Avi Avital records entire programme of original mandolin compositions for latest Deutsche Grammophon album

Art of the Mandolin release preceded by Scarlatti e-single
and social media invitation to guess rest of tracklist

“This is not an introduction to the mandolin,” says Avi Avital. “It’s the essence of the mandolin.”The Israeli musician’s latest Deutsche Grammophon recording, set for international release on 13 November 2020, is a celebration of the mandolin and its diverse repertoire. Art of the Mandolin offers a guided tour of the instrument’s rich history and a star performer’s personal selection of some of its greatest compositions. “I want this record to reflect both its past and its present. I want to present the whole arc of mandolin music in the classical tradition,” the artist explains.“It’s the first time I’ve made an album where the entire repertoire was originally written for the mandolin.”

Avital, who has commissioned and premiered many new mandolin works himself,was keen to focushere on music composed specifically for his instrument and, in the process, showcase its versatility. He was joined for the recording by the Venice Baroque Orchestra, harpist Anneleen Lenaerts, guitarist Sean Shibe, harpsichordist Yizhar Karshon and theorbo player Ophira Zakai.

Rather than announce the fulldetails long before the album’s release, Avi Avital and Deutsche Grammophon have chosen to publish one track from Art of the Mandolin to whet listeners’ appetites. The closing Allegro of Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in D minor K89, one of six mandolin sonatas by the prolific Italian composer, will be released as an e-single today, 21 August.

The digital taster track forms part of an extensive social media campaign introduced by a short video from its performer. “I wonder if you can guess what other composers and pieces will be on this album until we unveil the tracklist in September?” asks Avital. “If you have any idea, write it in the comments.”The only clue he gives is that the works could date from anywhere between the Baroque era and the present day… Art of the Mandolin marks a major milestone in the history of the instrument and its repertoire. It also underlines the contribution made by a remarkable musician to broadeningthe mandolin’s appeal. “When I started playing classical repertoire in concert halls almost twenty years ago, my instrument was a curiosity,” Avi Avital recalls. “To include it in important concert programmes, the case had to be made time and again that the mandolin deserves an audience.” Having now played in almost every major concert hall and with many of the world’s leading orchestras, Avital has made the mandolin an integral part of the classical scene.