All products and recordings are chosen independently by our editorial team. This review contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Please read our affiliates FAQ page to find out more.

Mandolin on Stage

Raffaele La Ragione (mandolin); Il Pomo d’Oro/Francesco Corti (Arcana)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Mandolin On Stage
Galuppi: Il mondo alla roversa – Sinfonia; Haydn: Sinfonia in D, Hob.I:106 – Allegro; Hummel: Mandolin Concerto in G; Lecce: Concerto in G; Paisiello: La serva padrona – Sinfonia; Concerto for Mandolin and Strings in E flat; Vivaldi: Concerto in C, RV425
Raffaele La Ragione (mandolin); Il Pomo d’Oro/Francesco Corti
Arcana A524   66:56 mins

Advertisement

This disc spotlights the mandolin, not as the tremulous instrument used to accompany Neapolitan songs but as a major protagonist that inspired works by some of Europe’s leading Baroque and Classical composers. The four concertos featured here – by Paisiello, Lecce, Vivaldi and Hummel – demonstrate the mandolin’s ‘spirit, musicality and virtuosity’ as its popularity spread from Naples to Venice to Austria. Its chameleon colours are highlighted here by the use of three different types of mandolin: for the Paisiello and Lecce, soloist Raffaele La Ragione plays a Neapolitan instrument from the 1770s whose metal strings twangle with a brighter timbre than the mellower gut-strung instruments used for the Vivaldi and Hummel.

There’s a convivial and intimate atmosphere in the one-to-a-part account of Vivaldi’s C major concerto: a breezy energy drives its outer movements while the filigree Largo is delicate as Venetian lace. La Ragione despatches the virtuosic writing of Paisiello’s E flat Concerto with real pizzazz, but the highlight of this work is the graceful Larghetto whose cantabile melodies he articulates with a quasi-vocal expressivity. There’s a balletic quality to the G major concerto by Paisiello’s fellow Neapolitan, Francesco Lecce, and the work is stylishly played – notwithstanding the little fluctuations of tempo in the opening Allegro. The band is fleshed out for the Hummel, whose stately Classical lines provide an elegant framework for La Ragione’s decorous playing.

Interspersing the concertos are opera Sinfonias by Galuppi, Haydn and Paisiello, their pretty melodies and perky rhythms brought to pulsating life by Il Pomo d’Oro.

Advertisement

Kate Bolton-Porciatti