The violinist Simcha Nathanson migrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union in 1971 and settled in Beersheba. Due to a shortage of work in his field at that time, he actually ended up teaching the mandolin at the municipal conservatory. As Nathanson’s education and background as a musician and teacher centred mainly around the world violin music, his students received their musical education in accordance with violin repertoire; that was, in fact, how the “Beersheba school of mandolin playing” came into existence. Nathanson’s pedagogical approach continued into the next generation with Lev Haimovich, also an immigrant from the FSU, who had settled in Beersheba. In due course, a suitable academic framework for outstanding mandolin players was also set up in the framework of a mandolin class under the guidance of Professor Motti Schmidt at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. As time passed we, two of the graduates of the “Beersheba school”, have felt it our duty to endeavor to perpetuate this approach: the album presented to you here is just one of a number of efforts we have made to this end. The combination of the two of us significantly represents the generational changes that took place in mandolin teaching at the municipal conservatory in Beersheba. We have, therefore, chosen to dedicate a considerable part of “Sources” to the performance of pedagogical works, from the Keyboard Inventions of Johann Sebastian Bach to duets for two violins of Charles Auguste de Beriot and to those of Bela Bartok.
Imitation as a musical element has existed as a basis of musical culture since the dawn of history. The echo effect is a natural acoustic phenomenon that has always been a part of human behavior from the times when prehistoric man dwelt in caves. It is interesting to trace to what extent composers have enhanced this element, over the course of generations, to the degree of artistic excellence expressed in such works as J.S.Bach’s Keyboard Inventions and G.P.Telemann’s Canonic Sonatas, as well as in the works of J-M Leclair and Michel Corette, as represented here. A fact not known to all – the renowned violinist Michel Corette was also the author of one of the most important books on methods of mandolin pedagogy. No less interesting than the latter is the fact that not one work of Corette has been found dedicated to the instrument. We believe that Corette most probably did not denounce the performance of his violin works on the mandolin at the time, but that the main factor for publishing music volumes was, and still is, consumer demand. It is most likely that, in his time, there would have been more players interested in performing his duets on violins than on mandolins. There were also those composers who were more sophisticated in the manner in which they marketed their music; take, for example, Telemann who, on the cover of his Canonic Duets, indicated that they were designated to be played on flutes, violins or on basse de violon – a kind of Baroque double bass. Bach, himself, frequently arranged his own works for different instrumental combinations. That was his practice when, for example, arranging his solo Violin Partita no. 3 in E major for both lute and organ, also using parts of the work for instrumental pieces in a sacred cantata of his. In our performance of Bach’s Keyboard Inventions, we feel we have, specifically on our plucked instruments, achieved a timbre definitely close to that of the harpsichord, the instrument for which they were composed. The same practice of arranging music from one instrument to another, so popular during the Baroque period, was not unknown later on, when Johan Halvorsen wrote an