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Press Release

Avi Avital transports the mandolin to its Venetian roots in his latest album, Vivaldi
Release date: February 24, 2015
Avital and the Venice Baroque Orchestra embark on North American tour in February and March, performing repertoire from the new album in Southern California, Miami, Boston, New York,  Calgary and Montreal

NEW YORK, NY – January 21, 2015– The GRAMMY-nominated Israeli mandolinist Avi Avital has been praised as a both an “enthralling and sensitive soloist” (Boston Globe) and a “convincing advocate for his instrument” (Wall Street Journal).  As the first mandolinist signed to Deutsche Grammophon, he has brought the instrument to entirely new audiences, building a fresh legacy for the mandolin through virtuosic performance and a commitment to commissioning new works and arrangements in a range of genres. On February 24, Avital will release Vivaldi, his third album on DG that returns the instrument to its origins—the Venetian Baroque and master composer Antonio Vivaldi. On this release, Avital captures the mystical spirit of Venice, shedding new light on Vivaldi’s musical genius by performing his own transcriptions of the composer’s works, demonstrating the rock star status that he cultivated in his own time. He is joined on the album by the Venice Baroque Orchestra on this, the ensemble’s twelfth recording on Deutsche Grammophon. Avital and the VBO are also about to embark on a major North American tour this spring, stopping in Southern California, Miami, Boston and Carnegie Hall as well as Calgary and Montreal (complete dates below).
“Working with the Venice Baroque Orchestra is a great experience,” says Avital. “All the players live around Venice and are surrounded by the culture of this unique city. You can hear their incredible understanding of its history in every note.”
Avital sees Vivaldi’s mandolin concertos as the instrument’s “Old Testament,” and has long wanted to revisit these earliest experiments in mandolin music. “Once you start looking into Baroque performance practice,” says Avital, “you soon realize how much freedom musicians had back then. Music in those days was all about guts, personality and spontaneity.”
The centerpiece of the album, the Mandolin Concerto in C major, RV 425, is a cornerstone of classical mandolin repertoire. The work is bookended by Avital’s own transcriptions of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Concerto in D major (originally for lute), Concerto in A minor (originally for violin) and sonatas for lute, violin, and recorder. Interspersed with these familiar concerti are two authentic, 18th Century Venetian Gondolier songs, performed by tenor Juan Diego Flórez, accompanied by Avi on mandolin. In this finale, Avital trades in his modern mandolin for a mandolino lombardo, the traditional instrument of the era. The album’s trailer can be viewed here:
For a musician such as Avital, fascinated by every aspect of his instrument, the music of Vivaldi is a gift: “He was one of the few composers who actually wrote for the mandolin. The fact that this music is designed for the instrument gives it a real sense of intimacy.”
This album follows Avital’s January 2014 release, Between Worldswhich the New York Times called “revelatory” – featuring repertoire ranging from chamber music compositions by Ernest Bloch and Manuel de Falla, to traditional Bulgarian folk tunes. His 2012 Deutsche Grammophon debut featured his own transcriptions of J. S. Bach Concertos for harpsichord and violin in arrangements for mandolin and orchestra.
Recognized by The New York Times for his "exquisitely sensitive playing" and “stunning agility”, Grammy-nominated mandolinist Avi Avital is one of the world’s most exciting and entrepreneurial musicians. Avital is the first mandolin player to receive a GRAMMY nomination in the category “Best Instrumental Soloist” (2010) for his recording of Avner Dorman’s Mandolin Concerto (Metropolis Ensemble/Andrew Cyr). He has won numerous competitions and awards including Germany’s ECHO Prize for his 2008 recording with the David Orlowsky Trio and the AVIV Competition (2007), the preeminent national competition for Israeli soloists.
Avi Avital is internationally regarded for his performances at venues including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, Berlin Philharmonic Hall, KKL Luzern, Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing and Wigmore Hall in London. He has appeared as soloist with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Freiburger Barockorchester, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and Berliner Symphoniker under the batons of Mstislav Rostropovich, Sir Simon Rattle and Philippe Entremont, amongst others. Avital has collaborated extensively with artists such as clarinettist Giora Feidman, soprano Dawn Upshaw, and trumpeter and composer Frank London. He has also been featured at the Tanglewood, Luzern, Spoleto, and Ravenna summer music festivals.
Recent highlights include Concerto performances at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Fest and Aspen Music Festival, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road workshop on a new composition by David Bruce, performances of “Avital meets Avital”, a cross-genre program with New York-based jazz artist Omer Avital, and engagements with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Oxford Philomusica and Potsdam Kammerakademie.
Avital plays a 1998 Arik Kerman mandolin built especially for him with Thomastik-Infeld strings. For more info, visit
Founded in 1997 by Baroque scholar and harpsichordist Andrea Marcon, the Venice Baroque Orchestra is recognized as one of the very finest period instrument ensembles. The Orchestra receives wide critical acclaim for its concert and opera performances throughout North America, Europe, South America, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China. The VBO has appeared in more cities across the United States and Asia than any other Baroque orchestra in history.
Committed to the rediscovery of 17th- and 18th-century masterpieces, under Mr. Marcon's leadership VBO has given the modern-day premieres of Francesco Cavalli's L'Orione, Vivaldi's Atenaide, Andromeda liberata, Benedetto Marcello's La morte d'Adone and Il trionfo della poesia e della musica, and Boccherini's La Clementina. With Teatro La Fenice in Venice, the Orchestra has staged Cimarosa's L'Olimpiade, Handel's Siroe, and Galuppi's L'Olimpiade, and reprised Siroe at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York in its first full staging in the United States.
The VBO has recently toured extensively with countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux, cellists Gautier Capuçon and Mario Brunello, recorder player Maurice Steger, and with  violinist Giuliano Carmignola. In addition to concerts with mandolinist Avi Avital in Italy, Croatia, Germany, Mexico, and across the US, the VBO will tour this season with contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux in Paris, with contralto Sonia Prina in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and collaborate with violinist Nicola Benedetti in Baden-Baden and soprano Karina Gauvin in Dresden.
The VBO's extensive discography includes the world-premiere recording of Vivaldi's Andromeda liberata; violin concertos with Giuliano Carmignola and Viktoria Mullova; Vivaldi sinfonias and concertos for strings; Vivaldi motets and arias with soprano Simone Kermes, Handel arias and Vivaldi arias with Magdalena Kožená; Bach arias featuring Angelika Kirchschlager, and Italian arias with Patricia Petibon.
The Venice Baroque Orchestra is supported by Fondazione Cassamarca in Treviso.
AVI AVITAL, mandolin
Concerto in A minor, RV 356 (originally for violin)
L’estro armonico, Op. 3 No. 6
Concerto in D major, RV 93 (originally for lute)
Mandolin Concerto in C major, RV 425
Largo from Concerto in C major, RV 443 (originally for flautino)
Trio Sonata in C major, RV 82 (originally for violin and lute)
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord • Ophira Zakai, lute • Patrick Sepec, cello
The Four Seasons
Concerto in G minor, RV 315 “Summer” (originally for violin)
Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione, Op. 8 No. 2 “L’estate”
1. La biondina in gondoleta

