British violinist Nicola Benedetti presents her first ever disc of Baroque repertoire, taking inspiration from her Italian roots to record a vibrant selection of both familiar and more unusual works by Vivaldi, Tartini and Veracini. Benedetti appears on the Decca label for the first time, switching over to Universal Music’s British sister label after having recorded previously for Deutsche Grammophon.
The album focuses primarily on the Italian Baroque violin master Vivaldi but, rather than including just the composer’s prolific Four Seasons, explores wider repertoire with his equally compelling Concerti in D major RV 208 and A Minor RV 358 as well as the first recorded instrumental version of the beautiful ‘Nulla in mundo’, immortalised by the film ‘Shine’. Tartini and Veracini, almost exact contemporaries, complement Vivaldi with the original version of Tartini’s ‘Devil’s Trill’ sonata and his Concerto in A minor, while Veracini’s Largo from the Sonata in A major completes the album.
Throughout her recording career Benedetti has been noted for mixing programmes; her debut recording of the Szymanowski Concerto was paired with Massenet’s Meditation From Thaïs, the accompanying work to the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto was James MacMillan’s World Premiere From Ayrshire and Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending sat happily alongside another World Premiere composed for Benedetti, Sir John Taverner’s Lalishri.
‘Italia’ also presented Benedetti with the opportunity to explore Baroque performance practice. After some inspirational lessons with leading Baroque violinist, Rachel Podger, Benedetti experimented with her instrument and technique to produce the sound she wanted. For this recording she uses her 1714 ‘Earl Spencer’ Stradivarius and a Baroque bow lent to her by her mentor, Podger.
Benedetti says of her Baroque approach, “This is one of the areas of performance that I think can be approached with a sense of true freedom. There has been so much diversity in interpretation that I would love to believe we have arrived at a point where a variety of approaches are not only accepted, but appreciated for their differences.”