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Classical - Released July 12, 2019 | Decca

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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

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

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


Nicola Benedetti in the magazine