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Avner Dorman

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Mandolin Concerto (2006)
Work Notes
Order piano reduction from and
G Schirmer Inc
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Sub Category
String Orchestra
Year Composed
17 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Alternate Orchestration
Mandolin, pf
Programme Note
Avner Dorman Mandolin Concerto (2006)
Jacob Reuven, mandolin
Avner Biron, conductor
Israel Camerata Orchestra Jerusalem

Composer’s Note:

One of my favorite things as a composer is to discover and explore new instruments. When Avi Avital approached me to write a concerto for him, my acquaintance with the mandolin was fairly limited. I had used it in chamber pieces only twice before, and did not know most of the repertoire for the instrument. As I got to know the instrument better, I discovered its diverse sonic and expressive possibilities.

The concerto’s main conflicts are between sound and silence and between motion and stasis. One of the things that inspired me to deal with these opposites is the Mandolin’s most basic technique – the tremolo, which is the rapid repetition of notes. The tremolo embodies both motion and stasis. The rapid movement provides momentum, while the pitches stay the same.

The concerto can be divided into three main sections that are played attacca:

1. A slow meditative movement with occasional dynamic outbursts. The tremolo and silences accumulate energy which is released in fast kinetic outbursts. The main motives of the piece are introduced, all of which are based on the minor and major second.

2. A fast dance like movement that accumulates energy leading to a culmination at its end. The tremolo is slowed down becoming a relentless repetition in the bass - like a heartbeat. The fast movement is constructed much like a Baroque Concerto and a Concerto Grosso. The solo and tutti alternate frequently and in many instances instruments from the orchestra join the Mandolin as additional soloists.

3. Recapitulation of the opening movement. After the energy is depleted, all that is left for the ending is to delve deeper into the meditation of the opening movement and concentrate on a pure melody and an underlying heartbeat.

I would like to thank Avi Avital for his dedication and commitment throughout the process of creating this piece; for many hours of experimenting with unusual techniques; for introducing me to the Mandolin’s vast repertoire, including Baroque Mandolin, Russian folk music, Bluegrass, Indian music, Brazilian Jazz and Avant-Garde; and for performing the piece with depth and virtuosity.

— Avner Dorman

  • Ensemble
    Metropolis Ensemble
    Avi, Avital (mandolin), Mindy Kaufman (piccolo), Eliran Avni (piano), Arnaud Sussmann (violin), Eric Nowlin (viola), Michal Korman (cello), Aya Hamada (piano)
    Andrew Cyr
  • Ensemble
    Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali
    Avi Avital, mandolin
    Carlo Boccadoro
    La Bottega Discantica:
  • 04 NOV 2017
    Neuhardenberg, Germany
    Kammerakademie Potsdam
    Avi Avital, mandolin; Meesun Hong Coleman, conductor
  • 07 AUG 2017
    Hamburg, Germany
    Kremerata Baltica
    Avi Avital, Mandolin

    Other Dates:
    8 August - Kiel, Germany
  • 13 MAY 2017
    Firenze, Italy
    Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
    Avi Avital; Zubin Mehta, conductor
  • 31 JAN 2017
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    Winnipeg Symphony
    Alexander Mickelthwaite, conductor
  • 24 JAN 2017
    Tel Aviv, Israel
    Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
    Avi Avital; Osmo Vänskä, conductor

    Other Dates:
    25 January - Tel Aviv, Israel
    29 January - Tel Aviv, Israel
  • 01 JAN 2017
    Köln, Germany
    Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
    Avi Avital, Mandolin; Lorenzo Viotti, conductor
  • 01 DEC 2016
    Atlanta, GA
    Atlanta Symphony
    Avi Avital; Laura Jackson, conductor

    Other Dates:
    3 December - Atlanta, GA
  • 01 DEC 2016
    Atlanta, GA
    Avi Avital; Laura Jackson, conductor
  • 10 OCT 2016
    19th Israeli Music Festival
    Elma Music Center Hall, Zichron Yaakov, Israel
    Israel Camerata Orchestra
    Yaki Reuven, mandolin; Avner Biron, conductor
  • 02 SEP 2016
    Potsdam, Germany
    Kammerakademie Potsdam
    Antonello Manacorda, conductor
  • 01 SEP 2016
    Kammerakademie Potsdam, Germany
    Kammerakademie Potsdam
    Avi Avital; Antonello Manacorda, conductor
  • 30 APR 2016
    Lincoln, NE
    Lincoln's Symphony Orchestra
    Avi Avital; Edward Polochick, conductor
  • 08 OCT 2015
    Orkiestra Kameralna Polskiego Radia
    Avi Avital, mandolin; Anna Duczmal-Mróz, conductor

    Other Dates:
    9 October - Poland
  • 07 JUL 2015
    Gezeiten Festival
    Wilhelmshaven, Germany
    Kremerata Baltica
    Avi Avital

