Violin Concertos by Glazunov and Shostakovich performed by Nicola Benedetti

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Glazunov,Shostakovich
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Glazunov • Shostakovich
WORKS: Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1: Glazunov: Violin Concerto
PERFORMER: Nicola Benedetti (violin); Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Kirill Karabits
CATALOGUE NO: 478 8758  

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After the brief foreboding orchestral introduction of the Shostakovich, Nicola Benedetti steals in quietly, with white, focused tone that continues the mood. Others have made more of a grand statement, but this approach is very effective, helped by the recording which allows us to hear Kirill Karabits’s control over balance and nuance. As the movement builds up, though, the solo line doesn’t always have the power needed to dominate, especially in the higher writing where something more muscular is needed.

Similarly, in the Scherzo, Benedetti tends to push the sound but doesn’t achieve a natural dominance in the more strenuous passages, where the solo part is often marked fff but is not always audible. She is on more solid ground in the long Passacaglia, where, after a nicely spacious setting of the scene by the horns, she shapes the plangent melodic line with skill: she’s slightly masked at the climax, but the orchestra is playing louder than marked. The cadenza is disappointingly literal at the outset, catching fire only midway, and in the final ‘Burlesque’ the energy isn’t always focused, while the recording balance is not as precise, with some important woodwind writing submerged.

The Glazunov is rather better, both in terms of the sound and in Benedetti’s more comfortable engagement with the music. Her rubato is affectionate and natural, with a cadenza of freedom and momentum, and her dynamic and tonal range are well matched to the late Romantic style, as well as illuminating Glazunov’s concise structure.

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Martin Cotton