ELGAR Violin Concerto (Nicola Benedetti)

Record and Artist Details

Composer or Director: Vladimir Jurowski

Genre:

Orchestral

Label: Decca

Media Format: CD or Download

Mastering:

DDD

Catalogue Number: 485 0949

485 0949. ELGAR Violin Concerto (Nicola Benedetti)

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
Chanson de nuit Petr Limonov
Nicola Benedetti
Sospiri Petr Limonov
Nicola Benedetti
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra London Philharmonic Orchestra
Nicola Benedetti
Vladimir Jurowski Composer
Salut d'amour, 'Liebesgrüss' Nicola Benedetti
Petr Limonov

A sense of dignified reserve distinguishes Vladimir Jurowski’s handling of the Concerto’s opening tutti, with plenty of telling woodwind detail and a radiant orchestral statement of the lovely second subject. Thoughtful is how I’d describe Jurowski’s conducting, toughening for the darkened phrase (2'45") that precedes Nicola Benedetti’s rhapsodic opening monologue. The emergent effect is deeply conversational, Benedetti’s handling of the second idea in its solo guise, limpid and intimate. From around 8'50" she brings a sense of Brahmsian momentum to Elgar’s gutsy chordal writing, though the tutti that follows might have benefited from more in the way of drive and momentum, even defiance (such a prominent aspect of the work’s nature). Still, by now Benedetti is, in terms of the bow, singing her heart out, though I do sometimes sense that Jurowski is holding her in check. I’d have liked a more dialogic approach, though taken on its own terms the LPO play with plenty of feeling.

Perhaps the most moving aspect of this performance – also testimony to Benedetti’s knack of getting under the skin the piece – is the finale’s haunting accompanied cadenza, where above quietly strumming strings she indulges what seems like a stream of consciousness, wandering hither and thither to the likes of Brahms, Schumann and Paganini, before referencing one or other of the concerto’s salient themes as a reminder of where we really are. Elgar here seems to be indulging a sort of confessional, baring his musical soul, and Benedetti follows him every inch of the way. The slow movement is also very lovely, warm yet never overstated, whereas Sospiri, under the circumstances of writing this review (the horror and sadness of coronavirus), serves as a deeply moving memorial, such is the power of music to mark the moment. Affectionate playing too in Salut d’amour and, especially, Chanson de nuit, taken quite swiftly with a full, ripe tone, and nicely accompanied by Petr Liminov: Fauré springs to mind, maybe in Shylock mode. But the Concerto is the thing, Benedetti shining a beam on its reigning quality: sincerity. Nobility too; and although other digital versions (Ehnes, Hahn, Znaider, Kennedy etc) have also moved me, none that I can recall has made me more keenly aware of just what a great work this is, up there with the concertos of Brahms, Schumann and Tchaikovsky, that’s for sure.

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