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Thread: Domenico Scarlatti mandolin compositions?

  1. #1
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    Default Domenico Scarlatti mandolin compositions?

    I found this you tube suggesting D Scarlatti may have written specifically for violin or even possibly mandolin.
    While I have my doubt its not that unreasonable of a notion.

    I don't know when these particular sonatas were written but he did spend much of his later life in Spain and Portugal, where perhaps plucked string instrument music was more popular.

    At any rate a mandolin is closer to a harpsichord than a piano in timbre to my ear.

    I may take a stab at one of these if I can find the sheet music, even if it really isn't intentional mandolin music.

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    Default Re: Domenico Scarlatti mandolin compositions?

    The notes on YouTube offer some explanation about these pieces and the theory they may have been written for mandolin.

    “In Domenico Scarlatti’s vast output of 555 keyboard sonatas, there are a small number of works that are especially interesting to musicologists because of characteristics such as figured bass, three- or four-movement structure, and distinctive melodic lines that are particularly appropriate for a high-pitched solo instrument. Some experts believe that these works were written for the violin; on this recording, after meticulous research and the discovery of an important new manuscript at the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal in Paris, the members of Artemandoline propose the fascinating theory that the sonatas may have been composed for the mandolin. Featuring works ranging from the smaller-scale K77 to the ambitious and technically demanding K88 – which is extremely well suited to the mandolin thanks to its four-part chords and dynamic nuances – this disc offers a radical reinterpretation of this captivating music.”

    The scores are available on IMSLP.
    Pava S/N 21
    Calace Bowlback

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    Default Re: Domenico Scarlatti mandolin compositions?

    Right but its only a theory.
    If a specific instrument is not noted for most of the compositions (assumed harpsichord here), then he just wrote it for melody and bass, with the intention that any keyboard or instrument pairing would work (within reason).
    If Scarlatti really loved the particular voice of the mandolin I would think he would have indicated that, if he was just writing for some favored court player who was a mandolinist that is more likely, but again I would expect some dedication or note about that, but its also possible a public verbal indication was sufficient at the time.
    My guess is they were written for harpsichord but just happen to work really well on the mandolin as the music was probably influenced by Iberian local popular secular music Scarlatti may have encountered.
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    Default Re: Domenico Scarlatti mandolin compositions?

    We've had a couple of discussions of this back in 2015, and at that time I also tried my hand (more or less successfully) on recording movements from K.77, K.83, K.88, K.89 and K.90 on mandolin.

    See discussions in these two threads:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-per-Mandolino
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-two-Mandolins

    And my old recordings in these (the first is probably the more successful attempt):

    K.83, K.88 and K.90 (minuets only): https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-90-K-88-K-83)
    K.89 (complete but in hindsight a bit pedestrian): https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...dolino-e-basso
    K.77 (minuet only): https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...n-D-Minor-K-77

    The annotations on a recent commercial mandolin edition (by Productions d'Oz) say:

    "Discovered at the library "Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal de Paris" 300 years after it was written, the manuscript entitled "Sonatina per mandoline e cembalo" corresponds to the first movement of the sonata K89 by Domenico Scarlatti. It is clear that Scarlatti intended to use the mandolin for these sonatas with the markings in the score specifying a "figured bass".

    These masterpieces are markedly different, in terms of their character and their form, from Scarlatti's classical sonatas for solo harpsichord. They show off the richness of the mandolin to its full: light, expressive, voluble and masterful.

    The pieces also reveal the Italian School's interest in this small instrument during the 18th century; which descended from the lute and was also readily adopted by the European aristocracy.
    "

    Martin

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    Default Re: Domenico Scarlatti mandolin compositions?

    I did enjoy your versions

    "six of Scarlatti's sonatas written for melody instrument and basso rather than for keyboard -- a recent commercial edition considers that all six were intended by the composer to be played on mandolin, and they certainly sit very nicely on that instrument."

    again that melody instrument could be anything, violin, flute or other melody wind and reed instruments, lute, guitar (what ever form it was in at the time) and yes mandolin.

    arguably the mandolin was in its "modern" form at that time and so would have been readily available to try things out on

    I'm not saying that it is impossible he would have written for mandolin, I also think most of the composition's were for patronage so tying these pieces to particular patron may help fortify or diminish the consideration they were intended for mandolin on the melody.
    My YouTube Channel

    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

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  11. #6

    Default Re: Domenico Scarlatti mandolin compositions?

