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Thread: Goichberg Mandocello Studies, No. 1 and No. 15

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    Default Goichberg Mandocello Studies, No. 1 and No. 15

    Sol Goichberg (1908 – 1978) was a major figure in the history of classical mandolin in the United States. Conservatory trained as a violoncellist, he made his well-received concert debut in New York in the early 1930s as a mandolinist, performing transcriptions of classical music and his own compositions. Goichberg stopped performing in public after a few years for family reasons, but returned in the late 1950s, when he made his famous recordings of Vivaldi mandolin concertos with the New York Philharmonic and led the short-lived MandoArts Quartet. Around this time, he wrote his 100 studies for mandocello, the first 50 of which were published as Volume 1 (Plucked String, Inc., OOP) in the late 1990s. In her review of the volume, Marilyn Mair noted that the “the breadth of the exercises, their musical depth and beauty, and their technical demands are unparalleled … a unique body of original work designed to explore the instrument’s technical and artistic possibilities”.

    I have a long-term project to made videos of a selection of the Goichberg mandocello studies, performed on a liuto cantabile made the late Walt Kuhlman. Here is the first installment, #1 ("Allegretto") and #15 ("Tempo di minuetto").

    Robert A. Margo

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    Default Re: Goichberg Mandocello Studies, No. 1 and No. 15

    Thanks, Mr. Margo, for taking on this project. Your playing is wonderful. An unusual treat to actually hear these pieces. I'm looking forward to more. Thanks, again.

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    Default Re: Goichberg Mandocello Studies, No. 1 and No. 15

    "Thanks, Mr. Margo, for taking on this project ..."

    Hi Joe, thanks for the lovely comment!
    Robert A. Margo

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    Default Re: Goichberg Mandocello Studies, No. 1 and No. 15

    Very nice Bob; I was surprised and frankly disappointed when people were not more enthusiastic about the Goichberg book when I included it at my first CMSA Mandocello workshop a few years back. One comment I heard was that it progressed too quickly into technically difficult exercises; certainly a legitimate concern as some of the players were mandolin players who "picked up" the mandocello for ensemble work. I was a beginner MC player that year so I couldn't argue.
    But I also heard many comments that the work was not musically interesting. I think your performance here (and your continuing efforts) should put that to rest. Fabio has me working from the Bickford book, which has some more basic and accessible studies, but I will have to go back and check out the Goichberg.
    Thank you for the inspiration!
    jim
    Jim

    Dr James S Imhoff
    Boston University
    Oregon Mandolin Orchestra

    1912 Gibson K4 Mandocello; Thomann Mandocello; Stiver F5; ?American? Bowlback; Martin 00016; coming: Dusepo Cittern/liuto cantabile

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    Default Re: Goichberg Mandocello Studies, No. 1 and No. 15

    Very nice playing, Robert -- as Jim has said, that sounds wonderful and is an inspiration. I like the Tempo di minuetto in particular, which is very musical.

    Martin

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    Default Re: Goichberg Mandocello Studies, No. 1 and No. 15

    "Very nice playing, Robert -- as Jim has said, that sounds wonderful and is an inspiration. I like the Tempo di minuetto in particular, which is very musical."

    Thanks Martin, much appreciated!
    Robert A. Margo

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    Default Re: Goichberg Mandocello Studies, No. 1 and No. 15

    "Very nice Bob; I was surprised and frankly disappointed when people were not more enthusiastic about the Goichberg book when I included it at my first CMSA Mandocello workshop a few years back. One comment I heard was that it progressed too quickly into technically difficult exercises; certainly a legitimate concern as some of the players were mandolin players who "picked up" the mandocello for ensemble work. I was a beginner MC player that year so I couldn't argue.
    But I also heard many comments that the work was not musically interesting. I think your performance here (and your continuing efforts) should put that to rest. Fabio has me working from the Bickford book, which has some more basic and accessible studies, but I will have to go back and check out the Goichberg.
    Thank you for the inspiration!"

    Thanks very much, Jim. If only because of the extensive use of tenor clef and treble clef at pitch (and fondness for remote keys), most of Goichberg's mandocello studies are an order of magnitude more difficult than Bickford. And to play them fluently at the proper tempos, IMHO, one needs to have a rapid command of the entire fingerboard, especially on the A string, as well as a flexible right hand. In short, they are not for beginners and not even really intermediate level. At the same time, however, they are not "concert etudes" in the usual sense (I am keeping an open mind whether one could assemble a selection of 4-6 and perform them as a set, in concert), which limits their practical use. I think to understand why Goichberg wrote them, one must keep in mind that he had little or no patience, as he put it in the Introduction to his op. 6, with the "'lower depths, of the Polka, Mazurka, and Jazz era" of mandolin-family music. He was aiming, I think, towards players who wanted to emulate what he was doing in the MandoArts quartet -- Haydn, etc. string quartets, arrangements of Debussy, Scarlatti, Turina, and the like.
    Robert A. Margo

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    Default Re: Goichberg Mandocello Studies, No. 1 and No. 15

    Addendum: some minor corrections to errata in my original post (1) Goichberg's Vivaldi recordings were made with the New York Sinfonietta, under the direction of Max Goberman (2) it is the MandoArt Quartet (3) Marilynn Mair wrote the review of the mandocello studies. Apologies.
    Robert A. Margo

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