Juan Diego Flórez, tenor • Ivano Zanenghi, lute • Daniele Bovo, cello
Lorenzo Feder, harpsichord • Fabio Tricomi, baroque guitar 
February 20 - Recital w/ David Greilsammer, Chicago, IL - University of Chicago
February 26 - Venice Baroque Orchestra, Palm Desert, CA - McCallum Theater of the Performing Arts
February 27 - Venice Baroque Orchestra, Escondido, CA - California Center for the Arts
February 28 - Venice Baroque Orchestra, Costa Mesa, CA - Segerstrom Center for the Arts
March 2 - Venice Baroque Orchestra, Miami Beach, FL - Miami Beach Community Church
March 3 - Venice Baroque Orchestra, Edmond, OK - Armstrong Auditorium         
March 5 - Venice Baroque Orchestra, Austin, TX - University of Texas
March 8 & 9 - Venice Baroque Orchestra, Calgary, AB - University of Calgary
March 11 - Venice Baroque Orchestra, New York, NY - Carnegie Hall
March 13 - Venice Baroque Orchestra, Cambridge, MA - First Church Cambridge
March 15 - Venice Baroque Orchestra, Montreal                                   
May 3 - Recital - Stanford, CA - Stanford University
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For review or airplay copies, or to request an interview with Mr. Avital, please contact:
Rebecca Davis
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