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BWW REVIEW: Avi Avital And The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra Present A Breathtaking Concert Filled With Energy And Emotion


Wednesday 26 October 2016, 7pm, City Recital Hall, Angel Place Sydney

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra's (ABO) charismatic Artistic Director and Conductor Paul Dyer has bought Grammy Award Nominated Mandolin player, Avi Avital, back to Australia for another captivating concert series, 2 years after his first appearance with the ABO in 2014. Beautiful 18th Century music, presented on Baroque instruments, is given a life and energy comparable to contemporary rock and pop, proving that music can be timeless when in the right hands.

Artistic Director and Conductor Paul Dyer (Photo: Supplied)

Drawing on the exotic sound of the mandolin, Dyer welcomes the audience into an intimate performance in a Moroccan lounge room, complete with Persian carpet and staiNed Glass and metal lanterns. This 'living room' focuses on a central, raised piano stool, which sits in front of Dyer's Harpsichord and is surrounded by the intimate orchestra's music stands. For this concert, the audience is treated to a paired back ABO with up to 3 First violins, 3 second violins, viola, cello, double bass and Dyer conducting from his position at the Harpsichord.

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (Photo: Supplied)

The program is weighted to Vivaldi with 4 of the Italian composers Concertos plus works by Valentini, Paisiello and a more contemporary work based on Georgian Folk Themes by Sulkhan Tsintsadze. The ABO strings and Dyer on Harpsichord start the night with Vivaldi's Concerto for Strings in C major, presenting a pulsing frenzied Allegro and a sensitive Largo before returning to a jovial and textured Allegro. The remainder of the concert includes a combination of ABO strings and Harpsichord accompanying Avital's mandolin.

Avi Avital with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (Photo: Supplied)

Works like Valentini's Concerto Grosso in A minor showcase the musicians connection to the music that goes beyond the instrument to be a whole body expression. The slow, tender and expressive music that lifts in gentle waves are expressed by each performer with a degree of physicality that sees them urge the notes to rise and float. This connection to the music that both the ABO and Avital express in more than just notes makes for a much more engaging performance than many other orchestras.

Avi Avital with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (Photo: Supplied)

In addition to expressing the tender emotion of the music, Avital captures the powerful frenzied phrases with a physicality reminiscent of rock guitarists, he just happens to be performing on a Baroque instrument. The varied sounds of the instruments blend to present wonderful moments of complementing each other along with highlighting contrasts. The mellow warmth of the string players gut strings, the metallic ringing of the Harpsichord and plucked tremolo of the Mandolin work together to create a textured and intricate sound and the performers present it with heart and sensitivity.

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra with Avi Avital is a wonderful showcase of instruments that people may or may not have heard before, in particular, the Mandolin. As always, the energetic Dyer coaxes the orchestra with an infectious energy and care and this is paired with Avital's beautiful manner and passionate playing. As with Australian Brandenburg Orchestra's other concerts, this is another entertaining, engaging and enlightening concert that is well worth seeing, regardless of how much you know about Baroque music and mandolins.


Sydney: City Recital Hall

26th October - 4th November 2016

Melbourne: Melbourne Recital Centre:

5th November and 6th November 2016

Brisbane: Queensland Performing Arts Centre

8 November 2016

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