Nicola Benedetti - Szymanowski/Chausson/Saint-Saens

A young Nicola Benedetti proves her worth with her fired-up programme of romantic music, accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Composer: Szymanowski
Repertoire: Violin Concerto No.1, et al
Artists: Nicola Benedetti (violin); London Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Harding
Rating: 5/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: DG 987 0577

As if winning BBC Young Musician of the Year wasn’t an achievement in itself, Nicola Benedetti made an impressive statement with the work she chose to play on that occasion. Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No.1 is a shimmering, sumptuous, fantastically beautiful creation which, for some unaccountable reason, very few of her senior colleagues choose to spend any of their time on. Here she benignly puts them to shame with an already remarkable interpretation which (you realise with something close to awe) will only get even better in the years to come. You can hear in every bar that she totally believes in the music; she has all the soaring rhapsodic firepower that’s required, especially when responding to the composer’s severe demands at stratospheric altitude, and Daniel Harding and a palpably fired-up LSO contribute a top-flight accompaniment. Benedetti’s superbly played choice of fill-up items include evergreens such as Saint-Saëns’s Havanaise – lifted far beyond routine by her zingy way with its Spanish habañera rhythm – and Chausson’s lovely Poème. And John Tavener’s brief Fragment for the Virgin is memorable both in itself, and for the intensity and conviction that Benedetti brings to it.