Having now proved herself as a serious violinist with the obligatory recordings of the typical repertoire (Bruch/Tchaikovsky etc), it is fantastic to see Nicola now able to express her vision for music through her recordings. This disk strikes exactly the right balance between being widely accessible but not abandoning the concept of a 'proper' classical album.
For classical music purists, the Korngold violin concerto is the centrepiece of the disk. This is a fabulous interpretation and has a suitably showbiz-y feel to allow it to blend seamlessly with the other works. (I'm not exactly in a position to critique her technical proficiency in this piece - if there were flaws, I couldn't hear them anyway...!)
The other works on the disk are the more accessible ones. With 15 tracks, each one is shorter than the pieces often found in the classical repertoire and hence the music is broken into 'bite-size chunks' (perhaps less suited to the classical music purists but good for those who are intimidated by longer works). The stand-out tracks for me are Gardel's Por Una Cabeza (in which Ksenija Sidorova (accordian) is a fantastic addition to the tried and tested combination of Benedetti, Elschenbroich, Stikovestsky and Grynyuk), Shostakovich's Romance from the Gadfly and Korngold's Marietta's Lied (which she recently performed at the Proms).
Although it pains me to make any criticisms, I feel I have to make a few comments in the interests of a balanced review! The Hess and Marianelli pieces seem perhaps a little out of their depth and are somewhat lost in between the works of Shostakovich/Mahler/Korngold. Shore's Concertino from Eastern Promises (another little-known composer) however holds its own remarkably well (I especially like the second part!).
Overall this is another stunning collection and Benedetti's passion for bringing 'proper' clasical music to a wider audience can be felt in every piece. The energy and vitality of her playing is something that sets Nicola's recordings apart from other classical albums and the pieces on this disk show this off perfectly (in a similar way to her 'Fantasie' album). This is a fabulous collection of solo/orchestral and chamber works, all brought together with a unique showbiz sparkle!