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Avi Avital: Bach

C. Michael Bailey By

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Johann Sebastian Bach never composed for the mandolin. And that never stopped any mandolin players from appropriating Bach's work, especially for lute. Punch Brothers' Chris Thile recently released his take on the first half of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (Nonesuch, 2013), and is merely the latest non-classical artist to take on the great German's canon. Berlin-based mandolinist Avi Avital tosses his hat into the ring with mandolin arrangements for violin, oboe and flute concerti.

This is familiar fare, crisply delivered by Avital and the Kammerakademie Potsdam, with all arrangements by the mandolinist. Usually a dicey affair, transcriptions using instruments other than those for which the piece was originally composed pays off for Avital. Bach provides Avital a platform to demonstrate his crystalline articulation and attention to detail. The "Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041," originally for violin, will more than likely be most familiar, yet Avital's arrangement and performance are fresh and refreshing. His approach also expands the exposure for this music, perhaps stimulating an interest in the original instrumentation. The concept and production of this recording are both measured and smart, creating a fine addition to the catalog and contemporary performance repertoire.

Track Listing: Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052R (originally for violin); Concerto in G minor, BWV 156R (originally for oboe); Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041 (originally for violin); Sonata in E minor, BWV 1034 (originally for Flute).

Personnel: Avi Avital: mandolin; Shalev Ad-El: harpsichord; Ophira Zakai: theorbo; Kammerakademie Potsdam.

Title: Bach | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Deutsche Grammophon

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