In this album, his third for naïve, Julien Martineau once again spotlights the mandolin: its remarkable repertoire, nobility of character, and natural ability as a partner. Together with pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell, he has devised a programme truly Beethovenian in its inventiveness, honeycombed with influences and associations. Beethoven wears the crown, with four youthful pieces he wrote for this unusual duo combination, and the Allegretto of his Symphony No. 7 in a transcription by Hans Sitt. Gathered round his throne are those inspired by him – his contemporary Hummel, Romantic virtuoso Fritz Kreisler, and two composers of today: Walter Murphy, whose pop music arrangement realized by Bruno Fontaine brings in contrabassist YannRead more Dubost and percussionist José Fillatreau; while Corentin Apparailly responds to Beethoven’s Letter to the Immortal Beloved in a work specially commissioned for this album.
Revisiting Beethoven in the light of later works composed under his influence enables the perfectly matched team of Julien Martineau and Vanessa Benelli Mosell to create a truly audacious, exciting homage, full of dynamic revelations of the unpublished, the un-expected, and the unknown. ‘This programme brings together a lot of repertoire that is extremely virtuosic, but not at all showy,’ says Martineau. ‘Here there’s no way to hide be-hind mere technical brilliance: this recording is above all a chamber music disc, a dialogue of equal voices.’
This album is an exploration of Beethoven's neglected works for mandolin. Some of this other music turns out to be even more of a revelation than the Beethoven mandolin music, itself rare enough. All of the Beethoven works are early, and despite his claimed affection for the instrument, it's hard to hear his voice in these. Midway through, however, the program turns into something else, humorous and very Gallic.
Pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell keeps to a circumspect attitude that gives Martineau room to play around, and the result is an enjoyable romp that does give something of an idea of Beethoven's youthful, lighter side.