Nicola Benedetti performed with Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra at the Edinburgh International Festival on August 10, 2017 (Photo credit: Simon Fowler)
Nicola Benedetti received high praise for her appearance last week on August 10th at the Edinburgh International Festival. A favorite at Scotland’s premier festival, Benedetti performed the Brahms Violin Concerto in her first collaboration with Maestro Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra at Usher Hall.
In a review of the concert, David Smythe of Bachtrack wrote: “Benedetti’s performance of Brahms’ challenging Violin Concerto in D major was a true partnership with the orchestra. Standing level with Fischer’s podium rather than in front, her playing and mature interpretation never overwhelmed the piece, rather intertwining and melding. Eye contact between conductor and soloist and even the leader ensured precision ensemble rubato moments, Benedetti’s wonderful Stradivarius sound blending into the orchestral mellowness. From a long beginning, drama built to a passion, Fischer swinging both arms and Benedetti generating excitement attacking the dotted entries with double stopping and fierce arpeggios before lyrically soaring to the heights, a thrilling cadenza ending the first movement. With horns cut to two players at softer points Fischer ensured balance, the rich string quality supporting some meltingly beautiful solos from the woodwind. Finally, the Hungarian ‘gypsy’ music with its teasing rhythms and games brought the piece to a thrilling conclusion executed with style. With soloist and orchestra living the music so vividly, this was a truly legendary pairing. A thoughtful bluesy encore was slight but captivating with its left hand pizzicatos.”
David Kettle of The Scotsman gave a 5-star review: “She gave a deeply considered, thoughtful account, each note weighed carefully for meaning, but never sounding forced or calculated. There was an etched clarity to her playing, and, while she may have taken her time in the first movement, she attacked the finale with ferocious intensity and appropriate gypsy abandon, bidding farewell with the briefest of encores, which she described as ‘just a little blues’.”
Keith Bruce of The Herald Scotland also gave a 5-star review: “Currently at the top of her musical form, Benedetti nailed the Brahms concerto in the way she did Shostakovich at the Proms a few weeks ago. Fischer took … a more expansive account of the work, with the violinist dispatching the virtuosic leaps in the fingering in flamboyant style, and the cadenzas with raw power and panache. The closing chords of the piece were immaculate, and the icing on the cake Benedetti’s encore of country blues on the fiddle.”
S.E. Webster of The Reviews Hub exclaimed: “The Usher Hall is packed to the rafters, the audience waiting with bated breath and poised for Benedetti’s entrance. As soon as she walks on stage she has a captivating stage presence and receives resounding applause before she has even played a single note. Naturally, it’s completely justified and no review can summarise the sheer musical talent of Benedetti that has been evident ever since she won BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2004. Fully absorbed in the music, Benedetti avoids the pitfalls of many prima donnas by not overshadowing the orchestra; instead the lead violin and the orchestra are partners in this performance of one of Brahms’ most successful compositions for solo violin. Indeed, Benedetti’s solo section seems to have the audience and the orchestra spellbound. In spite of the evident challenge presented by the music, such as the incredible musical range that soars into the highest notes, and playing multiple notes on multiple strings, Benedetti plays Brahms effortlessly yet with true feeling and an intimate understanding and appreciation of the music. The Stradivarius sings with a pure, clear voice and it’s a delight to hear such a famous instrument played by someone so musically accomplished. The Brahms is a particularly enjoyable installment, with a beautiful solo from the oboe and the Hungarian, gypsy-like final movement is full of spirit and energy and executed with panache and precision by the orchestra.”