• New Music - O sole mio, Mandolin Concertos & Songs, by Julien Martineau

    O sole mio: Mandolin Concertos & Songs, by Julien Martineau

    PARIS — Nave Records has announced a September 29 release for Julien Martineau's new recording, O sole mio: Mandolin Concertos & Songs.

    On the project Martineau is joined by the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse conducted by Wilson Ng. Guests performers include Florian Sempey, Anna Schivazappa, Yann Dubost, Philippe Mouratoglou and Eric Franceries.

    Track Listing

    • Vivaldi - Concerto Per 2 Mandolini, Archi E Organo RV 532 I. Allegro
    • Vivaldi - Concerto Per 2 Mandolini, Archi E Organo RV 532 II. Andante
    • Vivaldi - Concerto Per 2 Mandolini, Archi E Organo RV 532 III. Allegro
    • Di Capua, Mazzucchi, Capurro - O Sole Mio
    • Valente, Tagliaferri - Passione
    • Calace - Concerto N1 Op. 113 I. Marziale
    • Calace - Concerto N1 Op. 113 II. Largo Tranquillo
    • Calace - Concerto N1 Op. 113 III. Rondo
    • Paganini - Sonata Per Rovene MS 14 Introduzione, Largo Andante Sostenuto
    • Paganini - Sonata Per Rovene MS 14 Andantino Brillante
    • Paganini - Serenata MS 16 Larghetto
    • Paganini - Serenata MS 16 Andantino
    • Mozart - Don Giovanni 16. Canzonetta
    • Hummel - Concerto En Sol Majeur S 28 I. Allegro Moderato E Grazioso
    • Hummel - Concerto En Sol Majeur S 28 II. Andante Con Variazioni
    • Hummel - Concerto En Sol Majeur S 28 III. Rondo

    Interview by Pierre-Yves Lascar from the Liner Notes

    With this concerto programme, you explore two centuries of music, from antonio vivaldi to raffaele Calace, taking in niccol paganini and johann nepomuk hummel. what features of the mandolin do you want to unveil here?

    With every album I always try to come up with a programme that reconciles content and form. The content is the repertoire. We are fortunate to have a wonderful body of writing for the mandolin, which is still little explored. For every recording I am able to choose just those pieces that I consider to be chef-d'uvre, whereas a pianist or a violinist often has to think twice about venturing into territories served up by an already plethoric discography: that is real freedom. The form is what the works themselves provide. As I would with a concert, what I aim to do here is to invent a menu with both obvious and surprising connections between composers and eras. The programme itself becomes a minor creation.

    I also hope to demonstrate that the mandolin can sing all the emotions, from the most simple, as in Neapolitan songs, to the most profound, as in the second movement of Calace's "Concerto No. 1."

    One generally tends to associate the mandolin with somewhat "solitary" performance, or with modest chamber ensembles. would you like to show that the mandolin is also capable of working with a large orchestra, like the violin or the piano?

    The prime quality of the three concertos included here is to find a natural accommodation of the mandolin to the orchestra, while allowing it all the space needed to express itself. The conductor obviously has a key role to play, as does sound engineering, which must always balance the sonority of the instrument to the other performers, ever mindful of the need for textural transparency. I have been working this way for some years, with the lutenist Jean-Luc Joie and the electronics engineer Sebastien Ferger. I have to say the results are absolutely remarkable.

    I have also dreamed of recording with a symphony orchestra like the Orchestre national du Capitole of Toulouse, ever since I heard that memorable Dvork Concerto by Rostropovich and Michel Plasson, long ago at the Halle aux Grains in Toulouse. For the first time on disc, the mandolin here dialogues with an institutional symphony orchestra - a true privilege for me! My other top daydream? To make a musical film with Wim Wenders!

    Back with your "Latin Paradise" you offered four especially beguiling pieces by the neapolitan composer raffaele Calace (1863-1934) and now you are giving us a new opportunity to discover one of his concertos. can you remind us of where Calace sits in the history of the mandolin?

