Between Worlds: Avi Avital
With mandolin players such as Avi Avital and Chris Thile doing such wondrous things with Bach et al, you might be forgiven for thinking the guitar is in danger of losing its place as the crossover plucked instrument of choice in the classical realm. Well, maybe not just yet. But Avital’s follow-up to his superb recording of Bach concertos (11/12) only confirms what we already knew: that here is a musician who recognises no boundaries except those of good taste, and who has the artistry to persuade listeners to follow him anywhere.
This time, joined by a stellar line-up of soloists (including another formidable Bachian, accordionist Richard Galliano) Avital explores traditional music as seen through the lens of ‘classical’ composers, an exploration to which both Avital and the mandolin are ideally suited. Not only that but the different textures afforded by different configurations – ranging from mandolin and harp to mandolin and orchestra with various combinations of winds, strings and plucked and percussion instruments in between – bring out the distinctive flavours of the music of the composer and the folk tradition he’s drawing on.
This is as true in a wild Georgian, Romanian or Bulgarian dance courtesy of Sulkhan Tsintsadze, Bartók or ‘trad’ as it is of a soft, dark Spanish song from Falla’s Siete Canciones populares españolas or the gorgeous setting of Hen Ferchetan by Avital and harpist Catrin Finch, with which the recording ends. And through it all, again, is Avital’s mandolin, not just singing but laughing and crying in equal measure.