This has the look of a career-making recording from Scots violinist Nicola Benedetti, putting her up against difficult repertory that diverges from the crowd-pleasing fare that formed the basis of her career up to this album. It would have been hard to predict just how well she pulls off her task here; few could have heard the profound interpreter of Russian music in the Italia and Silver Violin collections from earlier in the 2010s. The Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 99, is an emotionally thorny work in five movements anchored by a tense passacaglia in the middle. The composer withheld it from publication during the period of renewed Stalinist repression in the late 1940s. It was premiered in 1955 by David Oistrakh, and in endurance and elevated tone even if not quite in lyrical grandeur, Benedetti brings that master to mind. Sample the Stravinskian "Burlesque" finale for a sense of how Benedetti gets outside herself here. The Glazunov Violin Concerto, Op. 82, is a more stable work, rooted in pre-WWI conservatory traditions, and Benedetti's reading is nothing short of letter-perfect.
This is the best – the noblest, the grandest, the most tragic – Ballade in G minor ever recorded. This is the best – the most virtuostic, the most colorful, the most imaginative – set of Book I Preludes ever recorded. This is the best – the most Romantic, the most heartfelt, the funniest – Carnaval ever recorded. This is the best – the most elegant, the most witty, the most athletic – recording of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 ever recorded.
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli's classic recordings of the Ravel G major and Rachmaninov G minor concertos have never been out of the catalog since they first appeared more than 40 years ago. Surface and style are one in this music, and the Italian pianist remains unsurpassed for his icy precision and micro-detailing. He brings pinpointed elan to Rachmaninov's sizzling cross-rhythms in the Fourth Concerto's Allegro Vivace movement, as well as laser-like concentration to the tartly lush Largo. Few have matched Michelangeli's nuance and color in the Ravel concerto, and his seamless dispatch of Ravel's "singing sword" effect in the opening movement belies the notion that you can't bend notes on a piano.
"Scotland's sweetheart" and onetime BBC Young Musician of the Year Nicola Benedetti follows up her 2011 release Italia with this collection of music from the silver screen and beyond. Centered around Erich Korngold's lush Violin Concerto, the album features film music both old and new, such as John Williams' Schindler's List, Howard Shore's Eastern Promises, and Dario Marianelli's Jane Eyre. It also includes other classical works by Korngold, Mahler, and Shostakovich.
With the death of Fabrizio De André from cancer on January 11, 1999, Italy lost one of its most modern singer/songwriters. Inspired by the songwriting of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, De Andre's songs encompassed Genoese folk songs, French protest/social commentary, beatnik "stream of consciousness" poetry, and the soundtracks of Italian film Westerns. In Italy and in the rest of world he is considered a poet because of the quality of his lyrics.