No instrument is perhaps more identified with the lush, Romantic sound of Golden Age Hollywood than the violin. Acknowledging cinema’s links to the instrument – and forgetting the musical snobs – Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti releases “The Silver Violin,” a collection of pieces from films of the 1930s to the present.
The 25-year-old Benedetti has been active on the scene in the UK for close to a decade, and is now setting her sights more deliberately on America. In September she performed the Ryder Cup golf tournament closing ceremony in Illinois, an event watched by millions. Further US dates are scheduled including an appearance in The Greene Space at WQXR on Feb. 22. "The Silver Violin" comes just in time for movie awards season.
Korngold's Violin Concerto is the album’s centerpiece, a piece that shares tunes with his film score to “The Prince and the Pauper.” Benedetti applies a lush tone but also a welcome degree of rhythmic firmness and forward momentum, essential in a work that can degenerate into a sentimental wallow in the wrong hands.
The rest of the album balances works written expressly for film with concert works that were later adapted by Hollywood. Thus there’s John Williams’s theme from “Schindler's List" (originally an Itzhak Perlman vehicle), a Dario Marianelli cue from “Jayne Eyre” and Howard Shore’s Concertino from "Eastern Promises." These are juxtaposed with Mahler’s Quartet for Piano and Strings in A minor (featured in “Shutter Island”), Gardel’s Tango (“Scent of a Woman”) and several Shostakovich selections. It doesn’t hurt that Benedetti looks like a Hollywood starlet too.