Sebastiaan De Grebber | La voce del Mandolino

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Classical: Romantic Era Classical: Baroque Moods: Instrumental
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La voce del Mandolino

by Sebastiaan De Grebber

Classical music for mandolin solo from the Baroque era and the Romantic era and concluding with contemporary music. This album, once again, displays the beauty and versatility of the mandolin as a classical instrument with his own unique voice.
Genre: Classical: Romantic Era
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Victor Kioulaphides: Sweelinck Variations
6:21 $0.99
2. J.S. Bach: Violin Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006: I. Preludio (Arr. for Mandolin)
4:17 $0.99
3. Victor Kioulaphides: Suite for Ali: I. Prelude
1:52 $0.99
4. Victor Kioulaphides: Suite for Ali: II. Allemande
2:00 $0.99
5. Victor Kioulaphides: Suite for Ali: III. Courante
1:46 $0.99
6. Victor Kioulaphides: Suite for Ali: IV. Sarabande
2:26 $0.99
7. Victor Kioulaphides: Suite for Ali: V. Gigue
1:20 $0.99
8. Demetrius Dounis: Rêve Oriental
7:05 $0.99
9. Raffaele Calace: Gran Preludio, Op. 175
6:58 $0.99
10. Raffaele Calace: Preludio X, Op. 112
5:46 $0.99
11. Giovanni Giovale: Fantasia - Chi Me Frena
4:32 $0.99
12. Simeon ten Holt: Capriccio
9:25 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

The repertoire for mandolin solo is expanding rapidly both in quantity and in quality these days. This is due to the research in rediscovering old repertoire, the creative adaptation of music for other instruments and last but not least, the inspiration many mandolinists give to contemporary composers.
For me, this recording is a platform to display my greatest passion and to show the many possibilities of the voice of the mandolin in this solo repertoire.
The Fantasia by Giovale is one of those rediscoveries of old repertoire, since it is not a piece that is printed nor is it frequently played. The music by Bach is an obvious source for many transcriptions for mandolin but the minimalistic Capriccio by the Dutch composer ten Holt has been a genuine revelation for me.
Equally important for the development of the mandolin and its future is the creation of new compositions such as the Sweelinck Variations by Kioulaphides.
The works by Calace are naturally a must on any mandolin solo programme.

In other words, the mandolin has a lot to show for itself!
Because of the successes of my previous CD ‘Fantasia Romantica’, the many mandolin videos I have put online, as well as the encouraging critics I have received after concerts, I embarked upon a new project: ‘La voce del mandolino’.

Sebastiaan de Grebber, Zwolle, May 2016

About the composers:

Victor Kioulaphides
Victor Kioulaphides was born in Athens, Greece, in 1961 and moved to New York in 1979 to study the double bass and composition at the renowned Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music with Giampaolo Bracali and Ludmila Ulehla. As a composer he has written operas, songs and numerous works for chamber orchestras, choirs and solo instruments. This led to many national and international performances such as Carnegie Recital Hall, Berklee College of Music and being honoured with the Pablo Casals Award and the Harold Bauer Award. Besides being musically active as a bassist
(a.o. Composers Conference Ensemble, Nashville Symphony Orchestra) he also plays the mandolin and has a keen interest in the instrument and its historical background. This reflects in his main activity: composing music. His first piece for mandolin solo is ‘Diferencias’ (2002). Since then, because of the great international appreciation of his music, his oeuvre for mandolin in different formations has vastly expanded. In his compositions he displays his idiomatic writing and his versatile compositional skills but most of all his ingenuity in writing beautiful music for the mandolin.

In the ‘Sweelinck Variations’ for mandolin-solo, written for and dedicated to de Grebber, Kioulaphides used the same theme Sweelinck used for his famous six variations on ‘Mein junges Leben hat ein End' (My young life is nearing its end).

