Invitation to mandolin magic

Kölner Akademie with mandolin concerts at the Weserbergland Music Weeks

Even though the mandolin has now been replaced as instrument of the year, it continues to enjoy great popularity – including with the Kölner Akademie, which continues to enjoy realizing projects with the Israeli mandolinist Alon Sariel.

The CD production took place last week is dedicated to repertoire from the Austrian region. The concert that the Kölner Akademie gave together with Alon Sariel under the direction of Michael Alexander Willens at the Weserbergland Music Weeks in Bevern on May 12th took the audience to Italy.

The program was entitled “Mandolin Magic” and took the audience to two of Italy’s most important musical centers, Venice and Naples. The composer Giovanni Paisiello, who was born in Taranto on May 9, 1740, worked in Naples.

The son of a veterinary surgeon, he was actually supposed to study law, but entered the conservatory in Naples at the age of 13, where he trained as a musician for nine years. Initially, his compositional focus was primarily on masses, oratorios and psalms, before he also devoted himself to the genre of opera. His first “Dramatic Intermezzo” was such a success that the Neapolitan theaters took notice of him. His fame quickly spread throughout Italy and his operas were performed in Parma, Bologna, Florence, Modena and Rome in addition to Naples. Only a short time later, only Domenico Cimarosa was still considered the (only) serious competitor. This also brought him to the attention of the Russian Tsarina Catherine II, who appointed him to St. Petersburg in 1776. In 1784, he returned to Naples via Vienna, from where he went to Paris for a short time in 1802 at Napoleon’s request. However, his operas were not well received there, so he quickly returned to Naples. After initially being allowed to keep his old post there, he lost it as well as lucrative additional income due to Bourbon rule. He finally died completely impoverished in Naples in 1816. In addition to his numerous dramatic works, Paisiello also wrote vast quantities of instrumental works, which are unfortunately less well known. The Kölner Akademie now wants to change this with regard to the mandolin concertos.