This might just be Nicola Benedetti’s best recording yet. Two very different 20th-century violin concertos show her at her most generously expressive and succinct, her most agile and commanding. Shostakovich wrote his seething First Concerto in the late 1940s but kept it mainly suppressed until after Stalin’s death in the 1950s; Benedetti unfurls the painful opening melody with a wan, broken, beautiful sound, then, when it comes to the Passacaglia, she really soars. And what makes it so worth hearing her interpretation of the Glazunov – an altogether lighter, sweeter business – is that she retains some of that urgency and makes a convincing case for the dark corners as well as the big-hearted tunes. Another big plus is the playing of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Kirill Karabits, a sound that broods and simmers in the Shostakovich and adds lustrous depth to the Glazunov.
Shostakovich/Glazunov: Violin Concertos CD review – agile, commanding Benedetti
Nicola Benedetti/Bournemouth SO/Karabits
Kate Molleson is a Glasgow-based music critic. She studied performance in Montreal and musicology in London, where she specialised in 1930s experimental radio