The Strad Issue: October 2016
Description: Sweetness rather than bite in two major 20th-century violin concertos
Musicians: Nicola Benedetti (violin) Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Kirill Karabits
Composer: Glazunov, Shostakovich
Catalogue number: DECCA 478 8758
Benedetti gives a clear and technically poised account of both of these works, and there is some real tonal beauty in the slow movements. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra players are clearly enjoying themselves, with an assured and considered approach to both concertos, and with some suitably dark hues in the tragic first movement of the Shostakovich. Decca’s recording sounds quite heavily ‘produced’ but is none the worse for it.
For me, however, this is where the matter ends. I do not feel that Benedetti fully exploits the biting irony of the Shostakovich or the self-indulgent darkness of the Glazunov. There is little of the intensity in the Shostakovich that was brought by two of its most famous exponents, Oistrakh and Kogan. This makes the Shostakovich cadenza sound watery, with a diffuse, almost flautando quality to the sound in places, which is too languid for my taste.
That said, this very lyrical approach makes the first movement of the Shostakovich an unexpectedly elegant interpretation, although the Glazunov’s first movement sounds a little too sweet and sugar-coated. Nevertheless, there is some beautiful sound on this disc but the extent to which it is appropriate in this context is ultimately for listeners to decide for themselves.