Review: ★★★★★ The Times Edinburgh Festival/Academy of Ancient Music/ Vivaldi & Telemann
The Times, Academy of Ancient Music, Queens Hall Edinburgh
‘Nicola Benedetti is on such sensational form at present that she could play the Midlothian Yellow Pages and still mesmerise a crowd.’
With due respect to Simon Rattle et al, I will be amazed if the music programme at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival produces anything more electrifying than the first piece played on the first morning. Normally I go into a coma when I see the word Vivaldi on a programme, and full rigor mortis if Telemann follows — but Nicola Benedetti is on such sensational form at present that she could play the Midlothian Yellow Pages and still mesmerise a crowd.
And Vivaldi’s Concerto in D, RV208, the “Grosso mogul”, is even more interesting than that. In fact it’s arguably the most challenging violin concerto written before Beethoven, full of ferociously virtuosic passagework yet with a contrasting wistfulness that needs poise and subtlety. Benedetti, holding her bow in the baroque manner at least four inches from the frog, supplied all that and suppleness too, with minimum vibrato and a timbre whittled to a sinuous silken thread.
Great work, too, from the Academy of Ancient Music led from the harpsichord by Richard Egarr. They had their fun later, evoking all the bizarre onomatopoeic effects of two of Telemann’s most pictorial works.
Photo Mihaela Bodlovic