The Strad Issue: January 2012
Description: A fluent account of the Korngold Concerto in a filmic setting
Musicians: Nicola Benedetti, Alexander Sitkovesky (violin) Tom Dunn (viola) Leonard Elschenbroich (cello) Ksenija Sidorova (accordion) Greg Knowles (cimbalom) Alexei Grynyuk (piano) Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Kirill Karabits
Composer: Korngold, J. Williams, Gardel (arr. Lenehan), Shostakovich, Hess, Marianelli, Shore & Mahler

This is a CD that mutated. It began life as a recording of Korngold’s Violin Concerto, and turned into a selection of film music, still with the concerto as its centrepiece, as a work by one of the great Hollywood composers now surrounded by his colleagues. Nicola Benedetti, with her seductive, shining tone and easy melodic fluency, and of course her formidable virtuosity, is at home in all this music. The concerto is a fine blend of energy, firm structural control and sheer beauty, with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Kirill Karabits in close attendance.

Two other chunks of Korngold, taken from his opera Die tote Stadt, have nothing to do with the movies, but so what. There is another ‘serious’ piece here, Mahler’s Piano Quartet, which made an appearance in Shutter Island and in places really does sound like film music: gentle, rich in vibrato, with phrases lovingly caressed. Much of the music has a gentle melancholy to it, and a direct line to the tear ducts, which Benedetti handles with loving sensitivity, from Ladies in Lavender to Schindler’s List. The award for most-fun piece goes to Gardel’s intoxicating tango ‘Por una cabeza’ from Scent of a Woman. The recorded sound is warm and full.