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Violinist Nicola Benedetti has just recorded Shostakovich’s mind-blowing First Violin Concerto (the album is available to buy now on Decca). We asked her to talk us through a work that she says is “totally overwhelming the first time you encounter it”
The concerto opens with an unsettling Nocturne
In this opening movement, Nicola says, “every time you feel you’re reaching some kind of conclusion you’re taken away from it, it’s very unsettling.”
And here’s a clip from the first movement Nocturne
Next, Shostakovich turns to something altogether more wild
The concerto’s second movement is a dizzying Scherzo:
Here’s Nicola playing part of this hair-raising movement:
At the heart of the piece is a movement of depth and darkness
This third movement, in the form of a passacaglia, is the heart of the piece and contains what Nicola thinks is “the most shocking moment of the entire concerto”.
And here’s part of that fiendish cadenza she mentions:
Finally, we get Shostakovich’s dark-as-it-comes comedy
The final movement of the concerto is a Burlesque – a genre in the arts which is part satire, part caricature.
Here’s a clip from the recording session of this amazing movement:
Picture of Dmitri Shostakovich: Getty