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Classical - Released January 1, 2010 | Decca (UMO)

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
In her previous recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, Nicola Benedetti displayed a varied repertoire that ranged from works by Vaughan Williams and Tavener to MacMillan and Szymanowski, which are not exactly eccentric choices but somewhat outside the usual programming for young virtuoso violinists. Yet the time has come for Benedetti to take on the blockbusters of her profession, and the violin concertos by Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky and Max Bruch on this 2011 release are central to the genre. Supported by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Jakub Hrusa, Benedetti plays with flexibility and a sweet expression that is slightly introspective and poignant in the lyrical passages, but assured and outgoing in the flashy sections. There is no question that she has grown into these challenging pieces and has both the emotional maturity and technical acumen to bring them off. But they still feel like youthful performances, fresh in spirit and bright in sound, so they will appeal to an audience that prizes those qualities over an older violinist's more seasoned approach. Even so, in the Bruch, Benedetti evokes enough of that concerto's autumnal feeling in her darker tone to balance her effervescence in the Tchaikovsky. Deutsche Grammophon's reproduction is exceptional, giving Benedetti a natural placement in media res, while bringing out all the details in the orchestral accompaniment. © TiVo
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Classical - Released May 15, 2020 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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This is a big outing for violinist Nicola Benedetti: the Elgar Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61, is a difficult work both technically and interpretively, and although it has been popular on recordings since the first one appeared in 1929, it is not exactly a crowd-pleaser; Benedetti scores here with a reading that steers a middle path between some well-established approaches. The Elgar concerto has an unusually wide range of interpretations of the tempo markings, with total timings clocking in at anywhere from 42 minutes (Jascha Heifetz) to 54 minutes (Nigel Kennedy, in one of the favored recordings of the last two decades of the 20th century). Benedetti comes in just shy of 47 minutes, and she catches the liquid speed of Heifetz while leaving room for the "awfully emotional, too emotional" quality Elgar himself described of the work. Her entrance in the first movement doesn't have quite the magnetic lyricism of Menuhin's, but her turns through the music's double stops and general veering quality generate quite a bit of momentum in both the first movement and the finale, interrupted quite effectively by a very free third-movement cadenza. For those wanting to hear Benedetti show what she can do in a more sentimental mood, the curtain is rung down by a trio of short violin-and-piano pieces, with Petr Limonov providing sensitive, quiet accompaniment. A fine Elgar concerto that can stand comparison with the other big ones on the market. © TiVo
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Classical - Released July 12, 2019 | Decca

