The Avison Ensemble


Several years ago cellist Gordon Dixon discovered a collection of 18th century music hidden away at the back of a cupboard. This turned out to be a number of concertos of the hitherto little known Newcastle born composer Charles Avison. Excited by the originality and freshness of the music Gordon formed The Avison Ensemble with the aim of enhancing public awareness of Avison and the many other neglected British composers of the baroque period.

Comprising some of Europe’s finest musicians, the Avison Ensemble performs on period instruments in order to recreate as close as possible the distinctive ‘sound world’ that the composers would have known.

The Avison Ensemble is unique in having its own composer along with a substantial repertoire of his music as yet unperformed in modern times. Miraculously they have added to this repertoire with the recent acquisition of two of Avison’s original workbooks, which contain many unpublished works by Avison and other 18th century composers.

Today, the Avison Ensemble introduces new audiences to classical music through touring, recording, subscription concerts and radio broadcasts. Most recently these include a collaboration with the Choir of Her Majesty the Queen’s Chapel Royal, numerous broadcasts for the BBC as part of the Ensemble’s “Live from the 18th century” concert series; recordings of concertos by Garth and Herschel for Cavalier Classics with cellist Anner Bylsmer and violinist Pavlo Beznosiuk; and the first ever complete recording of Charles Avison’s 12 concertos Op. 6 released by Naxos in July 2004.

February 2006 saw the release of the Avison Ensemble’s CD Charles Avison: Six Concertos Opus 3 & Eight Concertos Opus 4, again on the Naxos label. In 2007 they recorded the six cello concertos of the 18 th century Durham composer John Garth for Divine Art and Avison’s 12 Concertos based on Geminiani’s Violin Sonatas; 2008 saw the release of Avison’s 18 Concertos, opus 9 and opus 10 and his 12 Concerti Grossi after Scarlatti. This program was concluded in 2010, when the “Avison Recorded Edition” was completed by the op. 1 and 8 Sonatas, and finally the keyboard Sonatas, op. 5 and 7. The vast majority of these very fine works are receiving their first recording and both the opus 9/10 disc and the Garth Concertos recordings have been chosen as “Discs of the Week” by Classic FM.
DDA 21214 Avison: Trio and Keyboard Sonatas, Op. 1 and 8

DDA 21215 Avison: Harpsichord Sonatas, Op. 5 and 7