I've been looking at Cadogan Hall's website, and I see that Nicola Benedetti is appearing with the English Chamber Orchestra on Wednesday 29th November 2006. The programme will include Bruch's Violin Concerto No.1 and Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony.
English Chamber Orchestra with Nicola Benedetti, violin
Nicola Benedetti violin English Chamber Orchestra Raymond Leppard conductor
Programme: Schumann: Konzertstück for 4 horns Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1 Schubert: Overture in C, In the Italian Style Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 in A, Italian
BBC Young Music of the Year Nicola Benedetti plays one of the best-loved and most recorded concertos in the violin repertoire, filled with exuberant melody and colourful orchestration, richly displaying the virtuoso role of the violin solo.
“Benedetti’s playing is beautifully precise, her keen intonation has that glass-shattering perfection, and she has a deliciously unaffected charm that simply allows the music to kindle its own irresistible momentum.” The Sunday Times
I see there are very few seats left, so book now to avoid disappointment.
I started this as one 'everyday' post and rushed it off during a busy day yesterday (Thursday). Finding this morning (Friday) that it is still in an editable condition for me to modify, I am breaking it into two. This first part being the 'general ramble', the second part being about Nicola.
I came to this thread to deliver the report Roger introduced a post earlier (on this thread) with that superb photograph of him with Nicola. I had thought he would achieve this when he told me at the start of the interval that he would be unlikely to see the second part, as he had really only come for Nicola and that he would also take the chance to chat with Steve Abbott, hence all the glorious information he has been generally offloading before this post, under various threads.
When he said to me, 'I'm happy to leave this evening's review to you as there is so much house-keeping to do', I replied that in view of my present circumstances it would probably be another cloth, weaving wefts of ideas across several warps of thread. In fact, time did not allow the diverse development I then had in mind and in any case, Roger seems to have woven a cloth of his own with so much information across so many sectors. But I digress, of course!
My concern on this thread is that in re-reading it I find I earlier indicated I was intending to be at Cadogan on this date anyway. I think I got confused in my posts with the earlier Hayley performance. Could I possibly have obtained a ticket that never got here or I forgot and lost it?! I hope its the former (confused in my posts) or I have to accept I am occasionally doolally more than I care to admit and I no longer have the excuse of 'being under the influence' (of medication!) affecting me!
As I perceived things yesterday, it was one of those responses by fate that if you look out for someone else, someone (Fate, Chance, call it whom you will) will look out for you. I desperately wanted to see Nicola Benedetti but my friend was going to be over from the States and I wasn't certain of dates, so I didn't book. Had I done so when I thought I might I would have been told it was a sell out, so would not have bothered further.
As it happened, my friend, while doing well, found jet-lag catching up with him so felt he would retire to his hotel after a light meal early yesterday evening. Unexpectedly therefore, I was in London, twenty minutes from Cadogan Hall with an hour or so to the performance, so I took the off-chance for the odd ticket.
I met Steve the moment I entered the box office area. He told me 'total sell out very soon after the announcement', he was looking for a ticket for a special person (no, NOT Hayley!) and let me in on the procedure for grabbing returns. I got one, as did several other people who started queuing behind me.
Then I met Roger, to his intense astonishment: 'You promised me you weren't going to be here!" I had PM'd him the day before, asking him to say to Nicola and Steve, that I was very sorry at missing such a golden opportunity to meet with her but I had put a friend's interest before mine. Fate had repaid me by providing me with a CC9 return one row in front of Roger and three or four seats more centrally. That was when Roger managed to gain some information from Steve, but obviously, pre-show, Steve did not have much time and it will have been at the end of the interval that Roger gained his more extensive background information, which he has already shared.
This is the second half of the Nicola Benedetti evening report.
It was an odd night. The temperature outside was peculiar which doubtless helped to play havoc with the internal control system. It was hot to the point that I stripped down as far as Cadogan etiquette would allow. One person did not return to her seat in my row after the interval because it was too hot for her.
When Roger anounced he might not go back for the second half I was already thinking the same as he, but I had left all my gear at my seat, including my camera but Roger has compensated for that lack of foresight on my part by having that superb photograph that Steve Abbott took for him.
In the mean time, as I was at the front of the queue to ask her to sign (she signed her page in the programme--I'll try and get a scan up soon) I had to make do with a 'hi, superb performance, may I have your autograph, please?' and move on. She kindly acknowledged my compliment and signed elaborately across the page. Perhaps she'll cope, or perhaps Steve needs to kindly advise her that a less elaborate one might be easier on her hand as her fame spreads! She'll probably continue simply being herself!
