1. Pavans and Galiards
William Byrd (Arr. by Oliver Kälberer)
Although plucked strings of various sorts were popular during the Renaissance and Baroque eras, “Pavans and Galiards” (Byrd’s spelling) is not an original work for mandolin ensemble but rather an arrangement by Oliver Kälberer of four short works by the 16th century British composer William Byrd. A pavan was a slow, stately dance while the galliard was more difficult and vigorous in execution. (It is said that Elizabeth I danced a galliard each morning for exercise.) The rapid decay of the mandolin mimics the attack and sound of the keyboard instrument for which the pieces were originally composed while enhancing the polyphonic texture.
2. Music for Play
Claudio Mandonico (1978)
Europe is fertile ground for new compositions for mandolin orchestra. Claudio Mandonico, who is musical director of the “Orchestra di Mandoline e Chitarre Citta di Brescia,” is a leading contemporary composer for plucked strings. “Music for Play” is a powerful three movement (“Entrata,” “Canzona,” and a final, pulsating “Ritmico”) suite that captures the verve of popular music while retaining the formal clarity of a “concerto for orchestra.”
3. Song of Japanese Autumn
Yasuo Kuwahara (1994)
Japan, like Germany, Italy, and the United States, has a long history of involvement with the mandolin. Yasuo Kuwahara (1946-2003) was one of Japan’s most famous players during the latter half of the twentieth century. A prolific composer for plucked strings, his works include numerous pieces for solo mandolin, mandolin duo, guitar and mandolin, and various mandolin ensembles. “Song of Japanese Autumn” is Kuwahara’s best-known composition. Frequently performed and recorded, it is a large scale romantic work for mandolin orchestra, with soaring melodies, lush harmony, shifting tempos and rhythms, and a substantial cadenza at the conclusion, performed by Joshua Bell.
4. Song for My Father
Clarice Assad (2004)
Clarice Assad is a pianist, vocalist, and composer currently living in New York City. She received her training in composition from Roosevelt University and the University of Michigan. Ms. Assad’s compositions include works for solo and duo guitar, piano, voice, and orchestra, including a violin concerto commissioned and recorded by Nadja Salerno-Sonnerberg. Her father, Sergio Assad, and her uncle, Odair Assad, perform as the world famous classical guitar “Duo Assad.” Dedicated to Sergio Assad, “Song for My Father” is an infectious blend of Brazilian rhythms and harmonies, with a beautiful, haunting core melody. Commissioned for the Providence Mandolin Orchestra by Robert Margo, “Song for My Father” receives its world premiere recording here.
5. Concierto de Media Luna
José Luis Barroso Plaza (1999)
“Concierto de Media Luna” by José Luis Barroso Plaza won first prize in the “Jose Maria Abella” contest for plucked string composition in Vila-Real, Spain. Originally written for an ensemble of Spanish bandurrias and related instruments, the Concierto translates well to the idiom of the American mandolin orchestra. The slow second movement features a gorgeous melody and harmony and is bracketed by dramatically charged first and third movements that vividly evoke the colors and rhythms of flamenco.