Reflecting a blend of genres, Between Worlds is Grammy-nominated mandolin player Avi Avital's second album for Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Music Classics, slated for release on January 14, 2014. Avital embraces both improvisational and traditional music with this new record, combining elements of classical and traditional folk resulting in a rich and adventurous musical journey.
Avital returns to New York City for a Carnegie Hall performance on January 17, 2014 on the heels of the release of Between Worlds. He also returns to the U.S. in March for additional dates to be announced, followed by a concert on April 1, 2014 as part of the annual Savannah Music Festival.
Between Worlds is Avital's follow-up to his well received 2012 DG debut Bach, featuring his own transcriptions of the composer's concertos for harpsichord and violin, in arrangements for mandolin and orchestra. Between Worlds now finds Avital exploring Bartók and de Falla, then traveling from Georgian and Bulgarian folk dances to South American songs and Yiddish melodies. "The mandolin has a mixed identity that lies somewhere between classical and popular music – rather like the Russian balalaika and the Greek bouzouki. That was my starting point," explains Avital. On Between Worlds, Avital surrounded himself not only with a hand-picked chamber ensemble, but also with figures in other musical genres including French jazz accordionist Richard Galliano, and Argentine-born Israeli clarinetist Giora Feidman, a klezmer virtuoso who has been a great influence on Avital's life and musicianship. "I met him in 2005 and we immediately became friends. Giora Feidman took klezmer music that Eastern European Jews used to play at weddings, parties and funerals – music that was almost lost after the Second World War – and he brought it into the concert hall. He preserved the power and essence of klezmer music, but introduced it into a different context."
Raised in Israel, Avi discovered the mandolin when he was a young boy. "In the town where I grew up, there was a mandolin orchestra with thirty or forty players," he recalls. "That impressed me very much as a child. An older friend played in the orchestra and it seemed to be fun. I asked my parents if I could play in the orchestra too, and that's how it all began. I was eight when I began to learn the instrument, and two years later I was a member of the orchestra."