Ralf Leenen, a multitalented musician regularly performing on both the mandolin and violin, together with Fabio Gallucci, soloist and chambrist, perform a Sonata from Jean-Marie Leclair the Elder, (10 May 1697 – 22 October 1764), a Baroque violinist and composer that is considered to have founded the French violin school.
Both Ralph and Fabio perform with mandolins from the Italian luthier, Carlo Mazzaccara, a neapolitan luthier,specialized in mandolins and guitars building. Started more than 10 years ago, in restauring old mandolins. Living in Naples where there are lots of good mandolins with a good bowl (woods being seasoned naturally for over 100 years) at very good prices, by changing the sound board, the neck and the headstock Carlo has managed to obtain a very good sound from instruments.
Ralf Leenen (°Antwerpen, 1974) started playing mandolin at the age of six.
At the academy “Cantilene” he was a pupil of Joe Van Dunnegem.
When twelve years old he becomes first mandolin player in the Royal Estudiantina “La Napolitaine”. Two years later he becomes the orchestra’s leading soloist and concertmaster. Under guidance of Henri Gamblin he continues to study classical Italian mandolin technique in the tradition of Silvio Ranieri.
Ralf studied violin at the Brussels Royal Conservatory with Clemens Quatacker and later on with Igor en Valery Oistrakh. As second instrument he studied classical guitar with Albert Sunderman. In 1997 he graduated as “Master in Music”.
Since 1999 he succeeded Henri Gamblin as director and leader of the Royal Estudiantina “La Napolitaine”.
As a multitalented musician Ralf regularly performs on both the mandolin and violin and also gives solo recitals with piano accompaniment. Together with Barry Pratt he is author of the book “The Embergher Mandolin”.
Born in Ischia (Naples, Italy) in 1980, he obtained mandolin diploma at Naples conservatory and improve himself with Florentino Calvo (France) and Juan Carlos Munoz (Luxembourg).
He studied also Baroque Music in Naples at “La Pietà dei Turchini”, writing, musical analyses and counterpoint in Naples and in Montpellier.
He worked with a lot of important theatres in Italy and in France (Teatro San Carlo – Naples, Opera Garnier – Paris, Orchestre Symphonique de Montpellier, Maggio musicale Fiorentino, Opera of Cagliari, Arena Sferisterio of Macerata, etc.), with the conductors Rostropovich, Berio, Renzetti, Santi, Garforth, Pahn, Foster…
As a soloist and chambrist, he performed in Italy, France, UK, Austria, Malte, Spain, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Nederland, USA, Israel etc.
In 2009 he’s invited as mandola tutor at the European mandolin and guitar orchestra (Egmyo).
He has recorded : Serenata Mediterranea (mandolin concertos by Dimitri Nicolau), 2 cds with the Nov Mandolin (Mosaique in 2009 and Trois Portraits in 2012), one for mandolin & guitar (Dal Vesuvio all’America Latina, 2009) and at last two discs with the french ensemble MG21 in 2009 and 2012.
In these last years he has worked a lot to create a new repertoire for mandolin and to discovery traditional musics. Many composers have wrote for him, Gordon, Paliotti, Schwartz, Nicolau, Blanco Ruiz, Beer-Demander, Iacono …
In 2012 he won the first price of the Composition competition “José Fernández Rojas” (La Rioja, Spain) with a piece for orchestra.
He’s currently a mandolin teacher at the Lunel Mandolin Academy (France)
Jean-Marie Leclair l’aîné, also known as Jean-Marie Leclair the Elder, (10 May 1697 – 22 October 1764) was a Baroque violinist and composer. He is considered to have founded the French violin school. His brothers Jean-Marie Leclair the younger (1703–77), Pierre Leclair (1709–84) and Jean-Benoît Leclair (1714–after 1759) were also musicians.
Leclair was born in Lyon
, but left to study dance and the violin in Turin. In 1716, he married Marie-Rose Casthanie, a dancer, who died about 1728. Leclair had returned to Paris in 1723, where he played at the Concert Spirituel, the main semi-public music series. His works included several sonatas for flute and basso continuo.
In 1730 Leclair married for the second time. His new wife was the engraver Louise Roussel, who prepared for printing all his works from Opus 2 onward. Named ordinaire de la musique by Louis XV in 1733, Leclair resigned in 1737 after a clash with Guidon over control of the musique du Roy.
Leclair was then engaged by the Princess of Orange – a fine harpsichordist and former student of Handel – and from 1738 until 1743 served three months annually at her court in Leeuwarden, working in The Hague as a private maestro di cappella for the remainder of the year. He returned to Paris in 1743. His only opera Scylla et Glaucus was first performed in 1746 and has been revived in modern times. From 1740 until his death in Paris, he served the Duke of Gramont.
Leclair was renowned as a violinist and as a composer. He successfully drew upon all of Europe’s national styles. Many suites, sonatas, and concertos survive along with his opera, while some vocal works, ballets, and other stage music is lost.
In 1758, after the break-up of his second marriage, Leclair purchased a small house in a dangerous Parisian neighborhood, where he was found stabbed to death in 1764. Although the murder remains a mystery, there is a possibility that his ex-wife may have been behind it – her motive being financial gain – although the strongest suspicion rests on his nephew, Guillaume-François Vial.
Whether at the hands of a relative who had not forgiven him for abandoning the family, or as the work of another musician envious of his talent, on or about October 23, 1764, Jean-Marie Leclair was killed by a stab in the back.
About Carlo Mazzaccara
Carlo Mazzaccara is a neapolitan luthier,specialized in mandolins and guitars building. Started more than 10 years ago, in restauring old mandolins. Living in Naples where there are lots of good mandolins with a good bowl (woods being seasoned naturally for over 100 years) at very good prices, by changing the sound board, the neck and the headstock Carlo has managed to obtain a very good sound from instruments.
He has also invented a bracing system that he calls “floating arch” which allows the top to vibrate more freely increasing the volume (one of the neapolitan mandolin problems).