Hi-Res Booklet
The great African-American jazz trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis, born in 1961, expands his extensive and diverse musical repertoire every year. His Violin Concerto in D – like those of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky (Sibelius’ is in D minor) – was made especially for violinist Nicola Benedetti. In fact, the incredibly versatile jazz virtuoso admits that the work takes inspiration from her life and the way she “enlightens and delights communities all over the world with the magic of her virtuosity”.“Scored for symphony orchestra, with tremendous respect for the demands of that instrument, it is nonetheless written from the perspective of a jazz musician and New Orleans bluesman” writes Wynton Marsalis. “We believe that all human beings are connected in the essential fundamentals of life: birth, death, love, and laughter; that our most profound individual experiences are also universal (especially pain); and acknowledging the depth of that pain in the context of a groove is a powerful first step towards healing”.The piece is skilfully composed in four movements and is a delightful montage of sounds from one of today’s most world-renowned virtuosos, with jazz influences and a style like that of Stravinsky’s American period which was itself a patchwork of all different types of music. The Fiddle Dance Suite for Solo Violin is a kind of 21st century urban “Sonata” or “Partita” in five movements which fuse Irish and American influences in a clever mix of folk and scholarly music, a fusion that Bach was well accustomed to and which Marsalis now brings to the modern world with a softness and sense of humour. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet
Nicola Benedetti's Homecoming: A Scottish Fantasy is the violinist's tribute to her native land, in celebration of Scotland's Year of Homecoming 2014. Of primary interest to classical fans is Max Bruch's Scottish Fantasy in E flat major, a large-scale Romantic concerto based on Scottish folk music, and Benedetti gives a transparent and brilliant performance that alleviates some of the work's heavy Germanic character. Bruch's free use of Scottish folk songs as themes, including some melodies of Robert Burns, suggested the three arrangements that immediately follow it, Ae fond kiss; My love is like a red, red, rose; and Auld Lang Syne, three of the poet's best-known songs. The rest of the program consists of other traditional Scottish tunes, and Benedetti pours her warmest expressions into these airs. In two songs, Bothan a bh'aig Fionnghuala and Coisich a Rùin, Benedetti is joined by Julie Fowlis, whose fluent delivery in Gaelic gives the songs authentic color and texture. Even though this album has been promoted in connection with public festivities, such as the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup, it is actually a personal and intimate album, thanks to Benedetti's ingratiating playing and the poignant tone of many of the selections. © Blair Sanderson /TiVo
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Classical - Released July 1, 2016 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet
“Only” forty years separate these two Concertos, one by the master Glazounov written in 1904, and one by his disciple, written in 1947. But within those forty years, the world witnessed the Russian Revolution, Stalin’s Terror and the horrors of WWII, enough change to radically alter the musical landscape in Russia. Where Glazounov is still writing in a post-romantic, incandescent lyricism, both nostalgic and tender, poignant and hard-hitting, Chostakovitch closes himself off in a language stuck somewhere between disheartened sarcasm and the thrill of escape, exuberant in its hopelessness and the gaiety of death… Only the final Burlesque seems to be inspired by the “old” Russia. The Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti (we know, the name is misleading), whose career took off very early and who is never one to shy away from playing both classical and jazz, has delivered a brilliant rendition of both of these very different, yet very complimentary pieces. @SM/Qobuz.
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Classical - Released May 15, 2020 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

This is a big outing for violinist Nicola Benedetti: the Elgar Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61, is a difficult work both technically and interpretively, and although it has been popular on recordings since the first one appeared in 1929, it is not exactly a crowd-pleaser; Benedetti scores here with a reading that steers a middle path between some well-established approaches. The Elgar concerto has an unusually wide range of interpretations of the tempo markings, with total timings clocking in at anywhere from 42 minutes (Jascha Heifetz) to 54 minutes (Nigel Kennedy, in one of the favored recordings of the last two decades of the 20th century). Benedetti comes in just shy of 47 minutes, and she catches the liquid speed of Heifetz while leaving room for the "awfully emotional, too emotional" quality Elgar himself described of the work. Her entrance in the first movement doesn't have quite the magnetic lyricism of Menuhin's, but her turns through the music's double stops and general veering quality generate quite a bit of momentum in both the first movement and the finale, interrupted quite effectively by a very free third-movement cadenza. For those wanting to hear Benedetti show what she can do in a more sentimental mood, the curtain is rung down by a trio of short violin-and-piano pieces, with Petr Limonov providing sensitive, quiet accompaniment. A fine Elgar concerto that can stand comparison with the other big ones on the market. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2011 | Decca (UMO)

From the start of her career, violinist Nicola Benedetti has shown strong interest in playing a variety of works, from big Romantic blockbusters, such as concertos by Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky and Max Bruch, to compositions by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Karol Szymanowski, John Tavener, and James MacMillan. Judging from these choices, one might expect her to stick with the 19th and 20th century repertoire, yet for Italia, her 2011 Decca release, she has made a surprising leap back in time to the Baroque era of Antonio Vivaldi, Giuseppe Tartini, and Francesco Veracini. Accompanied by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Christian Curnyn, Benedetti plays with brilliant virtuosity, absolute clarity, and a gentle, dolce tone that makes her performances especially personal and attractive. The minimal vibrato in Benedetti's playing gives it an authentic sheen, which is complemented by the ensemble's period sound in the concertos, as well as by the scintillating continuo part in the sonatas. Two of Vivaldi's vocal works in violin arrangements are included, "Vedrò con mio diletto" from Il Giustino, and the solo motet, Nulla in mundo pax sincera, both of which Benedetti offers with affecting sincerity and charm. Add to the exceptionally stylish playing the resonant performance space, and Decca's flawless reproduction, which captures the performances with full luster, and this album will be regarded as one of Benedetti's most appealing and popular. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2012 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet
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Classical - Released January 1, 2006 | Decca (UMO)

