GRAMMY award-winning violinist Nicola Benedetti today releases a new album on Decca Classics, exploring music by one of Britain’s best loved composers, Edward Elgar. At its heart is the composer’s beloved Violin Concerto in B minor, which sits alongside three short works for violin and piano: Salut d’Amour, Sospiri and Chanson de Nuit. Released digitally worldwide, Nicola is accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Jurowski, and pianist Petr Limonov.
Premiered by Fritz Kreisler in 1910, Elgar’s Violin Concerto is considered one of the most technically demanding. “The first thing to spot is Benedetti’s confident ease and sparkle during the many double-stopped passages, executed at lightning speed across the instrument’s range,” says The Times. “Yet beyond sheer agility, Benedetti offers listeners something even more valuable: a dynamic personal interpretation, refreshing and convincing.”
The heartfelt adagio Sospiri was written in the lead up to WW1 and was originally intended as a companion piece to Salut d’Amour (Elgar’s first published work in 1888) but what emerged was a more intense piece. Both works were originally written for string orchestra but are performed here in the composer’s own arrangements for violin and piano alongside the charming Chanson de Nuit.
Of these works for violin and piano, The Guardian writes,”Benedetti and pianist Petr Limonov are quiet and pensive, her violin silky-toned, the sound scaled back but just as electric. Sospiri is beautifully done, Benedetti’s tone silky and contained yet electric; it’s an initially bleak picture of despair that lifts just slightly into something hopeful at the end. Salut d’Amour sounds fresh, and is played with an understated sigh that draws the ear in.”
“The depth of love and fascination I have for this man and his music has made this entire process a dream. He was so out of the ordinary, from his non-traditional training to his understanding of people to his style of expression in music – there is only one Edward Elgar, and I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to record so much of his music.”
Well-known for her steadfast commitment to education, Nicola has been running a series of online educational events through her Benedetti Foundation which complement the release of this new album. The first, #salutnicky, invited musicians to learn and perform Salut d’amour, with daily tutorials from Nicola herself. The second, #chansonchallenge, encouraged musicians create a music video with the help of Nicky and Lucy Drever, who leads the Benedetti Foundation’s general musicianship programme.