Nicola Benedetti's Journey Through the Italian Baroque

Saturday, February 11, 2012

After recordings of Romantic blockbusters and modern works, violinist Nicola Benedetti shifts gears for her latest album, a collection of Baroque concertos and chamber pieces by Vivaldi, Tartini and Veracini.

The 24-year-old Scottish violinist, whose parents were born in Italy, would seem to have Italian music in her genes. Still, treading into the world of Baroque music these days comes with its own set of considerations. Fiddlers are expected to be conversant with “authentic” style, articulation and vibrato. Benedetti consulted with Rachel Podger, an English violinist who specializes in Baroque music and even borrowed her bow for the occasion. The violin, though, is Benedetti's usual instrument, a 1714 Stradivarius on which she played in the WQXR café last year.

The album leads off with Vivaldi’s “Il Grosso Mogul” Violin Concerto, a theatrical work with some barnstorming outer-movement cadenzas and a dreamy, exotically pitch-bent slow movement that may contain an allusion to Indian music (experts have posited that the title of this work refers to the contemporary rule of India or his territory).

Also from Vivaldi are two transcriptions of vocal arias -- “Vedro con mio diletto” (I will see with pleasure), and “Nulla in mundo pax sincera” (In this world there is no honest peace) – plus a short but thoroughly enjoyable Concerto in A minor; and “Summer” from the Four Seasons cycle. Rounding out the collection is a Largo by Francesco Veracini and Tartini’s “Devil’s Trill” Sonata – an intimate work with a fiery center whose title refers to the composer’s account of hearing it played by the devil in a dream.

Complementing Benedetti’s stylish playing is the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, which plays sensitively under the direction of Christian Curnyn.

Nicola Benedetti
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Christian Curnyn, director & harpsichord
Available at

Below: Watch her perform Vivaldi in this video that Decca put together:


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Comments [4]

liz listens with her 4 kids

We have thoroughly enjoyed this week's album of the week, especially its very "authentic" sounding atmosphere - I feel as if I'm sitting in an intimate chamber music room.

Feb. 17 2012 08:05 PM
Rubo from Brooklyn

I wonder whether someone at WQXR would be so kind as to tell me what is the reason the “Italia” CD has been chosen as the Album Of The Week.
There can be no doubt that there is not a single rule which could be applicable to everyone in questions of taste, no matter how hard one tries but, I particularly do not find Ms. Nicola Benedetti’s violin playing as good as to have been especially selected to be broadcast for as long as a whole week.
Not wanting to be rash and rush to criticize her manner of playing, I did listen to her recordings of Sonate Accademiche: IV. Largo (Veracini); The Four Seasons: L’Estate, and Concerto for Violin in A Minor (Vivaldi); and —today— "The Devil's Trill" Sonata (Tartini: on this work in particular, I consider Leonid Kogan’s recording —to name just the one that comes to mind— far superior in all senses to Ms. Benedetti’s.)
She seems to be one of those who believe the instrument to be played on must be a so called “original” (as if not all instruments were originals one way or other) or “authentic” (as if not all instruments were authentic one way or other); moreover, his playing is that of one who believes one should stick to the “UR” manner of playing the violin, one who makes glissandi, ritenuttos, slurs, and ornamentations that may well have not even been on the UR-Text.
So, I beg you, could you tell me the reason this particular performer recordings were chosen?
Thank you so much.

Feb. 16 2012 03:16 PM
Pedro. from Sao Paulo Brazil

Bravo Nicola!

Feb. 16 2012 12:47 PM
Sidney Goldman from Baldwin, New York 11510

Classic FM magazine, which I had subscribed for more than 10 years introduced me to our violin soloist.

And this Decca promotional release, thanks to WQXR, inspired me to send you this comment.

Feb. 13 2012 10:05 AM

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The Albums of the Week are compelling new recordings that we spotlight every week. These include creative repertoire choices, engaging musical personalities and artistic statements that stand out from the pack. You can hear the Albums of the Week throughout the day and evening on WQXR.