2023 is the year of the mandolin – what could be more fitting than to put this much too little appreciated instrument at the center of a concert program?
In the program “La Speranza”, which will be heard in Grimbergen next weekend, mandolinist Alon Sariel, soprano Lore Binon and the Kölner Akademie under the direction of Michael Alexander Willens will take you on a journey into the world of early opera – instrumentally and vocally. It is little known that the delicate and charming plucked string instrument was used in the opera of the 18th century, especially in the very special moments. Probably the best-known example of this is the canzonetta from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”, in which a wealth of melody and refinement can be found. With selected arias from Albinoni’s Ciro, Lotti’s Teofane, Leo’s L’Olimpiade and Steffani’s Tassilone, Lore Binon moves effortlessly through the sensations and coloratura of the baroque heroines.
But the mandolin also comes into its own as a soloist at the upcoming concert, when largely unknown concertos by Emanuele Barbella and Johann Adolph Hasse are heard. The latter, an influential composer and singer, who with his wife, the famous soprano Faustina Bordoni, was one of the great attractions of the Dresden court, along with Tomaso Albinoni, who worked in the “Serenissima”.
The Neapolitan violinist and composer Emanuele Barbella enjoyed great popularity. He first studied with his father. After his father’s death, he studied with Pasquale Bini, a pupil of Tartini’s, and took composition lessons with Leonardo Leo, Barbella was active at several important institutions in Naples. From 1753 he was first violinist at the Teatro Nuovo. He was considered an insider of the scene, which is why he also guided the well-known music theorist Charles Burney through the musical life of the city during his stay in Naples. His compositions correspond to the gallant style, are quite pleasing and brim with “joie de vivre”. A wonderful example of this is his Mandolin Concerto, which the Kölner Akademie recorded together with mandolin superstar Alon Sariel.
Philharmonic hall, not jazz podium; Mozart festival not cult TV rock programme – back then, Alon had not foreseen how things would develop: back then, in 1994, when his music teacher told the eight-year-old that the mandolin and the electric guitar were “basically the same thing”. This was a momentous deception that was to deliver to the world of music one of the most versatile mandolin players, lutenists and ensemble directors of the present day. In his concert programmes, Alon uses the lute, Baroque guitar, oud and other plucked instruments to give his audiences the most diverse musical experiences. The mandolin, which has survived the centuries and found its place in the most varied of music styles and cultures, occupies a very special place in his heart.
Join him and the Kölner Akademie for a magical evening in the world of Baroque theater, where costly productions and competitions between star singers with top salaries attracted European high society to theaters, who identified with the mythologically inspired themes of opera. Be enchanted by the mandolin magic of Alon Sariel and the light, lyrical soprano of Lore Binon, who together with the Kölner Akademie and conductor Michael Alexander Willens bring together some of the finest Baroque performers of our time.