The Berkeley Mandolin Ensemble was a classical mandolin ensemble. The ensemble travelled to Germany for the German Zupfmusikfest in Bonn in 1978. It was also part of the production of the CD “Rudy Cipolla – Mandolin Maestro”. It did travel again to Germany in 1982 for another Zupfmusikfest.
Kennet Frankel who played mandolin, mandola and mandocello in this group between 1976 and 1979. He has made available some recordings by the Berkeley Mandolin Ensemble on his website.
1976-1979 Berkeley Mandolin Ensemble
After my mandolin quartet, I played mandolin, mandola, and mandocello with this wonderful group in concerts, on radio, and on TV. I traveled with them to Germany as the only USA representative at the 1976 German Zupfest.
The Berkeley Mandolin Ensemble played pieces by German composers Konrad Wölki and Kurt Schwaen, transcriptions of lute music, pieces by Ludwig van Beethoven, Ragtimes by Scott Joplin and more.
Rudy Cipolla recording
The ensemble was part of the Rudy Cipolla album The World of Rudy Cipola which was recorded in 1982 and 1983.
The Berkeley Mandolin Ensemble with Owen Hartford and Rudy Cipolla gave an interview with live performances in 1987 which can be found in the Rudy Cipolla archive by Sheri Mignano-Crawford. Discussion in the Mandolin Cafe with link to a collection of recordings and sheet music by Rudy Cipolla. The ensemble plays works by Vivaldi, Owen Hartford and Rudy Cipolla.
Radim Zenkl and Sheri Mignano-Crawford played with the ensemble in 1989, there is a picture of the ensemble from 1989 on Radim Zenkls website.
Recently Ralf Leenen and Alex Timmermann have added some interesting youtube videos about the life and music of Silvio Ranieri.
Ralf Leenen plays a historical record played by Silvio Ranieris mandolin orchestra on an original grammophone from the 1920s.
In a Chinese Teple Garden, by Ketelbey and En Badinant by Ambrosio
In a second video Ralf Leenen talks about the mandolin method by S. Ranieri and his connections with Ranieri.
The 3rd video you can hear a solo recording by Ranieri of The Swan by Camille Saint-Saens with piano accompaniment. In this video Ralf Leenen also analyses the playing of Ranieri which is very interesting.
Alex Timmermann has also added a youtube video about Silvio Ranieri including historical recordings of Sérenade badine by J. Gabriel.Marie, Arlequinade by Louis Ganne, Intermezzo from ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’ by Pietro Mascagni.
A sound video of a recording on a 78 RPM disk made in 1905 with music for Mandolin and Piano by Jean Gabriel-Marie and Louis Ganne performed by the Italian Mandolin virtuoso Silvio Ranieri, as well as a 78 RPM recording of Pietro Mascagni’s famous Intermezzo ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’ played by The Belgian Mandolin Orchestra (the Mandolin section of the ‘Grande Harmonie Royale Bruxelles) conducted by Silvio Ranieri (Rome, 1882 – 1956, Bruxelles).
I have recently found an interview with David Grisman (Live on the Jake Feinberg Show) where he talked about the recording of the Bluegrass Album with Red Allen and Frank Wakefield in 1964. He later talks about his projects with Jerry Garcia.
This interview inspired me to look back to the early 1960s and how Bluegrass was like then.
The album was produced for Smithsonian Folkways Records. Grisman (born in 1945) was just 19 years old when he produced this record. Wakefield had a great influence to Grisman who says the he learned alle tha mandolin solos a played by Frank Wakefield.
Allen and Wakefield’s music ranges from strictly traditional songs like “Little Maggie” to pieces introduced by Bill Monroe to sacred material, all with their hallmark close harmonies and tight instrumental backing. Like Monroe and Roscoe Holcomb, Allen’s voice embodies the “high lonesome” sound.
Grisman had invited Red Allen and Frank Wakefield to play a concert at the Carnegie Hall before.
Bluegrass (1964) – Red Allen und Frank Wakefield
David Grisman especially was inspired by a song from the album “Mountain Music Bluegrass Style” – The White House Blues by Earl Taylor and the Stoney Mountain Boys. They had to drive to New York to buy records like this. He says abou when he listened to this song for the very first time: “That changed my life”
Ernesto Becucci (1845 – 1905) was a popular and succesful Italian composer during the second half of the 19th century. Especially his composition “Tesoro Mio” has been successful all over the world.
His compositions have also been arranged for mandolin and mandolin orchestra. In the monthly reports about published music (Hofmeisters Monatsberichte) from 1906 I have found a note about the composition “Erhaschte Küsse Op. 294” in a version for mandolin solo or with piano or guitar accompaniment:
The composition “Che Ridere!” played by the mandolin ensemble “Mutinae Plectri” can be seen in the following video:
I have also found a historical recording with Troise and his Mandoliers (Selecta Plectrum Orchestra), a recording of “Che ridere” by the Ensemble Ansamblul “ANIMO” from Moldavia and another version of “Tesoro Mio” with mandolins, mandocello and guitar (sheet music for this arrangement can be found in the Mandolin Cafe forum – see below).
There are many other versions with piano, accordion, carouselorgan or with bigger orchestras.
I have compiled compositions by Ernesto Becucci in the following playlist – enjoy the music by Ernesto Becucci!
This is a well-known Italian waltz, originally written in 1895 for piano and adapted to many other settings over the following century. The original piano score is at IMSLP and there are many recordings, old and new, on Youtube. Pasquale Troise recorded it at one of his very first Decca sessions around 1929/30 (Link) with his Selecta Plectrum Mandoline Orchestra, shortly to be renamed “Troise & His Mandoliers”.
Becucci was a popular composer of the day and this is his best-known tune. He was a contemporary of Carlo Munier in Florence, and Munier dedicated his Duettino I to Becucci.
My recording is based on an arrangement for two mandolins and guitar published around 1910/20 by A. Paolilli’s Music Co., Providence R.I., and uploaded by Sheri in her Dropbox thread. I have recorded the original mandolin parts on vintage Italian bowlback mandolins, and have added a mandocello bass line to the guitar rhythm.
You can also find a number of free sheet music downloads for piano in the French National Library bnf: