www.chimai.comThis Week's Special 14/02/2004
Sonia Maurer plays the mandolin with the Ensemble Mereuer, and sometimes with Ennio Morricone's orchestra for several film music recordings. At her request, the Maestro composed the Serenata Passacaglia for her ensemble.

Sonia was kind enough to answer some of our questions.

Click here for more information about the Ensemble Mereuer. And here for Sonia's web site (including an mp3 sample of the Serenata Passacaglia).

Special thanks to Laurent for some of the questions.

www.chimai.com: Can you tell us about you and about your plectrum quintet called "Ensemble Mereuer"?

Sonia Maurer: I'm a guitarist and mandolinist, playing classical and popular music since I was 7 years old (now I'm 33).
I've recorded many CDs, preferring the particular repertory of plectrum instrument, alone and with the "Ensemble Mereuer", especially stimulating composers to write for our kind of group.

www.chimai.com: Ennio Morricone wrote the Serenata Passacaglia especially for the Ensemble Mereuer. How did that happen?

Sonia Maurer: Maestro Ennio Morricone dedicated this very interesting piece just for me and for my plectrum quintet! I played mandolin in some of his movie music, so I had the opportunity to ask him to write one piece for this kind of instrument. I really didn't have any hope that he would really do it! I was wrong, fortunately.
After a first recording session, I gave him the track to listen to, and he told me how to better communicate the spirit of the Serenata Passacaglia, emphasizing its ironic aspect. The Maestro was so kind to satisfy this desire, and so we have his first (but I hope not last) piece for plectrum instrument.

www.chimai.com: Do you know if he has done that with other musicians?

Sonia Maurer: I hope that other musicians will have the same fortune as I had, but I don't know if anyone else asked him to write a piece for their group.

www.chimai.com: How is it to work with Ennio Morricone?

Sonia Maurer: He is a wonderful person, but when someone is not playing well he gets very angry. He really doesn't like to waste time.

www.chimai.com: On which film score or concert pieces have you worked with him?

Sonia Maurer: I played in Giuseppe Tornatore's "La leggenda del pianista sull'oceano", Oliver Stone's "U Turn" and in other films, less famous but beautiful all the same.

www.chimai.com: What about the main theme of "Un difetto di famiglia" (the version heard in the movie but not on the CD where it was replaced with pizzicato violins)?

Sonia Maurer: Unfortunately not.

www.chimai.com: Have you participated in live concerts with him?

Sonia Maurer: Never, but I hope I will in the future.

www.chimai.com: Do you know the reason behind Morricone's fondness of the mandola/mandocello? He has used it quite frequently as a melody instrument in its own right in many of his scores, which is quite unusual. It shows Morricone's originality in that he seldom relies on traditional orchestrations. Neither of these lower pitched members of the mandolin family were really designed as melody instruments.

Sonia Maurer: I think that Maestro Morricone likes to use traditional instruments to give his music something special, something that one could call "music color", a sensation. Actually, in Italian music it is not so rare to find mandola or mandoloncello used as lyric instruments. You can choose the lowest pitch of these instruments to imitate the voice of a tenor or a bariton.

www.chimai.com: Which kind of mandolin do you play? The Neapolitan with 4 double metallic chords, tuned as a violon, or the Milanese one with gut chords which the musician pinches with his/her fingers? Does Morricone impose you any specific kind?

Sonia Maurer: I play both, but really it depends on the kind of music I have to play. Modern music will be played with the Neapolitan mandoline, and baroque music with the Milanese (which can also be called "lombardo"). Morricone always asks me to play the Neapolitan one, due to his modern type of music.

www.chimai.com: Have you worked with other film music composers?

Sonia Maurer: I often play with Nicola Piovani, especially in the soundtrack of "Pinocchio" with Roberto Benigni. Also with Armando Trovajoli.

www.chimai.com: What are your future plans? Anything related to Morricone?

Sonia Maurer: I hope to play again with Morricone. He is really a wonderful person and one of the greatest composers of all times!