Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, etc.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
If Nicola Benedetti's debut album skirted the mainstream fringe of the repertoire by featuring a seductive but little-known violin concerto by Szymanowski, her sophomore release takes aim at the heart of the canon with a performance of one of the most eternally popular of all violin works, the lyrical concerto of Felix Mendelssohn. Benedetti's sweet tone makes for an ingratiating reading of this music, bringing an especially fresh and youthful presence to the effervescent finale. Equally light on their feet are the members of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, providing a perfectly matched accompaniment for the soloist under James MacMillan's direction. As with ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
If Nicola Benedetti's debut album skirted the mainstream fringe of the repertoire by featuring a seductive but little-known violin concerto by Szymanowski, her sophomore release takes aim at the heart of the canon with a performance of one of the most eternally popular of all violin works, the lyrical concerto of Felix Mendelssohn. Benedetti's sweet tone makes for an ingratiating reading of this music, bringing an especially fresh and youthful presence to the effervescent finale. Equally light on their feet are the members of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, providing a perfectly matched accompaniment for the soloist under James MacMillan's direction. As with her debut, Benedetti fills out this disc with a selection of shorter pieces, both old and new. Mostly, they showcase the violinist's tenderly expressive side, especially Mozart's Adagio, K. 261, and a new arrangement of Schubert's "Serenade" ("Leise flehen meine Lieder," originally from the Schwanengesang). A graceful performance of Mozart's Rondo, K. 373, and a quietly touching arrangement of Schubert's "Ave Maria" for violin and harp also prepare the way for the album's climax, the world premiere recording of MacMillan's From Ayrshire. Written for Benedetti, its title refers to the county in Scotland that both composer and violinist come from. This intriguing work evokes a mysteriously hushed landscape in its opening movement and a more boisterous dance in its brief conclusion, pushing Benedetti in both cases toward more unusual and even unrestrained forms of expression that are just as engaging as the rest of her performances on this appealing album.
All Music Guide - James Manheim
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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/14/2006
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • UPC: 028947631590
  • Catalog Number: 000768202
  • Sales rank: 69,422

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–3 Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 - James MacMillan & Felix Mendelssohn (27:41)
  2. 2 Adagio for violin & orchestra in E major, K. 261 - James MacMillan & Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (6:46)
  3. 3 Rondo for violin & orchestra in C major, K. 373 - James MacMillan & Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (5:33)
  4. 4 Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957: Serenade (Leise flehen meine Lieder, D 957) - James MacMillan & Franz Schubert (4:13)
  5. 5 Ellens Gesang III ("Ave Maria"), song for voice & piano, D. 839 (Op. 52/6) - James MacMillan & Franz Schubert (5:10)
  6. 8–9 Ayrshire, for violin & orchestra - James MacMillan & James MacMillan (7:10)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Nicola Benedetti Primary Artist
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