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Nicola Benedetti - The Silver Violin - BBC Music Magazine

17 October 2012
BBC Music
Erik Levi

It's somewhat ironic that the Korngold Violin Concerto, which forms the centrepiece of this generously filled album of music associated with the big screen, was once dismissed by critics on the grounds that its idiom was too closely allied to the composer's movie scores. Yet whereas other violinists have tended to obviate such associations by recording the work in tandem with another established concert, Nicola Benedetti's decision to place it in this particular context actually serves to enhance its musical stature.

Certainly her performance is beautifully honed with a particularly atmospheric account of the central Andante. Benedetti's tone in the haunting opening melody is not quite as burnished as that of Nikolaj Znaider on BMG, but she has an instinctive grasp of the ebb and flow of Korngold's melodic lines and avoids the obvious temptation of becoming overtly mannered in order to intensify the musical expression.

Although the recording sounds a little compressed, Kirill Karabits and the Bournemouth Symphony provide urgent and expressive support, especially relishing in Finale's good-natured humour and deliberately off-kilter harmonies.

As far as the rest of the programme is concerned, one might argue that too many items explore a similar mood of languor and melancholy and that a few works of a more upbeat nature might have provided greater contrast. Nevertheless, there's little doubt that Benedetti plays all the music with warmth and tenderness, and there are some worthwhile discoveries, not least the dark-hued Andante from Shostakovich's music for The Counterplan. The inclusion of the Mahler Piano Quartet, featured in Scorsese's film Shutter Island, is also welcome demonstrating Benedetti's prowess as a fine chamber musician, a role that she will hopefully pursue more extensively in a future release.

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