Cheer up is needed after the summer, which was longed for after a virus-ridden winter and spring, dropped more or less in the water of bad weather. Nicola Benedetti's latest album, which is bursting with joie de vivre, is just the thing to soothe the soul. With Vivaldi, the violinist has chosen exactly the right composer for her latest project, and in the version by Geminiani presented here, "La Folia" introduces the Vivaldi fireworks ignited on the album in an ideal way.
For the first time Nicola Benedetti presents herself as a soloist in the historically informed setting of an orchestra bearing her name, spontaneously assembled from renowned musicians of the early music scene. Her instrument is a Stradivarius 'Gariel' from 1717, played with a baroque bow and equipped with gut strings, which she always makes sound stylishly, silkily and effortlessly without any heavy vibrato and with exquisite nuance. One would not believe that this is the first time the violinist has presented herself historically informed, so credibly she performs in this setting. "Her" baroque orchestra supports her congenially by playing on an equal footing with the soloist, which also benefits the album's liveliness.
As was the order of the day in the Baroque era, Geminiani borrowed his version of the melody underlying "La Folia" from his teacher Corelli, who adopted it from who knows where. According to some sources, the melody was originally written by Jean-Baptiste Lully, while others claim it was written earlier. What is known, however, is that this melody was used by more than 150 composers over the course of three centuries, and this Concerto Grosso from 1729 is still a very popular version. The orchestra and soloist on Baroque take the opportunity to let off steam unrestrained in their interpretation of "La Folia." The enormous momentum with which this Concerto Grosso is presented by all the musicians involved is immediately transmitted to the listener, whose mood, affected by the bad summer weather, immediately improves, to which the following three Vivaldi concertos contribute their share.
The interpretation of the Vivaldi concertos on Baroque shines with tonal and structural contrasts, beguiling violin playing by the soloist in the slow movements and virtuosically effervescent fast movements that reflect pure joie de vivre.
Thanks to the sound technology, the impact of the ensemble and the brilliance of the solo violin in "La Folia" reach the listener unrestrained via download. Above all, however, the recording crew succeeds in putting the balanced partnership between orchestra and soloist in perspective without elevating the soloist acoustically to an elevated pedestal.
This album is simply a stunner in terms of the outstanding performance of the musicians and the high recording quality. It's no wonder that the listener's mood, which is currently clouded by all kinds of occasions, is significantly improved by listening to Baroque.
Nicola Benedetti, violin
Benedetti Baroque Orchestra
Steven Devine, harpsichord
Kati Debretzeni, violin
Elizabeth Kenny, lute