all his mandolin music, and it is also the least sentimental in character. Possibly it was meant to show the virtuoso technique of Countess Clary.

Capriccio Spagnuolo
C. Munier (1860-1911)

Carlo Munier, born in Naples, is renowned as one of the last mandolin virtuoso's from the Romantic period. He studied mandolin, piano, composition and counterpoint at the conservatory in Naples. He wrote more than 300 compositions for mandolin and guitar or piano, displaying the technical abilities of the mandolin player in the period around 1900. In this Cappricio Spagnuolo, Munier uses beautiful melodies, with much Spanish and Italian bravura.


4. Contempory repertory

Brian Israel: Sonatinetta for Mandolin and Guitar (08'00")
Norbert Sprongl: Duo Opus 85/2 (12'45")
Will Ayton: Three movements for Mandolin and Guitar (07'00")
Herbert Baumann: Sonata capricciosa (12'00")
Boudewijn Cox: Gordia (14'00")
Eduardo Angulo De Aires: Antiguos (10'15")
Friedrich Zehm: Drei Bagatellen (07'30")
Stephen Funk Pearson: Mountain Moor (08'15")

Sonatinetta for Mandolin and Guitar
Brian Israel (1951-1986)
- Toccata
- Elegie
- Menuetto

Brian Israel was born in New York in 1951 and studied composition with Karel Husa at Cornell University. Later he became teacher of composition at the Syracuse University School of Music.
His oeuvre is extensive: he composed symphonies as well as concerto's for various instruments and in various styles, receiving many prizes for them.
The Sonatinetta won 1st prize at the "Mandolin competition for new mandolin music" in 1984. Changes of meter are typical for this composition. They are used most frequently throughout the Toccata, but we also find them in the Elegie. They even occur in the Menuetto, where in spite of them, the menuet character is maintained. He based the harmonic structure on the old church modes, as can be heard especially in the middle part. The compositions of Brian Israel are often full of humour, for example in the Menuetto where he uses a quotation from 'Tristan und Isolde', to obtain the normal three-part form of the menuet.

Duo Opus 85/2
Norbert Sprongl (1892-1983)
- Allegro
- Allegro vivace
- Adagio
- Allegro vivace

Norbert Sprongl,, an Austrian composer, studied composition in Graz and Vienna. He wrote 4 symphonies, songs, choral music, and chamber music for violin, lute, guitar, flute and mandolin, 5 piano concerto's, 2 violin concerto's and works for orchestra.
The Duo Opus 85/2 is a romantic composition with modern harmonies in which Sprongl uses the whole sound spectrum of both mandolin and guitar. The duet consists of four parts. First we have two fast parts that sound cheerful, exciting and full of humour. A tender and lyrical slow part follows (Adagio). The last part is again fast and exciting (Allegro vivace).
In the fast movements, Sprongl builds up tension between the two instruments by using sound effects supported by rhythmical patterns going in opposite directions in both instruments. In this way, the composition gains in intensity.

Three Movements for Mandolin and Guitar
Will Ayton (°1948)
- Fantasia
- Song
- Dance

Will Ayton was born in 1948 in Kansu (China). He is the son of a Protestant missionary and had his first education in the U.S. and in Taiwan. He got his musical education at Shenandoa *** Conservatory and the New England Conservatory. Now he lives in Providence, Rhode Island and is music teacher at Roger Williams College.
He plays the viola da gamba in various ensembles. Three Movements for Mandolin and Guitar was composed in the Spring of 1984 and won 2nd prize on the 'Mandolin Competition for new Mandolin music', in 1984. The work was dedicated to the Mair Davis duo. By attending their concerts, the composer acquainted himself with the possibilities of the mandolin and the guitar. The Fantasy demonstrates Ayton's interest in Baroque music. The Song is like an aria
with a melodious upper voice and a basso continuo lower voice. Yet we can also hear the influence of American music; the beginning resembles the song 'The Sound of Silence' by Simon & Garfunkel. Dance is written in the unusual 7/8 meter whereby the work ends brilliantly.

Sonata capricciosa
Herbert Baumann (° 1925)
- Allegro
- Andante sostenuto
- Allegro giocoso

Herbert Baumann was born in 1925 in Berchem. He studied composition with Paul Höffer and Boris Blacher and conducting with Sergiu Celibidache.
Being the musical conductor in various theaters (1947-'53 Deutsches Theater Berlin, 1953-'70 Staatliche Berliner Bühnen Shiller- und Slossparktheater, 1970-'79 Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel) he composed music for more than 500 theatre plays and 40 television plays. In the area of absolute music, he wrote for orchestra and chorus and also built up an extensive chamber music oeuvre.

Boudewijn Cox (° 1965)
- Lento - Presto agitato - Lento
- Adagio
- Allegro vivace

Boudewijn Cox received degrees for guitar, chamber music, harmony and counterpoint at the Lemmensinstituut in Leuven, where he also received a degree for composition (Luc Van Hove) and fugue (Christian Vereecke).
His works have already earned several awards, such as the 'Prometheus Award', the 'B.A.P. Sabam Award', and the 'Youth and Music-Award 1998 for composition'.
His "Onyx" for orchestra received a 'Highly Special Commendation' at the Vienna Modern Masters 6th International Orchestral Recording Award Competition 1997'. Onyx is on CD (VMM CD 3044).
"Prelude", for piano solo, was the set work in the semi-finals of the 'International Music Contest Queen Elisabeth 1999'. (CD Cypres 9607).
Boudewijn Cox has received commissions from ensembles and orchestras; e.g. 'The Beethoven Academie', 'I Solisti del Vento',…
Gordia is a composition in three parts. The first part consists of different moods and tempi. A lyrical guitar melody in the low register is interrupted by the mandolin and is followed by a hectic, very fast passage. After a rhythmically diverse episode, a reminiscence of the beginning is heard. The second part is an ethereal adagio. Then follows the last part: a whirling, brilliant finale in which different playing techniques on both instruments demonstrate a variety of colourful effects.
The title Gordia is a contraction of the words 'chorda' (string) en 'dia' (two).
Gordia is in other words a duo for two string instruments.

De aires antiguos
Eduardo Angulo (° 1954)

Eduardo Angulo was born in 1954 in Puebla, Mexico. He started playing the violin at the age of 7. In 1975 he completed his studies as a violinist and composer at the Conservatory in Den Haag. He has composed for orchestra, chorus and various chamber music ensembles. About De aires antiguos Eduardo Angulo wrote: "warm and pleasing, a mixture of serenity and fantasy, happiness and melancholy. Reality. More than a dialogue this work shows a day-to-day relationship at home. A kind of lullaby is united to a vital Huapango always together, always a continuation of one another. Just like my parents.
To picture this music in an old style, I could not think of anything better than a guitar and a mandolin".

Drei Bagatellen
Friedrich Zehm (° 1923)
- Allegretto
- Adagietto
- Allegro Vivace

The Austrian composer, Friedrich Zehm, started composing for mandolin and guitar at the request of Marga Wilden-Hüsgen. In 1980, he wrote the Sonate für Mandoline und Gitarre and in 1981 the Drei Bagatellen.
Although written in contemporary idiom, Zehm knows how to reach the public by combining the characteristic effects of both instruments with melodious lines and cheerful rhythms.

Mountain Moor
Stephen Funk Pearso

© Copyright Gerda Abts 1993