The good news keeps on coming from the bow of Italian-Scots youngster Nicola Benedetti, who takes on the king of all the warhorses, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64, for her second album, and delivers a fresh, well-worked-out interpretation. Benedetti, with expert support from the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields under James MacMillan, avoids any overwrought quality that might have been brought on by the pressures of making a high-profile recording in a shrinking major-label classical environment. Indeed, her entire conception of the Mendelssohn concerto is not only smaller in scale than might have been expected, it is smaller than the modern norm for the work. The difference is apparent right from the concerto's striking opening, where many violinists try to crank out auditorium-sized sound to match the swelling stormy passions in the orchestral strings. Benedetti, here and throughout, is slender in tone and strongly oriented toward distinctively shaping the work's individual melodies. Technically she is very sharp, and in faster passages she's rather sprite-like. Her reading of the long first movement is full of nice details that fill out her reflective, poetic conception. Hear the almost vanishing high note just before the beginning of the coda, for example -- it's like a fading shard of a firework. The concerto as a whole comes off as somewhat episodic in Benedetti's hands; the normally sharp contrast between the intense opening movement and the repose of the Andante is reduced. Her interpretation accords with that of German violinist Joseph Joachim, quoted in the booklet (which contains useful text, imprisoned by miserable graphic design), who called Mendelssohn's "the most inward, the heart's jewel" of the great German violin concertos. Benedetti herself conducts the two rather slight single-movement pieces for violin and orchestra and sets up numerous moments of pure charm for her own violin. The album winds down nicely with warm, lyrical music that complements the Mendelssohn, although things deteriorate toward the end. The violin-and-harp arrangement of the Schubert Ave Maria (track 7) breaks the flow of orchestral music in a cheesy way, and From Ayrshire, the compositional contribution by conductor MacMillan, diverges from the bright, youthful mood of the rest of the music-making. Even in these works, however, Benedetti's playing is quite compelling. If there is a future for charismatic classical "stars," marketed by big labels and touring the famous concert halls of the world, it lies with young artists like this one, who keep their wits about them and figure out what it is that they hope to communicate to audiences. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2009 | Decca (UMO)

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Classical - Released January 1, 2007 | Decca (UMO)

At less than 20 years of age at the time of its recording, this third album of Scottish-born violinist Nicola Benedetti marks her continuing maturation and seeming desire to perform works still in the classical tradition yet slightly apart from the core repertoire. Recognizing that Benedetti's bright, ethereal, scintillating sound is among her many strengths, the program for this album is perfectly suited for her. Opening with Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending, Benedetti immediately sets the tone that will prevail throughout the entire album; tone production and emotive output -- not technique or power -- are the driving forces here. Benedetti's sound in The Lark is completely hypnotic; supported by the warm, velvety tone of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Andrew Litton, this reading of Vaughan Williams' masterpiece is the most evocative of the poem's text in recollection. The remainder of the album is devoted to the works of John Tavener. Benedetti's first album featured a markedly short work written for her by Tavener, Fragment for the Virgin. Tavener was so taken with her performance and sound that he has since written several works (included on this album) for her. The first, and probably most recognizable, is Song for Athene, who many listeners will recognize from the conclusion of the funeral for Princess Diana. Tavener arranged the work for violin (specifically, for Benedetti) and strings. The remainder of the album contains additional works Tavener composed for Benedetti, each of which feature Tavener's trademark ethereal qualities, again playing to the strengths of his favored soloist. Anyone looking for some high-quality violin playing with repertoire a little outside the box will not be disappointed by this offering. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Decca (UMO)

