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Scarlatti: Mandolin Sonatas / Artemandoline

Scarlatti / Artemandoline
Release Date: 10/29/2013 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 94477   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Domenico Scarlatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Artemandoline
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

D. SCARLATTI Mandolin Sonatas: in G, K 91 ; in e, K 81 ; in g, K 88 ; in d, K 90 ; in d, K 77 ; in d, K 89 Artemandoline (period instruments) BRILLIANT 94477 (47: 10)

My, but this new Read more period plucked instrument group has been busy! This is the second disc reviewed this issue, the other being a compendium of works for mandolin entitled Les Galanteries . Here, however, they are tackling one of the well-known sets of pieces originally written for keyboard by Domenico Scarlatti, basing their work on a manuscript from the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal in Paris. In this collection one finds the Sonata in D Minor (K 89) in a version arranged for mandolin and keyboard, rediscovered by scholar-performer Didier Le Roux. I confess not to have been able to collate the original source, but I would take an educated guess that it probably represents some sort of popular arrangement for the plucked instrument. To be sure, Scarlatti does on occasion (as with the works presented here) provide figures for the bass line, but whether or not this meant that it was to indicate a continuo, with the upper line performed on some sort of other treble instrument, is open to interpretation. Artemandoline takes the position that these could be for mandolin and continuo, based upon the theory that in the G-Minor Sonata (K 88) the technical considerations, including rapidly changing dynamics, chords, and short note values, favor a plucked instrument over, say, a violin, which seems to have been the main alternative proposed for these so-called continuo sonatas. They do, however, retreat rather gracefully from the entire issue by concluding that “we merely wish to effect new possibilities of interpretation for these works.” There is merit to this sort of strategy; propose something extraordinary, provide what might be consider largely circumstantial proof, and then sidestep the issue. It relieves them of providing the burden of absolute proof and yet opens the audience’s mind to a possibility that could appear reasonable in some fashion for the original versions.

As for the music itself, these works have been recorded on the keyboard multiple times. Since this is an alternate attempt at interpretation, the comparisons are not relevant, and therefore one must view the pieces as they exist on this recording alone. The results are just fine. Mari Fe Pavón’s playing is crisp and clear, and the forward tone of the continuo as performed by gambist Jean-Daniel Haro and harpsichordist Jean-Christophe Leclère makes the duo an equal partner. I find the recording quality overly vibrant, which perhaps is necessary for the texture, but makes for a brighter sound than one might expect. It is especially effective in the second movement of the G-Major Sonata (K 91) which comes out as a rather lively dance. Here the ornamental trills are nice touches on the mandolin. It also gives a sense of definition, as in the gigue of the E-Minor Sonata (K 81). The third movement gavotte of the G-Minor Sonata seems particularly Spanish sounding, replete with appoggiatura twists that characterize Iberian dance music. The following minuet moves right along, with some rather nice textural contrasts provided by the mandolin and continuo that features the guitar.

In short, the disc is well played and quite entertaining. Although it is not a world-shaking event, the quality of the performances does make one take notice of a rather unusual combination of sounds. Plucked instruments may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and of course purists who are thoroughly familiar with the Scarlatti sonatas in their keyboard guise might find this disc difficult to accept. The bright sound that presents the instruments in a clear and detailed environment might also be a bit grating, but personally I find that, whether or not I actually agree with the premise put forward by Artemandoline, the disc itself has much to offer. It would especially be suitable for aficionados of plucked instruments, and others who wish to have a well-done but singular version in their collections.

FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Violin/Mandolin and Basso Continuo in G minor, K 88/L 36 by Domenico Scarlatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Artemandoline
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century 
Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord in G major, K 91/L 176 by Domenico Scarlatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Artemandoline
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century 
Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord in E minor, K 81/L 271 by Domenico Scarlatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Artemandoline
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century 
Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord in D minor, K 90/L 106 by Domenico Scarlatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Artemandoline
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century 
Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord in D minor, K 89/L 211 by Domenico Scarlatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Artemandoline
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century 
Sonata for Harpsichord in D minor, K 77/L 168 by Domenico Scarlatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Artemandoline
Period: Baroque 

Sound Samples

Sonata in G Major, K.91/L.176/P.11: I. Grave
Sonata in G Major, K.91/L.176/P.11: II. Allegro
Sonata in G Major, K.91/L.176/P.11: III. Grave
Sonata in G Major, K.91/L.176/P.11: IV. Allegro
Solo Sonata in E Minor K.81/L.271/P.13: I. Grave
Solo Sonata in E Minor K.81/L.271/P.13: II. Allegro
Solo Sonata in E Minor K.81/L.271/P.13: III. Grave
Solo Sonata in E Minor K.81/L.271/P.13: IV. Allegro
Sonata in G Minor, K.88/L.36/P.8: I. Grave
Sonata in G Minor, K.88/L.36/P.8: II. Andante moderato
Sonata in G Minor, K.88/L.36/P.8: III. Allegro
Sonata in G Minor, K.88/L.36/P.8: IV. Minuet
Sonata in D Minor, K.90/L.106/P.9: I. Grave
Sonata in D Minor, K.90/L.106/P.9: II. Allegro
Sonata in D Minor, K.90/L.106/P.9: III. Allegro
Sonata in D Minor, K.90/L.106/P.9: IV. Allegro
Sonata in D Minor, K.77/L.168/P.10: I. Moderato e cantabile
Sonata in D Minor, K.77/L.168/P.10: II. Minuetto
Sonata in D Minor, K.89/L.211/P.12: I. Allegro
Sonata in D Minor, K.89/L.211/P.12: II. Grave
Sonata in D Minor, K.89/L.211/P.12: III. Allegro

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 This is how it's done! November 4, 2013 By Oscar O. Veterano See All My Reviews "Artemandoline – “Scarlatti: Mandolin Sonatas” – Brilliant Classics Artemandoline is an internationally acclaimed group of virtuoso instrumentalists led by Mari Fe Pavon (baroque mandolin) and Manuel Munoz (baroque guitar), with Jean-Daniel Haro (viola da gamba) and Jean-Christophe (harpsichord), who perform music from original source manuscripts on authentic period (in this case, 18th century) instruments. The group’s hypothesis for this particular collection of sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti is that each was written for mandolin and basso continuo, rather than violin or harpsichord, as is more commonly supposed. While the very thorough and informative liner notes make their case seem, at a minimum, academically plausible, it is Artemandoline’s lively performance of Scarlatti’s music that lends their idea its real credibility. Their happy mix of skill, virtuosity and research results in a sound that is, at once, well thought out and spontaneous, early music played less for its scholarly or historical interest than for its sheer beauty. ”Scarlatti: Mandoline Sonatas” by Artemandoline can be highly recommended to the general listener and specialist alike and is a welcome reminder that, however “serious” modern audiences may consider it, chamber music was originally intended to be entertainment. Highest possible recommendation 10 out of 10 Oscar O. Veterano" Report Abuse
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