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Mario Brunello

Concert cellist

Bach: complete works for the Cello (and beyond)

Mario Brunello has frequently performed Bach's complete works for the Cello and the greatest part of the violin repertoire on the Violoncello Piccolo, including the Solo Concertos. 

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, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Isabelle Faust, Maurizio Pollini and the Borodin Quartet. As the founder 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 a second instrument: 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 and the violinist Giuliano Carmigniola.

His soon-to-be-released recording of the Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, performed on the cello piccolo, represents both the fulfilment of Brunello’s artistic dream and an extraordinary opportunity for the listening public to experience these familiar works in a manner both deeply expressive and refreshingly novel.

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, the “Brunello Series”, features his performances of Tavener’s “The Protecting Veil” with the Kremerata Baltica and his award-winning traversal 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.