This is an excellent CD. There is always a danger in recording such well-loved and much-performed concerti as these - do we really need another version? - but this CD goes some way beyond 'just another' recording. I particularly like the Tchaikovsky. It is a thoroughly musical performance, absolutely assured technically but presenting the Concerto as a fine piece, not just something for virtuoso display with a gentle slow movement. Nicola Benedetti has a particularly winning way with passage work, which is not mere background musing or a way for getting from A to B but lyrical, thoughtfully phrased and beguiling in itself. Like Sarah Chang on an older, equally fine CD, she seems to hear and present the music afresh. The slow movement is lovely, truly lovely, and she lets go in the Finale with a fairly rapid tempo but, again, plenty of musicality in the phrasing. The end of the Concerto is most exciting. The whole thing is extremely well supported by conductor and orchestra and the recording is first-rate. It is easy to fall into the trap of routine efficiency in this work, but not one single bar in this performance gives that impression.
I could say much the same about the Bruch (and again praise the orchestra and conductor for being really part of the whole thing). The soloist is not afraid to play really quietly and there are some lovely hushed moments. The famous slow movement is rapt and mesmeric. Again, this is a performance that demands attention, notable for its freshness and commitment.
And it is very good to see this former winner of the BBC Young Musician Competition developing in this way. Many winners have had one CD to their name. Too many - not necessarily through a lack of musicality or accomplishment - have not been heard of again, except locally or by a limited public. This is Nicola's fourth CD (fifth, if you include the compilation CD 'Fantasie'), and it is yet more assured and more mature than any of the others, very good as they were, arguably on more difficult, because more familiar, ground. It can stand comparison with any other CDs of the Concerti currently available and is better than most. Very warmly recommended.