Avi Avital BACH Concertos Sonata 4790092

. . . these concertos sing, gloriously. With the mandolin's quick decay ¿ and its lack of ornamental resource compared to the harpsichord, a more usual alternate instrument ¿ it would seem like the soul of this music would go missing . . . Avital's virtuosity and imagination are considerable; in his hands, the light, quicksilver tone of the mandolin acts like a dash of Mediterranean sun, making the concertos more ebullient, feathery. A poor soloist-ripieno balance would ruin things, but the modern strings and period continuo of the Kammerakademie Potsdam are vivid without drowning out Avital's restrained instrument . . . the album's highlight is a transcription of Bach's Flute Sonata BWV 1034; over a bed of theorbo and cello, Avital's mandolin paints a pointillist rainbow, unlikely and all the more lovely for it.

This is a light and clever collection full of serious music, and a lovely summer listen. The mandolin turns out to be a fine substitute for the harpsichord in particular . . . making a selection like the album-opening Concerto in D minor sound comfortable and natural. In places where the music seems more contrived, Avital's slick virtuosity on the strings gets him through . . . Avital plays his parts so well that little is lost and old works sound fresh again.

. . . [Avital] gives us exquisite and idiomatic transcriptions of three concerti (two originally for harpsichord, one for violin) and a sonata (originally for flute) on this album . . . Ideally, the listeners should lose themselves in the music, oblivious of its origins. Avital accomplishes this, both through his skill as a transcriber and with the sheer musicality of his interpretations. Avital's playing proffers a wide range of dynamics and tone that he modulates in an arresting manner . . . For the concerti, the tone of the mandolin blends well with the ensemble in the ritornelli and other tutti passages. It offers just enough of a different timbre and articulation to color these passages without dominating them. In the solo passages he brings
the mandolin to the fore without sounding forced . . . In the popular Violin Concerto in A minor (BWV 1041), Avital's impressive technique makes the 32nd-note passages, normally taken in one bow by violinists, seem perfectly phrased ¿ even though each note is individually plucked with the plectrum . . . The orchestral sound is magnificent throughout, and the interpretations . . . are informed by a deep knowledge of performance practice. Balance between soloist and ensemble is good overall, and the quality of the recorded sound is up to DG's usual high standard. Avi Avital ¿ his playing proffers a wide range of dynamics and tone which he modulates in an arresting manner . . . Avital proves to be a fine interpreter of Bach, the instrumentalist's sensitivity to the timelessness of the composer's music evidence of a strong sense of "the long line".

. . . awe-inspiring skill and stylish musicianship . . . Avital's playing is nimble and precise . . . the intricate elaborations of the melodic line are spellbinding. His take on the Concerto for Harpsichord, Strings and Continuo No. 5 in F minor is also intimate and elegant . . . Avital's bright, effervescent sound brings a distinctive touch to the third movement of the Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor . . . it's time well spent.

The Potsdam Chamber Academy plays very well . . . Avi Avital is an outstanding player . . . he does play Bach with passion and a firm deliberative intent. . . . I look forward to following his development, and those who love Bach will find much to savor here . . .

These really are polished, exciting performances by Avital and the Kammerakademie Potsdam that veer between bracing tension and an expressive fragility. In the slow movements Avital resists the temptation to use tremolo, opting to trust the listener to mentally extend the long notes and thereby become a genuine participant in the performance; the faster movements, such as the A minor Concerto's finale, benefit from a crisp attack and sparkling articulation . . . the mandolin really comes into its own as a truly cantabile instrument, the combination of filigree transparency and intimacy allowing Avital to take far more purely expressive risks over a broader emotional continuum. The Andante [in the E minor Sonata] is worth the price of the disc alone.

. . . all three works transfer well to the mandolin, tuned like the violin. The resulting sound is entrancing. Avital stylishly meets the challenge of moulding plectrum-plucked sound into long, shapely phrases and figurations. The slow movement of the Concerto in G minor, BWV 1056R is heavenly, the brighter plectrum of the mandolin singing out above the subdued pizzicato of the orchestral strings. Equally, the singing upper line above arpeggiated broken chords in the Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041's final movement is a moment of pure technical genius . . . Avital's mandolin is hauntingly beautiful, putting this firmly on the wish-list of any Baroque enthusiast.