    Other Dates:
    10 July 2016 - Festival Mitte Europa, Oelsnitz, Germany
    9 July - Audi Sommerkonzerte, Neuburg an der Donau, Germany
  • 06 JUN 2015
    Kiev, Ukraine
    New Era Orchestra
    Avi Avital; Tatyana Kalinichenko, conductor
  • 26 MAR 2015
    St Paul's Hall, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
    University of Huddersfield String Orchestra
    Taneli Clarke; David Milsom , conductor
  • 23 JAN 2015
    Orkiestra symfoniczna NFM we Wroclawiu
    Avi Avital, mandolin; Benjamin Shwartz, conductor
  • 17 JUN 2014
    Berlin, Germany
    Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin
    Avi Avital, Mandolin

    Other Dates:
    28 April 2017 - Novi Sad, Serbia
    29 April 2017 - Belgrad, Serbia
  • 10 MAY 2014
    Mandolin Concerto Country Premiere
    Tokyo, Japan
    Students of Kyoto City University of Arts
    Yasunobu Inoue, conductor
  • 30 JAN 2014
    Berlin, Germany
    Deutsche Kammerorchester Berlin
    Avi Avital, mandolin; Gabriel Adoján, conductor
  • 19 SEP 2013
    Belgrade, Serbia
    Belgrade Philharmonic
    Avi Vital; Alexander Rahbari, conductor
  • 29 JUN 2013
    Mandolin Concerto UK Premiere
    Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford
    Oxford Philomusica
    Karin Ben-Josef; Avi Avital, conductor
  • 10 JAN 2013
    Denver, CO
    Colorado Symphony Association
    Avi Avital; Yaakov Bergman, conductor
  • 29 SEP 2012
    Ensemble Del Arte
    Avi Avital, mandolin; Ariel Zuckermann, conductor
  • 15 APR 2012
    Witten, Germany
    Wurttembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn
    Avi Avital; Ruben Gazarian, conductor
  • 10 MAR 2012
    Doar Yaqum 60972, Israel
    The Netanya-Kibbutz Orchestra
    Avi Avital; Yaron Gottfried, conductor

    Other Dates:
    11,13-18 March - Doar Yaqum 60972, Israel
  • 27 JAN 2012
    Boston, MA
    Boston Modern Orchestra Project
    Avi Avital, mandolin; Gil Rose, conductor
  • 18 NOV 2011
    Güglingen, Germany
    Wurttembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn
    Avi Avital, mandolin; Ruben Gazarian, conductor

    Other Dates:
    19 November - Heilbronn, Germany
    20 November - Neuenstadt, Germany
  • 28 OCT 2011
    Orchestre National de Montpellier
    Avi Avital; Robert Tuohy, conductor
  • 28 APR 2011
    Mandolin Concerto Country Premiere
    Lucerne, Switzerland
    Israel Camerata
    Avi Avithal; Avner Biron, conductor