Mein junges Leben hat ein End',
Mein Freude und auch mein Leyd.
Mein arme Seele soll behend,
Scheiden von mein Leib.
Mein Leben kann nicht lenger stehn,
's Ist schwach, fürwar, es muss vergehn,
Es fehrt dahin mein Leyd.

In this German folksong, a man feels the end of his life approaching even though he is still young. He takes his leave from the world in which he has committed many sins, and commends his wife and children to God's protection.

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Sweelinck (1562-1621)was born in Deventer, the Netherlands. Soon after Sweelinck's birth, the family moved to Amsterdam, where from about 1564, his father Peter Swybbertszoon served as organist of the Oude Kerk. Jan Pieterszoon must have received first lessons in music from his father. In 1577 [or 1580?], four years after his father died, he is said to have followed in his father’s footsteps as the organist of the Oude Kerk at the age of only 15 years old.
It is reported that this church was regularly overcrowded when Sweelinck played. Sweelinck’s organ compositions comprise numerous variations over sacral and secular songs as well as choral-free music as ricercari, as if the composer is searching or navigating his way through the music while improvising.
This style is very much applied on the German folksong Sweelinck used for his original six variations.

Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) unfortunately did not compose for mandolin. In fact, the mandolin had not yet developed into the modern plectrum-played instrument tuned in fifths as we know it today. Perhaps its forerunner, the mandolino, strung with double gut strings (regarded today as the ancestor of the mandolin family), would have been familiar to Bach as it was to his contemporaries and colleagues Georg Friedrich Händel (1685-1759) and Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741). Besides the famous mandolin concertos by Vivaldi, both men composed arias in which the mandolino played the accompaniment. Nowadays Bach’s compositions are frequently transcribed, since they belong to the most beautiful music of the Baroque period. His Suites, Sonatas and Partitas for solo instruments work surprisingly well on plucked instruments such as the harp, guitar and mandolin.
As the name suggests, ‘Suite for Ali’ was written for Alison Stephens by Victor Kioulaphides in 2009. The piece was composed as a dedication after Alison fully recovered from cancer in that same year. Alison performed the piece both on mandola and mandolin and the fourth movement, the Sarabande, was one of her favourites. Also that year Alison invited Sebastiaan to give a masterclass at the Trinity College in London. During their meeting exciting plans for future collaborations were made. Unfortunately the disease returned in 2010 and made us lose a great musician and Britain’s foremost mandolinist. Having connected with her personally and musically and seeing her ill fate, this composition has a deeper meaning to me: It emphasises the importance and need of counterpoints to the tragedies in life such as art, beautiful music.

Demetrius Dounis
Demetrius Constantine (ca.1886-1954) was born in Athens, Greece. From an early age he played both the mandolin and the violin. He studied the latter with František Ondříček in Vienna. Besides studying music he also earned his medical degree in Vienna. He would combine these two studies in his early medical career: treating musicians from professional symphony orchestras. This work led him to a thorough study of violin technique and consequently he wrote many treatises on this matter. Therefore in the world of music nowadays he is mostly know as a great violin pedagogue.
Besides his career as a violinist, he was internationally known as a mandolin-virtuoso around 1900. There are reports of him giving concerts all over the Europe and doing American tours on a regular basis as he established himself in the United States after World War I. Since he obviously knew the violin repertoire very well, he played many
of the famous and challenging violin compositions on the mandolin.
Besides adapting music, his repertoire also included concert pieces for mandolin such as Preludio I by Raffaele Calace (1863-1934) and his own compositions such as Lamentazione. His successful concerts were recognised by Neapolitan maestri Carlo Munier (who awarded him the 1st Prize at the Cremona Mandolin Contest ca. 1910) and Raffaele Calace and so a friendship between Calace and Dounis flourished. In 1910, this resulted in Calace dedicating his famous Preludio II to Dounis. In 1911, Dounis then dedicated his Reve Oriental to Calace’s daughter, Maria Calace (1892-1967).

