The Drawing Power of Nicola Benedetti Used to Great Effect

By Jim Pritchard for Seen and Heard

Full article here
Vivaldi – The Four Seasons
Vivaldi – Concerto in G major RV310 ‘L’estro Armonico’ presented by local children
Turnage – Duetti d’amore
Tchaikovsky – Souvenir de Florence
That what was basically a chamber music concert could fill the Royal Albert Hall was credit to the drawing power of one of the finest young violinists of this generation, Nicola Benedetti. The playing of an accomplished ensemble – until the school children were involved there was never more than 11 musicians on stage – held everyone in the hall transfixed by their virtuosity. A remarkable thing was that there were many primary school-age children in the audience around me and all were extremely attentive and engaged by the music. Hopefully they will not ‘grow out of it’. The future of classical music is in safe hands with someone like Nicola Benedetti who seems able to inspire young people to a lifelong passion through music’s ability to inspire, entertain, intrigue, sometimes bemuse, but nearly always lift the human spirit.
I will not soon forget Italy and The Four Seasons but it was a very low-key event and rather like an inflated lunchtime concert that you might encounter at somewhere smaller than the Royal Albert Hall or any of the other venues on Nicola Benedetti’s 11-date UK tour. Benedetti has explained the idea behind the music we heard as follows: ‘I am so looking forward to touring this incredible programme around the great halls of the UK and Ireland. Italy’s place in the cultural landscape of Europe is unparalleled. This is reason enough for it to be a central theme for this tour but my own personal heritage gives it extra poignancy for me.’
It was clear from this performance that Nicola Benedetti is keen to stick to her classical roots and not go down the path of more flamboyant and ‘middle of the road’ superstar-violinists such as Nigel Kennedy … to name just one. Throughout this concert she was a team player – a virtuoso amongst virtuosi. And this was despite the 12 photos of her in the programme and only one thumbnail of her cellist partner Leonard Elschenbroich (he must have been pleased) and none of the rest of the musicians. This was in no way a Nicola Benedetti recital because the musicians were integral to the pieces we heard and I was left wishing that we could have heard one complete work (The Four Seasons) and a few shorter works including a couple of solos from Nicola herself….