    Late to this party, but back in 2013, I compiled a reference document on "classical" mandolin for distribution when I occasionally lecture on mandolin for classical guitar programs. I feel obliged to update it every couple years. My little entry for Scarlatti in a section on "major composers" to have written for mandolin mostly echoes what's discussed above:

    Scarlatti, Domenico (1685–1757): multi-movement sonata for soprano instrument with "basso numerato," K 89, the first movement named "Sonatina per mandolino, e cimbalo" by one manuscript source in a Paris collection; as a result, all similar multi-movement sonatas with figured bass—K 81, 88, 89, 90, and 91—are popularly interpreted on mandolin relatives with basso continuo (and more rarely K 73, 77, and 78 simply by virtue of having multiple movements).

    Of course, figured bass implies an accompanied soprano instrument, accompaniment possibly by harpsichord. As you've alluded, that soprano instrument is only named in association with one movement of one of those five sonatas.

    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    arguably the mandolin was in its "modern" form at that time and so would have been readily available to try things out on
    It's much more common to play these on the much more lute-like "Baroque" form of the instrument that was popular (or at least still in use) ca. 1600s–1790s. That, of course, was five to six courses (four in very early pieces) of paired gut strings tied to a fixed bridge, tuned wholly or mostly in fourths [g-]b-e'-a'-d''-g'', and likely played punteado (i.e., finger style), at least for the duration of music in a baroque aesthetic (although most modern mandolinists use a quill plectrum even though there's no iconographic support for doing so).

    I have lots of mandolin recordings of several of these. For my money, the best wholly dedicated to "complete" sets (K 77, 81, 88, 89, 90, and 91) of Scarlatti on mandolin are:

    • Artemandoline (Mari Fe Pavón, mandolino). 2013. Domenico Scarlatti: Mandolin Sonatas. Brilliant Classics, 94477.
    • Duo Capriccioso (Gertrud Tröster [now using her birth name, Weyhofen], mandolino). 1997. Domenico Scarlatti: Sei Sonate per Mandolino e Chitarra (Duo Capriccioso, Vol.4). Thorofon, CTH 2325.


    Honorable mentions for scattering one or several of Scarlatti's "mandolin" sonatas among (1) Scarlatti's sonatas obviously intended for solo harpsichord or (2) chamber music by other composers: Ugo Orlandi (using a reproduction of Stradivari's tiny, five-course "mandolino coristo" for one of the sonatas [other mandolins for other sonatas] and is nearly "complete" in only omitting K 77 on a 2-CD set mostly given to harpsichord solos performed by Sergio Vartolo), Tragicomedia (just because it's Paul O'Dette on mandolino), Mauro Squillante (a "complete" set in, again, only omitting K 77 and interspersing several sonatas for solo harpsichord played by Raffaele Vrenna . . . and Squillante makes fine work of this music), and Dorina Frati (she used an original 18th-c. mandolino napoletano by Fabricatore ["modern" in passing wire strings over a floating bridge, played with a quill plectrum, and tuned in fifths], which is certainly interesting, but my personal taste favors gut in this context. This album, Mandolin in the Capitals of Europe, does feature some excellent interpretations of early works for Neapolitan mandolin; her take on Gervasio is particularly fiery). I have several more (including at least a dozen commercially released recordings of K 89 using some form of mandolin). When a composer of Scarlatti's stature can even tenuously be associated with mandolin, mandolin devotees get fired up.
    Last edited by Eugene; Feb-12-2024 at 10:46am.

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  13. #7

    Default Re: Domenico Scarlatti mandolin compositions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Jonas View Post
    We've had a couple of discussions of this back in 2015, and at that time I also tried my hand (more or less successfully) on recording movements from K.77, K.83, K.88, K.89 and K.90 on mandolin.

    See discussions in these two threads:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-per-Mandolino
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-two-Mandolins
    Those discussions happened during my occasional hiatus . . . es from the Cafe. Too bad. I would have enjoyed the chat there.

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  15. #8

    Default Re: Domenico Scarlatti mandolin compositions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Coronado View Post
    . . . after meticulous research and the discovery of an important new manuscript at the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal in Paris, the members of Artemandoline propose the fascinating theory that the sonatas may have been composed for the mandolin.
    I'm a huge fan of Artemandoline's recordings, but note that (1) they weren't the "dicoverers" of the Paris manuscript (I'm not certain that I'm recalling correctly, but I believe that credit belongs to Jean-Paul Bazin) and (2) they certainly weren't the first to propose this particular "fascinating theory," even emulating the Trösters in selecting K 77 from among the multi-movement sonatas without figured bass.

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