The Artistic Director
Mario Brunello is a captivating musician who plays with 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 the 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.
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 Deutsche 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.
In Autumn 2019 ARCANA, a sister company of OUTHERE, launched the “Bach Brunello Series” with the release of a first album dedicated to JS Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, performed on a rare four-string cello piccolo. This recording represents the fulfilment of Brunello’s artistic dream and an extraordinary opportunity for the listener to experience these familiar works in a manner both deeply expressive and refreshingly novel. The complete series of three CDs will feature performances of violin masterworks on the cello piccolo. Recently ARCANA has published a new album titled ‘Sonar in ottava’ featuring Double Concertos of JS Bach and Vivaldi with Mario Brunello cello piccolo, Giuliano Carmignola violin and the baroque ensemble Accademia dell’Annunciata.
Mario Brunello has been the Artistic Director of Stresa Festival since October 2020.