Raffaele Calace
Raffaele Calace (1863-1934) was born in Naples and was the son of Antonio Calace, a celebrated musical instrument maker. Besides being an apprentice at his father’s workshop and the successor to the family business, he turned out to be very talented in playing the mandolin and liuto cantibile and became one of the most famous mandolin virtuosi of his time. After his studies at the Music College of Naples, he made it his mission to elevate the mandolin globally to the highest level. Raffaele Calace hoped to achieve this by giving concerts throughout Europe and even further – in Japan, for example where he performed before the Emperor and his family. Besides being a performer, he also wrote about 200 compositions for his beloved instrument.
Most of these works, either written as solos or in combination with other instruments, belong to the best and most beautiful music ever written for the mandolin, demanding a highly developed technique and musical understanding of the performer.
Just like Dounis, Raffaele Calace had a large national and international network of colleague mandolinists and other musicians. As his number of concerts, prizes, publishing and jury appearances on competitions grew, so did his fame and network. In 1920, Calace was one of the judges at the mandolin competition in Milan. Frans de Groodt (1892-1988), one of Silvio Ranieri’s best students, won this competition leaving his rivals far behind and shortly after, Calace dedicated his Preludio X to him.

Giovanni Giovale
In Sicily, around 1900, there were many amateurs and professionals capable of astonishing an audience with their musical capabilities. These performers learned the art of music in their own guild, neighbourhood or club and played for occasional listeners rather than in great concert halls. They were sometimes named ‘orecchisti’ because they played by ear only and without sheet music. Giovale (1885-1949) was brought up in this cultural background and within a short time he became one of the greatest. Giovale began learning to play mandolin at 10 years old. It is said he was captured by the beauty of the instrument after attending one of the short concerts performed at a barbershop in Via Plebiscito (Sicily – Catania) around closing time. Later on, he learnt playing banjo, guitar and also violin at the boarding school of Cruciferi Street. As a violinist, he became a member of the Orchestra of Bellini Theatre. Although a multi-instrumentalist, Giovale preferred the mandolin above all.
During his musical career he played before and/or collaborated with many great maestri such as composer Pietro Mascagni, director Leopoldo Mugnone and tenor Dino Borgioli; all were amazed by his musical skills on the mandolin. Borgioli even invited Giovale to go on a tour with him to Spain. His fame as a musician and his love for travelling brought him all over the world: besides Spain, he also went to Austria, England, Africa, and the United States. From 1926 to 1929 he resided in New York. During this period he attained a high reputation for his concerts and recordings.
His repertoire included works by Mozart, Grieg, Bellini, Verdi, Mendelssohn, Mascagni and many works of his own. He wrote many works for mandolin, mostly polkas, waltzes and mazurkas. Many recordings have survived but his sheet music is hard to find. His cultural background is reflected in his style of playing as well as his way of composing: famous melodies such as ‘Chi me frena’ from Donizetti’s Opera ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ were used by adding resourceful accompaniments and beautiful variations.

Simeon ten Holt
At the age of twelve Simeon ten Holt (1923-2012) started studying the piano and composition with Jacob van Domselaer. In 1949 he travelled to Paris where he would study at the ‘École Normale de Musique de Paris’ with Arthur Honegger and Darius Milhaud. Too stubborn to conform himself to strict composing rules he went on his way and eventually returned to his hometown Bergen in 1954, where he took residence in an abandoned WWII bunker. There he would continue his personal journey in search of his own style.
On this voyage, particularly looking for balance between tonality and atonality, Ten Holt writes a series of works in the late fifties where his compositional aspirations start to take shape. In the seventies, years of struggling with atonality and serialism come to an end when, one particular evening, Ten Holt leaves his desk and starts improvising and composing at the piano. This resulted in a romantic theme that over a period of five years would develop into his world-renowned ‘Canto Ostinato’ 1976-79.
This piece marks the finding of own his musical language and in this style he would later compose much more music, mainly for keyboard instruments.
Among his final works are Méandres for 4 piano’s (1997), Soloduiveldans IV for piano solo (1998) and Capriccio for violin solo (1999).