    In my opinion, Raffaele Calace is the central figure in the history of the mandolin, a kind of founding father of the instrument. Before Calace, the mandolin offered a charming repertoire, but devoid of the heroic dimension that we find with scores for the piano or the violin. Calace finally provided it, while at the same time developing a diabolical level of virtuosity. Encouraged by these new means of expression, mandolin performances took on a whole new dimension. In addition to their intrinsic virtuosity, Calace's compositions are distinguished by their melodic invention, evident on first hearing: the Second Concerto, which I recorded with Rinaldo Alessandrini (Come una volta, Nave V 5455) is unquestionably the best illustration of this.

    Was Calace to the mandolin what Paganini was to the violin?

    There are major similarities between the two composers, but while Calace pursued a discreet career as a player, Paganini performed in the greatest concert halls of Europe. Calace made his living from his work as a mandolin luthier and from the lessons he gave, rather than from his fees. I wanted to record the two works by Paganini for the most prosaic of reasons: I really love them! Right from the outset of this project I considered them to be landmarks on this musical journey. Starting with Italy and Vivaldi, the Neapolitan song and its characteristic romanticism lead through to Calace, then Paganini whose classical style takes us to the Austria of Mozart and Hummel.

    The Calace's Concerto, which you readily acknowledge as one of the most difficult compositions in the mandolin repertoire, was originally conceived with a piano accompaniment. You asked the composer Thibault Perrine (born 1979) to write an orchestral version, which you premiered in concert in Toulouse in March 2022. Which road did you ask Thibault Perrine to purse for this work?

    Thibault Perrine is without question one of our best orchestrators: I gave him carte blanche! The same went for "Concerto No. 2," which Yann Ollivo orchestrated, also at my request. But clearly Calace's First Concerto needed to exist in orchestral form. Why didn't the composer himself not orchestrate it? There are various hypotheses. The first is a lack of time or motivation, since Calace didn't have access to a symphony orchestra easily, especially to work on a new piece. But an even more likely hypothesis is that orchestration requires a very specific kind of musical knowledge that the Neapolitan had never learned, even though he had studied music, composition, counterpoint and harmony at the Naples Conservatoire.

    You commission orchestrations, you inspire new works. Do you dream of becoming the Rampal or the Rostropovich of the mandolin, and seeing a stream of new masterpieces flow towards you from all over the world?

    The comparison with Jean-Pierre Rampal or Slava Rostropovich can only make the music lover in me dream. However, we must remain lucid: our era offers less room for "musiques savantes" than forty years ago, the fault according, as Olivier Babeau puts it, of the tyranny of entertainment. On the other hand, while the mandolin is at a lesser stage of development than the flute or the cello, the passion which drove Rostropovich and Rampal, the creations they inspired, which have since become staples, remain naturally a model; to follow in their footsteps is truly inspiring.

    This album ends with Hummel's elegant concerto, a paragon of the early 19th-century classical style; whose rondo you have written a cadenza for, which astonishingly at times edges on an aesthetic closer to the mid-19thcentury. can you give us an insight into your approach, as a performer, to this moment where the soloist can finally shine?

    I've always looked forward with relish to cadenzas in concertos, especially for the violin. Just a few days ago I was listening to some cadenzas composed by the wonderful Maria Dueas for Beethoven's Violin Concerto. One of my favourite cadenzas, rarely played, is the one that Fritz Kreisler wrote for the Brahms Violin Concerto, which I first heard in the hands of Christian Ferras. For the Hummel Concerto, I wanted a somewhat similar cadenza, with a truly dramatic feel, and in it I pick up the magnificent theme in E Minor from the first movement.

    Up to the works of Hummel - the great Austrian composer and pianist of the early 19th century, who in 1799 wrote his concerto for an Italian from the Province of Brescia (Bartolomeo Bortolazzi) - your programme dreams of Italy and could even be named "Latin Paradise 2." Does the mandolin only evoke the sun to you?

    The tone of the mandolin really does have a sunny side, especially in the tremolo passages. This doesn't preclude nostalgia or sorrow, but there is something about this sonority that is reminiscent of a convertible escapade on a sunny coastal road. But, at times, the sun darkens...

    Additional Information

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Bob Clark's Avatar
      Bob Clark -
      Just incredible! Such musicianship, tone and taste. This approaches perfection.
    1. Paul Statman's Avatar
      Paul Statman -
      Beautiful music. I second what Bob posted here.
    1. cayuga red's Avatar
      cayuga red -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul Statman View Post
      Beautiful music. I second what Bob posted here.
      Good tune.