The Venice Baroque Orchestra, recognized as one of the premier ensembles devoted to period instrument performance, and Israeli mandolin virtuoso Avi Avital bring the Baroque to life with an infectious energy in this dazzling program. The New York Times has said of their collaboration “the chemistry between the ensemble and Mr. Avital was palpable.” Their recording, Vivaldi, won a 2015 ECHO Klassik Award. If you’re a fan of Baroque music, this is a concert you won’t want to miss.
“The words “superstar” and “mandolinist” still look odd next to each other. Yet in the classical world they are starting to be joined with some frequency … Avi Avital … was nothing short of electric.” — The New York Times
Venice Baroque Orchestra
Avi Avital, mandolin
Anna Fusek, recorder
Geminiani Concerto grosso in D Minor, “La Follia” (after A. Corelli Op. 5 No. 12) Vivaldi Concerto in D Major for Lute, Two Violins, and Continuo, RV 93 Albinoni Concerto in G Major for Strings and Basso Continuo, Op. 7, No. 4 Vivaldi Concerto in G Major for Mandolin and Recorder, RV 532 — Intermission — Vivaldi Concerto in D Minor for Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 127 Vivaldi Concerto in C Major for Mandolin, Strings, and Basso Continuo, RV 425 Paisiello Concerto in E-flat Major for Mandolin Vivaldi Concerto in G Minor for Mandolin, Strings, and Continuo, RV 315; “Summer,” RV 315, from The Four Seasons (originally for violin)
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 has received wide critical acclaim for its concert and opera performances throughout North America, Europe, South America, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China, and has appeared in many more cities across the United States 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 orchestra has been seen worldwide through several television specials, including films by the BBC, ARTE, NTR (Netherlands), and NHK. They are the subject of three recent video recordings, and their performances were also featured on Swiss TV in the documentary film by Richard Dindo, Vivaldi in Venice.
In 2018, VBO embarked on two tours with countertenor Franco Fagioli, with concerts in London, Ljubljana, Versailles, Japan, and China. The Orchestra’s annual US tour featured Anna Fusek on recorders. Recent festival appearances included Enescu Festival with mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená, Grafenegg with harpist Xavier de Maistre, and Schleswig Holstein with mandolinist Avi Avital.
Recent seasons included performances of Vivaldi’s Juditha triumphans at Carnegie Hall, London’s Barbican Centre, and Brussels’ Palais des Beaux-Arts, marking the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the oratorio’s premiere in Venice; performances with violinist Viktoria Mullova at Vienna’s Musikverein and in Budapest; an 18-city tour of the US featuring violinist Nicola Benedetti; and a tour of Japan with mandolinist Avi Avital. The orchestra has toured Europe, the United States, and Asia with collaborators such as countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Avi Avital, soprano Karina Gauvin, Magdalena Kožená, and violinist Robert McDuffie (in a tour featuring the world premiere of Philip Glass’ violin concerto The American Four Seasons).
The Orchestra’s latest recording, featuring Avi Avital in Vivaldi concertos, was released by Deutsche Grammophon. The previous recording, featuring Philippe Jaroussky in Porpora arias on the Erato label, received a Grammy nomination. The 2012 release on Naïve, a pasticcio of Metastasio’s L’Olimpiade featuring the recording premieres of many 18th-century opera arias, was awarded Choc du Monde de la Musique. The VBO has an extensive discography with Sony and Deutsche Grammophon. Their world-premiere recording of Andromeda liberata for DG was followed by violin concertos with Giuliano Carmignola; Vivaldi sinfonias and concertos for strings; Vivaldi motets and arias with soprano Simone Kermes, two discs with Ms. Kožená — Handel arias and Vivaldi arias; Vivaldi violin concertos with Viktoria Mullova and Mr. Carmignola, and Italian arias with Ms. Petibon. The Orchestra’s earlier discography on Sony with Mr. Carmignola includes The Four Seasons, previously unrecorded Vivaldi concertos, and a collection of Bach arias featuring Angelika Kirchschlager. The Orchestra has also been honored with the Diapason d’Or, Echo Award, and the Edison Award.
The Venice Baroque Orchestra is supported by Fondazione Cassamarca in Treviso.