“Although Simeon ten Holt’s music is often categorized under the Minimal Music banner, the question is whether this characterization captures the true nature of his composing talent. Although the minimalist inspiration is undoubtedly present in all of his piano compositions, the distinctive feature is not so much the rhythmic and tonal structure which is so typical for this style, but much more the evolutionary space which his music actually creates for the players performing his music.”

R.H. Tollefsen & P. Dirksen: ‘Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck’, Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy 2001
S. Stanley: New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians Vol.8, Macmillan Publ. Ltd, London 1980
Chr. K. Biebricher, IMSLP, Göttingen, März 2002
Musica Moderna, Calace, Naples, May-December 1910
P.J. Bone: The Guitar and Mandolin, Schott, London 1972
P. Sparks: The Classical Mandolin, Oxford University Press, U.K. 2003
S. Privitera, C. Bisiani: La Provincia di Catania, Catania April 2001
Ernst Vermeulen: Muziek zonder zwaarte, Ons Erfdeel – Jaargang 45, Belgium 2001
Quote on Ten Holt: website, 2016
The Grove Concise Dictionary of Music, London 1988

About the performer:

Sebastiaan de Grebber
Sebastiaan de Grebber (1980) is a Dutch mandolinist. At the age of eight he started to play the mandolin. He was taught by Alex Timmerman at the Centre for Arts education
‘The Muzerie’ in his hometown Zwolle (The Netherlands).
In 1996 he attended the Conservatory at the Constantijn Huygens ‘College of the Arts’ to study music education and the mandolin professionally with Alex Timmerman. During these next years de Grebber devoted all of his time to music. Willing to learn more about the mandolin and different approaches to the instrument he participated in several international mandolin courses.

After graduating in music education in 2001 and receiving his Bachelor Degree for mandolin in 2002 he focused on a future career as a professional mandolinist.
Even though already active in the field, giving concerts in The Netherlands as well as in other European countries (Sweden, Denmark, England, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and France), de Grebber was still eager to advance. Therefore he applied to the Master Degree study in 2003 and continued his mandolin studies at the highest level with Alex Timmerman at the Messiaen Academie in Zwolle and with the well-known Italian mandolinist Ugo Orlandi at the Conservatorio ‘C. Pollini’ in Padova, Italy.
On 27 May 2005 de Grebber gave his final recital at the Messiaen Academie. The jury board, which also included Maestro Ugo Orlandi, was unanimous and granted him the highest possible predicate: Master of Music with Distinction (cum laude).
Besides being a true ambassador of the virtuosic and original Italian mandolin repertoire of the 20th Century, de Grebber’s interest also lies in modern music.
By portraying the versatility of the mandolin he wishes to inspire contemporary composers to write for the instrument in different formations. This already led to several new works such as the dedications Rhapsody for mandolin and piano (2004) by Kioulaphides, The Gray Wolf (2006) for solo mandolin and Dioses Aztecas for mandolin and piano (2006) by John Craton and more to come. In August 2006 de Grebber was awarded first prize at the Amsterdam Uitmarkt Chamber Music Concours. Momentarily Sebastiaan de Grebber teaches music education at the ArtEZ Conservatory in Zwolle, is the concertmaster of ‘HET Consort’, is the director of the ‘Kamper Mandoline en Gitaar Orkest’ and gives mandolin solo recitals and concerts with Eva van den Dool (piano).



to write a review

Augusto Mazzoli

The sublime beauty of the mandolin
Sebastiaan De Grebber succeeds in making us contemplate the most pure sounds of the mandolin language by taking us in a musical journey through carefully selected pieces beautifully performed. This album is a great contribution to the mandolin world and to the art of music in general.