Thursday 27 May 2021

Just play, and play, and play: Nicola Benedetti releases her first period performance album with Baroque on Decca

Violinist Nicola Benedetti, having explored Baroque repertoire in a number of ways, is releasing a Baroque album in July on Decca. This will be her first album in period-setup with gut strings and she will be supported by the Benedetti Baroque Orchestra which includes such period performances luminaries as violinists Kati Debretzeni and Matthew Truscott, lutenist Elizabeth Kenny and harpsichordist Steven Devine, performing concertos by Vivaldi plus a concerto grosso by Geminiani.

Not every violinist finds the world of period-performance invigorating, but violinist Alina Ibragimova moves between the two worlds whilst cellist Jan Vogler, when I interviewed him in 2016, talked about the refreshing challenge of playing with gut strings. Benedetti has been nothing if not adventurous in her repertoire and she gave us a taste of what we might expect with her striking Vivaldi concerto performances with Arcangelo and Jonathan Cohen at the 2020 BBC Proms. 

And she explains her introduction to performing in this world, 'The sound world of early eighteenth-century Italy first came into full three-dimensional focus for me when I met Italian conductor, harpsichordist and founder of the Venice Baroque Orchestra, Andrea Marcon. Having listened obsessively to his recordings, I was both honoured and humbled by the opportunity. “Just bring your violin and see what happens”. You can imagine how ill-equipped and ill-prepared I was feeling. I took comfort in assuming it would be more talk than playing, but that’s certainly not what Andrea had in mind. To him, the music of Vivaldi is talking. It’s the best kind of conversation you can conjure up and provides the fastest way to get to know someone. Just play, and play, and play.'

As well as releasing the disc, Benedetti and her Benedetti Baroque Orchestra are giving a series of live performances at Battersea Arts Centre between 18 and 21 July 2021. And for the first time her Benedetti Foundation will present Baroque Virtual Sessions for three weeks in July. Following the enormous success of previous Virtual Sessions which have taken place during the pandemic, the Benedetti Foundation will work with musicians of all ages and stages on Geminiani's La Folia which features on the Baroque album.

Further information about the Baroque album from Decca and from Benedetti's website.

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