Indeed, it was for a work with an unlikely soloist, the Mandolin Concerto, written in 2006 for Avi Avital, that the disc has received the most attention. Avital’s incisive and nuanced performance has garnered a Grammy nomination. The Mandolin Concerto itself is one of the most adventurous works Dorman has yet composed. Its explorations of many timbres, orchestral effects, and myriad shifts of tempo & demeanor make it a dazzlingly mercurial and potent essay.
Christian Carey,,15/12/2010
Avner Dorman, a 35-year-old Israeli composer who completed his studies at the Juilliard School in 2006 and now lives in Los Angeles, writes with an omnivorous eclecticism that makes his music both accessible and impossible to pigeonhole. Themes with a modal, Middle Eastern accent often weave through sharp-edged, modernist harmonies; and the influences of jazz, pop and Indian music often crop up as well. Consistent hallmarks are the vigor of his writing and the virtuosity it demands of its interpreters. Baroque music has been another fascination of Mr. Dorman's: an early prelude, included on a 2006 Naxos recording of his piano works, was based on a Bach figure, and in the four concertos here, composed between 1995 and 2006, Mr. Dorman lets his neo-Baroquery run wild. The works are concise three-movement forms in the standard configuration, and though Mr. Dorman has not entirely jettisoned the rhythmic complexities that drive his other works, he has made them subsidiary to the chugging rhythms of the Baroque style. Lest that suggest that these concertos are lightweight pastiches, listen to the finale of the Piccolo Concerto (2001), a propulsive, harmonically acidic Presto that has the soloist, Mindy Kaufman, leaping perilously through her instrument's range. In the Mandolin Concerto (2006), the colorful solo line, played with stunning agility by Avi Avital, draws on all the usual mandolin techniques -- chordal tremolandos, singing melodies -- and adds bent pitches, high-velocity scampering (against sliding violin figures) and dynamic nuance. The Piano Concerto (1995) owes an obvious debt to Bach, but its solo line is restless: it makes its way from Bachian clarity to 19th-century storminess and contemporary brashness before returning to its neo-Baroque starting point. Eliran Avni is the eloquent soloist here, and Andrew Cyr's Metropolis Ensemble, a New York group, provides crisp, energetic support throughout the disc.
Allan Kozinn, New York Times,11/05/2010
Israeli composer Avner Dorman was trained at the Juilliard School and lives in Los Angeles, where he does some work on movie soundtracks. So Naxos is promoting him in its American Classics series. Be happy for it, because the four concertos assembled here are some of the most appealing new music heard in a long time. The Mandolin Concerto uses a lot of Middle Eastern motifs. The Piccolo Concerto could claim neoclassical Stravinsky as a godfather. The Concerto Grosso sounds like a minimalist take on Corelli. And the Piano Concerto in A hilariously uses a simple scale as a theme to poke fun at showy virtuosity. For all their eclecticism, these pieces reveal a strong common profile - with tragic ferocity lurking under the sparkling surfaces. The performances are stellar, the sound superb.
Lawson Taitte, The Dallas Morning News,23/02/2010
As readers probably already know, I'm not generally a fan of concertos for silly solo instruments, whether these be percussion (Dorman has two of those), tuba (except for Vaughan Williams), contrabassoon (Aho-yecch!), double bass, or what have you. That said, I have to confess that Dorman's Mandolin and Piccolo concertos are terrific. The former finds more timbral variety in this recalcitrant instrument than you would ever believe possible, and it seems to have been conceived with its potential in mind so as to turn any limitations to maximum expressive advantage. Soloist Avi Avital wails away at his mandolin as if his life depended on it. The same observations apply to the Piccolo Concerto; sure, it's sprightly (it has to be), but soloist Mindy Kaufman has a wonderful tone, an amazing facility with flutter-tonguing, and Dorman's sensitive use of such modernistic devices (or "ethnic," depending on your frame reference) as pitch-bending imbues the piece with real poetry. The Concerto Grosse takes Handel and Vivaldi as inspirations, but the slow-fast-slow form is quite unconventional, and the mixture of minimalist techniques, modernist tone clusters, and frankly melodic passages is exquisitely balanced for maximum variety and color. Dorman was only 19 when he wrote his Piano Concerto; it's the most conventional work on the disc, clearly neo-Baroque, but no less charming for that in soloist Eliran Avni's capable hands. The pianissimo conclusion reveals a composer of real sensitivity and wit. None of these pieces lasts longer than seventeen minutes, all bear repetition, and the Metropolis Ensemble under Andrew Cyr sounds absolutely terrific no matter what Dorman asks them to do. This is really good stuff, a genuine discovery, beautifully played and excellently engineered. It will make you feel good about the future of contemporary Classical music.
David Hurwitz,,10/02/2010
The music of Israeli composer Avner Dorman is so vivacious and so technically proficient that it's hard to resist on a superficial level. All it needs to make it fly is some original musical ideas. Instead, the four concertos on this disc - intriguingly scored ones for mandolin, piccolo and piano, as well as a concerto grosso - traffic almost exclusively in allusion and pastiche. Bach is a constant presence, especially in the Piano Concerto, but Dorman also leaps happily around among jazz, pop, Romanticism and Middle Eastern strains. The result is music you already know, shuffled and recombined into an appealingly glib package. Most rewarding is the Mandolin Concerto, which fuses Baroque and Middle Eastern gestures in unusual ways, and which ends with a surprising flourish.
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle,07/02/2010
The charm of Vivaldi’s mandolin concerto is even surpassed by Dorman’s concerto. The young composer has adapted himself to the specific characteristics of the extravagant instrument. It is evident: He has not only dedicated the concerto to Avital but also composed it in collaboration with the performer. The strengths of the instrument are without doubt the tremolo and the arpeggio. They characterize the work. But the work gets its impact from the interesting compositional language. Dorman evokes strongest emotions with slightest allusions of melodies in an ocean of atonal dissonances. These melancholic diatonic steps stand out in the meditative introduction and touch us emotionally. In the middle section it’s the exciting rhythms reminiscent of works by Astor Piazolla that thrill the listener. But Dorman does even more: since the thematic material is structured so effectively it remains in the listener’s mind; and therefore, we are surprised when we hear it again in the last section of the concerto – this time even more muted and melancholic, accompanied by clock-like bass pizzicati. The circle is closed. We suddenly understand: what is told here is the story of an organism that breathes its last breath. Such brilliantly composed contemporary music hasn’t been heard for a long time in the concert hall.
Jesko Schulze-Reimpell, Donaukurier ,01/03/2009
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