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5.0 out of 5 stars THE EXCITEMENT CONTINUES: AWESOME PERFORMANCES!!, 8 Dec 2013
This review is from: Nicola Benedetti: Mendelssohn, MacMillan, Mozart (Audio CD)
Five HUGE Stars. Nicola Benedetti, the brilliant fiery Scottish violin prodigy, continues her ascent up the classical music hierachy with stunning and beautiful performances of Mozart, Mendelssohn, and James MacMillan on her second CD. The 'Piece De Resistance' is the tenacious 27 minute 'Tour De Force' performance of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 that has many moments of pure euphoric musical delight rippling from her bow, especially the Allegro non troppo movement, as she superbly negotiates the tricky currents. Her soliloquy during the Allegro molto appassionato is spellbinding. Not announced on the cover are two wonderful performances of Schubert: a deeply reverential Ave Maria D839 (violin and harp), notable for the declarative multi-string second pass thru, and the elegant Serenade ("Standchen" No 4 from Schwanengesand D957) with orchestra. The Academy of St Martin in the Fields orchestra with James MacMillan at the baton is absolutely stupendous. The Mozart pieces are delivered with great empathy and panache with Nicola, I'm told, doing double duty as performer and conductor. Quite a feat.

When composers begin writing music specifically for an artist, you know the artist has arrived. As in her debut CD, there is music composed especially for her herein. This time countryman James MacMillan has composed two movements entitled "From 'Ayrshire' " for his fellow Scot to tantalize us with in a world premier: the Largo is florid beauty with Nicky spinning out yearning 5 note and 6 note motifs; and the second movement, which is instructed to be played "like a very fast reel", is bombastic wonder with Nicola's sizzling violin work producing multi-string incandescent notes. One day she'll have to give us a full CD of these specially composed works, to include the complete expansion of the "Fragment for the Virgin" from her debut CD.

This CD is totally enjoyable and at times even overpowering. Ms Benedetti seems to have the natural capability of producing emotional, powerful performances, far beyond her teenage years, that directly impact the listener's emotions. Her debut CD with Daniel Harding and the London Symphony Orchestra was a shot across the bow of the classical world, announcing her arrival as a member of the leading edge of the 'next wave' of young virtuosi, in the wake of the marvelous Hilary Hahn and company. And the excitement continues with this CD. I can't say enough about Nicky's musicianship. My Highest Recommendation. Five BLAZING Stars.

(*Trivia: Nicola plays a 1751 Petrus Guarnerius of Venice violin.)
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