Avi Avital and His Mighty Mandolin

Jun 24, 2019

Avital’s sensational 2012 Bach recording is back, this time with an amazing new recording of the second violin partita plus a DVD.

Mandolinist Avi Avital has brought the music he loves into venues of every sort. But his nightclub Vivaldi and his Carnegie Hall Bach have the same loving approach – deeply felt, nuanced with sparkling precision, and phrased with the natural breathing of a singer. While he is one of those performers whose warm and humble presence can win an audience over before he even plays, his technique allows him to communicate with virtually every note. “When I play,” he says, “I try to cancel everything. In a way, to disappear. To just become a channel to this music. “

Now, Deutsche Grammophon has released a deluxe edition of Avi Avital’s 2012 solo album Bach, with Avital and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra playing mandolin arrangements of concertos written for other instruments. New on the release is a gorgeous performance of Avital’s arrangement of Bach’s Solo Violin Partita No. 2 (which ends with one of Bach’s most profound creations, the famous Chaconne). Also included is the opening prelude of Bach’s first cello suite (see trailer below). There’s also a DVD of two Bach concertos performed in concert.

Avi Avital grew up in Beersheba, a town in the desert of southern Israel. He loved music and took up the mandolin as a boy after hearing his neighbor play. The teacher in the local conservatory was a violinist who’d never played the mandolin, but took on the challenge with passion. He even organized a mandolin orchestra. It seems like a stroke of great luck that Avital’s first lessons came from a string player – violinists are innately good at making music sing and breathe.

Hearing Avital up close on this recording reveals his uncanny talent for speaking through his instrument, shifting his approach toward every note in even the most cascading passages. He delivers the musical message with every syllable lovingly considered. To take on Bach’s great Chaconne, communication like this is fundamental, and Avital gives it intelligence and sweep.

If you’d like to get to know Avi Avital a bit, here’s French horn player Sarah Willis of the Berlin Philharmonic in one of her many fabulous interviews, spending a day in Berlin with Avital. It’s a lot of fun:

And if you'd like to see Avital in concert, he's currently on tour with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, with two Boston-area appearances: Tanglewood on July 11 and Rockport Music on July 12 (update: this concert is sold out).

Watch a trailer for the album:

For more information and to purchase this album, visit ArkivMusic.