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Classical - Released July 12, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet
Jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis' first forays into classical music in the 1980s were celebrated as some kind of unique breakthrough, but that overlooked the fact that Marsalis was classically trained at the Juilliard School, absorbed all kinds of traditions, and has always had aspirations in the classical sphere. Credit Marsalis with broad ambitions when he turns to classical composition, as in his Pulitzer Prize-winning oratorio Blood on the Fields (1997), and again here with a Violin Concerto and Fiddle Dance Suite, written for violinist Nicola Benedetti. Both works are impressive, not least in their idiomatic writing for the violin; they flatter Benedetti considerably. The Violin Concerto is in some respects the concerto for the instrument that Charles Ives never wrote. Not only are there polystylistic march passages that sound a great deal like Ives, but Marsalis draws on the early 20th century American in other respects. Sample the third-movement "Blues," which in addition to that style broadens out into a sort of gospel church service. This is something Ives would have loved. Moreover, there is the range of styles in the work: jazz and blues are present, but only as one element of a palette. The final "Hootenanny" picks up where Copland left off in terms of old-time country music. Marsalis sticks with traditional styles, more Scottish than American, in the Fiddle Dance Suite that rounds out the album. Leave aside the novelty of an African American composer writing a movement called "Nicola's Strathspey" and just enjoy the original harmonic universe Marsalis spins out of this dance. The Philadelphia Orchestra, not much heard on recordings in recent years, sounds great under conductor Cristian Măcelaru, and all in all this is a strong outing on the classical side from Marsalis, and a productive stretch for Benedetti as well. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2012 | Decca (UMO) (Classics)

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Classical - Released January 1, 2008 | Decca (UMO)

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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Nicola Benedetti's Homecoming: A Scottish Fantasy is the violinist's tribute to her native land, in celebration of Scotland's Year of Homecoming 2014. Of primary interest to classical fans is Max Bruch's Scottish Fantasy in E flat major, a large-scale Romantic concerto based on Scottish folk music, and Benedetti gives a transparent and brilliant performance that alleviates some of the work's heavy Germanic character. Bruch's free use of Scottish folk songs as themes, including some melodies of Robert Burns, suggested the three arrangements that immediately follow it, Ae fond kiss; My love is like a red, red, rose; and Auld Lang Syne, three of the poet's best-known songs. The rest of the program consists of other traditional Scottish tunes, and Benedetti pours her warmest expressions into these airs. In two songs, Bothan a bh'aig Fionnghuala and Coisich a Rùin, Benedetti is joined by Julie Fowlis, whose fluent delivery in Gaelic gives the songs authentic color and texture. Even though this album has been promoted in connection with public festivities, such as the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup, it is actually a personal and intimate album, thanks to Benedetti's ingratiating playing and the poignant tone of many of the selections. © Blair Sanderson /TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet
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Classical - Released July 1, 2016 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet
This has the look of a career-making recording from Scots violinist Nicola Benedetti, putting her up against difficult repertory that diverges from the crowd-pleasing fare that formed the basis of her career up to this album. It would have been hard to predict just how well she pulls off her task here; few could have heard the profound interpreter of Russian music in the Italia and Silver Violin collections from earlier in the 2010s. The Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 99, is an emotionally thorny work in five movements anchored by a tense passacaglia in the middle. The composer withheld it from publication during the period of renewed Stalinist repression in the late 1940s. It was premiered in 1955 by David Oistrakh, and in endurance and elevated tone even if not quite in lyrical grandeur, Benedetti brings that master to mind. Sample the Stravinskian "Burlesque" finale for a sense of how Benedetti gets outside herself here. The Glazunov Violin Concerto, Op. 82, is a more stable work, rooted in pre-WWI conservatory traditions, and Benedetti's reading is nothing short of letter-perfect. Her sense of ensemble with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Kirill Karabits is so natural that it's hard to tell who's running the show. A real artistic triumph for one of the U.K.'s most exciting young musicians. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet
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Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Decca (UMO)

Artist

Nicola Benedetti in the magazine