Saturday, April 02, 2011

Nicola Benedetti at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh

We went to see Nicola Benedetti last night at the Usher Hall last night. There was a brief talk beforehand, in which she neatly dodged questions aimed at getting her to cite various other violinists as an influence on her. It was impressive that she is still taking lessons- notably two weeks in Vienna.
The orchestra rocked their way through Zemlinsky's Sinfonietta Op23, a piece of music that U absolutely loved. It had echoes of Kurt Weill without being quite so abrasive.
There was a noticeable increase in tension (or attention perhaps) as Benedetti joined tha orchestra, clad in a beautiful liquid silk dress in the palest of greys. She has a lovely aura, and she attacked her violin with relish, seizing the music for herself and almost dancing with pleasure at some points. Around her, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra treasured her playing. I was reminded of a child's hands cupped around a feather; the players were obviously aware of being in the presence of a great talent.
I am not used to going to orchestral concerts and found this an overwhelming experience for the senses: should I watch the conductor (fascinating), worry about whether Benedetti's hair was going to get stuck in her violin bow, listen to the orchestration (fabulous), enjoy the synasthetic experience of visualizing the sound without thinking about it, watch the music being made physically by the players...
What was best was the way Benedetti abandoned herself to the music, allowing the almost gypsyish passages to influence the dynamics of her style. I couldn't use the word rough, because that would imply that she did not have control over her playing, and the exquisite detail in places showed just what a shining instrumentalist she is. However, it's lovely to see a young classical musician with the confidence to explore the edges of playing style within a piece without losing track of the main route through it. Brilliant!
There was a rather dull Beethoven symphony afterwards, a comedown in a way although it did showcase the flautist and the bassoon player to great effect.

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