18 MAY 2021

Mario Brunello
cello piccolo

Mario Brunello is a captivating musician who plays with an expressive freedom rarely found today. The Italian cellist — equally at home as soloist, chamber musician, and project innovator — has been praised by Gramophone for his “great spirit” and described as “intense and passionate” by The Strad.

Brunello made his breakthrough in 1986 as the first and only Italian to win the coveted International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Since then, Brunello’s heartfelt playing has earned him appearances with such leading conductors as Antonio Pappano, Valery Gergiev, Riccardo Chailly, Ton Koopman, Riccardo Muti, Myung-Whun Chung and Seiji Ozawa, and concerto performances with many of the world’s foremost ensembles, including the London Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the NHK Symphony Tokyo, the Kioi Sinfonietta, the Filarmonica della Scala and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. As a chamber musician, Brunello has forged fruitful partnerships with Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Martha Argerich, Andrea Lucchesini, Giuliano Carmignola, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Isabelle Faust, Maurizio Pollini and the Borodin Quartet. As the creator and artistic director of Arte Sella and I Suoni delle Dolomiti festivals, Brunello has also brought music of the highest calibre to the Dolomite peaks.

Among Brunello’s engagements for the season 2019-20 are concerts in Warsaw with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, in Moscow with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra and in Yerevan as a guest of the Contemporary Classics Festival. His ongoing collaboration with Kremerata Baltica continues with appearances at the Kronberg Festival — together with Gidon Kremer — and with a tour of South America in the double role of soloist and conductor. Brunello also continues to serve as artist-in-residence of the Philharmonie Zuidnederland.

Brunello plays a precious Maggini cello crafted in the early 1600s. He has, however, grown increasingly fond in recent years of the “cello piccolo”. The cello piccolo — as its name implies, a smaller version of the cello — shares the tuning of a violin, as well as something of the latter’s nimble handling, while retaining much of the resonance and depth of the former. Brunello has exploited the full potential of this instrument in revelatory performances of the baroque violin repertoire, focusing on the masterpieces of Bach, Vivaldi and Tartini.

This season coincides with the 250th anniversary of Giuseppe Tartini, which Brunello will celebrate with an extended homage to the composer, whose works he will perform and record alone as well as in collaboration with the Accademia dell’Annunciata.

His recent recording of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, performed on a cello piccolo, represents both the fulfillment of Brunello’s artistic dream and an extraordinary opportunity for the public to discover these familiar works in a deeply expressive and refreshingly new sound experience. This recording inaugurates the new “Bach Brunello” series in collaboration with the Arcana label. The complete three-CD series will feature violin masterpieces on the cello piccolo.

Brunello’s richly diverse discography includes recordings of the works of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Vivaldi, Haydn, Chopin, Janaček, and Sollima. His five-CD set on the EGEA label features his performances of Tavener’s “The Protecting Veil” with the Kremerata Baltica and his award-winning recording of Bach’s Cello Suites. Also worthy of note are his Deustche Grammophon release of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto under the baton of Claudio Abbado; his Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, conducted by Antonio Pappano (EMI); and his stunning live performance video of Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2, conducted by Valery Gergiev in the Salle Pleyel in Paris.