Nicola Benedetti and Wynton Marsalis album receives praise (Photo credit: Jake Turney)
The release of the long-awaited Decca Classics album featuring our mighty trio of artists – violinist Nicola Benedetti, composer Wynton Marsalis and conductor Cristian Macelaru – has prompted many reviews and features in the past few weeks. Check them out below!
Inge Kjemtrup from Strings Magazine praised, “Coming to the concerto for the first time via the new recording, I was struck by how the first movement, Rhapsody, is almost a world onto itself.”
WQXR features a conversation with Benedetti, Marsalis and WQXR’s Elliott Forrest about the new album.
WFMT featured it as album of the week!
Ivan Hewett from The Telegraph writes, “Benedetti throws off the hugely taxing solo part with tenderness and brio, and the Philadelphia Orchestra under Romanian conductor Cristian Macelaru summons an orchestra palette interestingly flavoured with jazz and blues half-lights.”
Edward Seckerson from Gramophone Magazine, “There’s something about its [Violin Concerto in D] ‘evolution’ that flies in the face of notated music.”
In another Grammophone feature written by Charlotte Gardner, “The concerto (four movements drawing on Western classical music from the Baroque through to the 21st century, plus Marsalis and Benedetti’s combination of African American, Celtic, folk and dance musical roots) is a story of past and progress.”
Geoff Brown from The Times praises, “It’s Nicola Benedetti who luxuriates, lending every drop of her skill and artistry to a monster confection fondly written for her by Wynton Marsalis, the jazz trumpeter and composer who has moved so far beyond the eight-bar blues that he has written an oratorio lasting two and a half hours.”
Ken Walton’s 4-star review in The Scotsman said, “She embraces the jazziness with wild foot-taping abandon, and brings a redefined lyricism to the table that is ravishing.”
Richard Fairman from The Financial Times writes, “The concerto opens in a mood of wistful resignation and initially feels complex, almost dreamlike as it wanders through musical styles. The latter movements — a Blues and a Hootenanny, sent on its way by stamping feet — are more straightforward. This live performance by Nicola Benedetti and the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Cristian Mãcelaru, rises wholeheartedly to the occasion. Alongside, Benedetti performs Marsalis’s Fiddle Dance Suite, a lively showpiece with a reel, a strathspey (Benedetti is Scottish) and a barn dance — a fine workout for the violinist.”
Keith Bruce from the The Herald [Scotland] said, “Benedetti proves herself adept at any folk and blues idiom Marsalis throws her way, in what is a spectacularly virtuosic performance.”
Katherine Cooper of Presto Classical featured the album on her July Editor’s Choices, with “There’s a veritable smörgåsbord of styles and influences at play here – so much so that you may well feel as if you’ve listened to three concertos in one by the time you’re done – but I found it impossible not to be swept along by Marsalis’s free-ranging imagination and Benedetti’s versatility. The gospel-inflected third movement and the uproarious Hootenanny finale are irresistible.”
Jason Victor Serinus from Sterophile writes, “I expect every lover of jazz and classical music will want to check out Decca’s new recording of jazz great Wynton Marsalis’ thoroughly engaging Violin Concerto and Fiddle Dance Suite. Both were written for the superb Nicola Benedetti, who joins with Cristian Macelaru and The Philadelphia Orchestra to give us a definitive interpretation, guided by Marsalis. As for Benedetti, she’s a wonder.”
Stephanie Elkins from Wisconsin Public Radio says, “The result is the “Violin Concerto in D,” which manages to reflect both Benedetti’s Celtic heritage and Marsalis’ African-American ancestry. Benedetti is spectacular in both pieces, displaying technical command, gorgeous tone and lots of subtlety in the constantly shifting soundscapes that Marsalis has provided for her. It’s compelling, interesting music, and don’t be surprised to find your feet tapping and your body moving here and there.”
David Mellor from the Daily Mail shares, “The concerto was commissioned by Nicola Benedetti, who, with great virtuosity and commitment, plays this very difficult stuff with the Philadelphia Orchestra in front of an enthusiastic Philadelphia audience. It is a kaleidoscope of Americana, from a rather beautiful opening spiritual-like tune, through various marching bands reminiscent of Charles Ives, to a spirited (as against spiritual) hoe-down ending. Once again, Benedetti is to be congratulated for her adventurous spirit and sterling musicianship. Well worth sampling.”
The Violin Channel featured the album on their site.
You can download the album here.