It is a seductive sound and his playing is dazzling. Avital has transcribed for the mandolin, music originally written for three other instruments. The texture is different without being distorted. He achieves a bright and brilliant articulation in the works for harpsichord, a more lyrical virtuosity in the violin concerto and a mesmerising woody legato in the flute sonata, demonstrating not just the adaptability of the instrument but the versatility of his playing as well. His "tempi" are brisk and energised without being rushed and the slow movements are taken with becalming sensitivity . . . [the musicians are] doing more than ample justice to the sounds of the baroque.

. . . es klingt phantastisch, eigentlich, als gehörte es so.

. . . schon beim ersten Hören wird klar, wie neu diese Stücke auf der Mandoline klingen. Der helle und silbrige Klang unterstreicht die Leichtigkeit in Bachs Musik. Dadurch wird sie feiner, aber auch zerbrechlicher . . . Der berückende Mandolinenklang, aber auch Avi Avitals facettenreiches und intensives Spiel hören sich wunderbar leicht und beschwingt an. Begleitet wird Avital von der Kammerakademie Potsdam, die sich seinem Spiel mit einer klar strukturierten und zurückgenommenen Begleitung äußerst geschmeidig anpasst. Das schwebende Largo im Cembalokonzert BWV 1056, der dichte und drängende dritte Satz des a-Moll-Konzerts oder das filigran polyphone Spiel in der Flötensonate: Diese Einspielung klingt so selbstverständlich, dass man sich fragt, wieso Bach eigentlich nicht von selbst auf die Idee gekommen ist, für die Mandoline zu komponieren. Sehr erfrischend!

Absolut virtuos beherrscht Avital sein Instrument, seine Fingerfertigkeit und Präzision sind schier unglaublich . . . Die Adaptionen funktionieren erstaunlich gut. Die schnellen Passagen stellen für Avital kein Hindernis dar . . . Die Kammerakademie begleitet Avital äußerst wach und aufmerksam . . . Den Geist der Bach'schen Werke fängt diese Interpretation ein, und sie macht sehr neugierig darauf, den Mandolinisten Avi Avital besser kennenzulernen.

. . . hier ist Musikalität zugegen: Auch in langsamen Sätzen hört man die sensible, elegante Gangart von Avital regelrecht sanft singen.

. . . [Avital] hebt die Bach'sche Musik damit in klangliche Höhen, wo dünne Luft herrscht, wo es einsam wird, wo die Erde und ihr Getöse ziemlich fern sind -- und der Himmel zuweilen wunderbar nah. Besonders in den langsamen Sätzen: So verträumt kann man das bekannte Largo aus dem Konzert BWV 1056 wohl nur auf einer Mandoline spielen. Und auf einer Mandoline kann das vielleicht nur Avi Avital. Das ist einfach nur großartig . . . sorgfältig im Stil, empfindsam, geschmackvoll.

Beim unvoreingenommenen Hören der originalen Werke für Klavier, Violine und Flöte erstaunen die Klangvariabilität und der Farbenreichtum des kleinen Zupfinstruments: Mit Zartheit, Leichtigkeit und Raffinesse verstehen es Avi Avital und seine Mitstreiter, den Werken ein ungewöhnliches und reizvolles neues Klang-Kleid anzuziehen, das auch von der Tontechnik exzellent zur Geltung gebracht wird.

Le disque témoigne des possibilités insoupçonnées d'un instrument que l'on croyait tombé en désuétude, mais qui est en plein renouveau.

. . . c'est subtil, intelligent, techniquement incroyable. Qui aurait pensé qu'un petit plectre pouvait projeter si fermement les bariolages agités du BWV 1052 en ré mineur, y trouver les contrastes et le théâtre attendus, et des couleurs si belles? . . . Un exercice contre-nature assumé avec tant d'aisance distingue forcément un grand art . . . La présence d'un orchestre de chambre (excellent) plutôt que de cordes solistes . . . peut étonner, face au petit instrument. Mais les ingénieurs du son ont fait leur travail, et les scintillements du soliste à travers la partie dense de l'orchestra produisent leur effet . . .