The first mandolin soloist to be nominated for a classical Grammy, Avi Avital has been compared to Andres Segovia for his championship of his instrument and to Jascha Heifitz for his incredible virtuosity. Passionate and “explosively charismatic” (The New York Times) in live performance, he is a driving force behind the reinvigoration of the mandolin repertory. More than 100 contemporary compositions have been written for him, 15 of them concertos including by Anna Clyne, Avner Dorman, and Giovanni Sollima which will be premiered in 2019/20. Enhanced by his infectious spirit of adventure and the warm rapport he fosters with his audience, Avital’s championship of his instrument is taking the mandolin centre stage.
An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, he has made four recordings for the label. Recently released Avital meets Avital (2017) with oud/bassist, Omer Avital, explores their shared cultural heritage and brings their differing classical and jazz musical backgrounds into dialogue. Earlier releases featured original concerti and transcriptions by Vivaldi (2015) his own Bach concerto transcriptions (2012) and Between Worlds (2014), a cross-generic chamber collection exploring the nexus between classical and traditional music.
In 2018/19, Avital returns to Carnegie Hall to makes his debut on the main stage with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Highlights of that season in the US also include play-directing the Seattle Symphony, and performances with the Detroit Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. He also returns to Canada to perform with Les Violons du Roy, ahead of a North American tour in the following season. In the Spring of 2019, following on from his most recent Deutsche Grammophon recording, Avital tours North America with bassist Omer Avital. Recent appearances in the US also include performances with the St. Louis Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony, and Chicago Symphony.
Avital’s inspired music-making has electrified audiences in performances around the world. He has performed with orchestras such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Tonhalle Zurich, Israel Philharmonic, Dresden Phiharmonic, and Tasmania Symphony Orchestra, under conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Kent Nagano, Osmo Vänskä, Ton Koopman and Giovanni Antonini. Performances have taken him to Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, London’s Wigmore and Royal Albert Halls, Berlin Philharmonie, Zurich’s Tonhalle, Barcelona’s Palau de la Música Catalana, Paris Philharmonie, Vienna Konzerthaus, New York’s Carnegie Hall, and Palais de Versailles with a live telecast on TV Arte.
He is a favorite on the international festival circuit having appeared at the Aspen, Salzburg, Tanglewood, Spoleto, Ravenna, Cheltenham, and Verbier Festivals, amongst others, and he was Portrait Artist at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in 2017 which involved over 20 performances of 10 different programmes. Artistic partners in a variety of genres with whom he collaborates include Andreas Scholl, Juan Diego Flórez, Dawn Upshaw, Giora Feidman, Ray Chen, David Greilsammer, Richard Galliano, Ksenija Sidorova, percussionist Itamar Doari, and the Dover and Danish String Quartets. He was featured artist in a Zeitsinsel at the Dortmund Konzerthaus where he curated a weekend of programmes featuring classical, jazz and improvisations and a new collaboration with the Venice Baroque Orchestra and Georgian puppet theatre, Budrugana Gagra.
Born in Be’er Sheva in southern Israel, Avital began learning the mandolin at the age of eight and soon joined the flourishing mandolin youth orchestra founded and directed by his charismatic teacher, Russian-born violinist Simcha Nathanson. He later graduated from the Jerusalem Music Academy and the Conservatorio Cesare Pollini in Padua, Italy, where he studied original mandolin repertoire with Ugo Orlandi. Winner of Israel’s prestigious Aviv Competition in 2007, Avital is the first mandolinist in the history of the competition to be so honored. He plays on a mandolin made by Israeli luthier Arik Kerman.
Anna Fusek is a phenomenon lauded equally by audience and press. Born in Prague and raised in Germany, she crosses musical boundaries as well receiving international acclaim: She has conquered concert halls all over the world playing no less than three different instruments. As a soloist she tours with renowned orchestras such as Venice Baroque Orchestra or Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin. Recorder player Anna Fusek has secured her part in today’s musical life. Much to concert goers’ surprise and delight though she lays aside the recorder while they are applauding in order to pick up the violin to continue her performance on that instrument. She has also appeared numerous times on stage as a concert pianist and so she is pursuing the baroque tradition of the versatile musician.
In Jan Bosse’s much lauded production of Calisto by Cavalli her versatility was hailed by audiences both at Theater Basel and the Frankfurt Opera: In the role of Amor she alluringly bowed the strings of her violin, winded love melodies and jinxed the ensemble by playing the piano. Audiences were spellbound.
Her huge range benefits all of her projects: The gracious musician inspires through her joy of playing and deep musicality, as the French Muse Baroque (le magazine de la musique baroque) described a concert: “really incredible performance of Anna Fusek that sent electric shock waves through the evening.”