It is only a 20 minute interval and when you are in the best stall seats you lose half of that getting out of the stalls and back into them! As it was, the interval over-ran by at least ten minutes, probably for her signing queue and she had had barely ten minutes to make the expected pleasantries to the orchestra before being rushed out of the Stage door by Steve, along the street (where we have so often chatted with Hayley in the past) and back in to the foyer, where her CDs seemed to be selling well.
So, to the performance proper. The programme started with Schumann's 'Konzertstück for four horns and orchestra', Opus 86. It is unknown to me but proved light entertainment producing superb musicianship from the four horn players whose harmonic compatability was first-class.
Then, Nicola Benedetti. It is the first time I have seen her live and from row CC close enough to really appreciate the girl. She is a very beautiful, well proportioned young woman. 'Statuesque' would be a good word for her, especially in her oyster-tinted, satin ball gown that hid her feet. but was close-fitting enough to intimate the beauty of her form.
The photo of Roger with her shows the colour of her dress more strongly than the stage lights. These made her gown look more'old' ivory with a hint of gold--hence my description of 'oyster-coloured'.
Personalitywise, as I gathered in just that fleeting moment with her at the head of the signing queue, she has as lovely a temperament as our Hayley. A very nice young woman to know.
According to Steve Abbott this was only the second time she had played the Bruch Violin Concerto No 1 in G minor, Opus 26. A very difficult concerto because it is so well known as a result of being in the top ten for so long of Classicfm's annual 100 best loved pieces of music. Even nonclassical people must by now be familiar with that passage, partially introduced very early on but which is first developed towards the end of the first movement.
That haunting theme must surely be in the home key. It brings to my mind that line in Twelfth Night 'That strain again, it had a dying fall.' It is a musical phrase that catches at the heart strings and makes the eyes prick from the simplicity of the tune. To have it played by a young woman, be able to watch her every gesture in her own harmony with the composer's originality added a poignancy unique to the occasion.
Watching Nicola was an interesting contrast to watching Fiona Pears or Chris Garrick. One sensed a greater discipline in Nicola's physical movements, yet a discipline that enabled a greater fluidity of movement. There was superb grace in every aspect of her bowing. To watch the fingers on the strings in the clarity of their individualism, especially through the long and fast runs through the notes was exquisite.
Nicola's hair is fair and long and somehow stayed in its groomed position throughout. It called to my mind that lovely poem by T S Eliot, La Figlia Che Piange In there is a lovely line, 'Weave, weave, the sunlight in your hair..'
So it seemed with her. Her body, tightly disciplined, yet it was through that 'rigid' discipline that fluidity of movement flowed in her mastery of her instrument, her hair likewise tightly disciplined by its grooming yet emphasising the relaxed freeness of the spirit that drove her response to the music she played. . Nicola seemed to restrict herself to perhaps six square feet of platform. She stood, her legs somewhat apart, her dress outlining her figure in principle but not in detail, moving one or two steps occasionally to one or the other side, but essentially, like a tree, steadfast from the waist down.
From the waist up, it seemed extraordinary that she could bend so far in each direction without breaking. Here was a mind controlling a body to make her violin sing the composer's soul. Superb physical discipline that enabled extraordinary fluidity, except her neck and chin.
Interestingly, when she was not playing, her neck seemed rigid, her chin, with some force, not so much responding to the beat as actually seeming to drive it. Where she was looking in those moments when she was not playing I cannot tell, although she may have been watching the conductor's face or hands. It seemed as if she was gazing into the cello and double-base sections, playing their instruments for them in her mind.
It is a regular stance of violinists to pose prior to immediate playing after quiet passages, holding the violin solely by the clench of jaw against the shoulder. When that violin is a Petros Guarnerius of Venice, made in 1751 and worth three-quarters of a million dollars... and is held in that nonchalant manner--I wouldn't dare touch it, let alone pick it up!--you know you are in the presence of superb artistry. That a violin of that age could sustain modern use is a magnificent statement of the violin-maker's art. In the hands of a beautiful woman whose soul seemed in empathy with the composer's, I could have heard her play the concerto again, as soon as she had finished. She was, of course, as were teh rest of the orchestra, COMPLETLEY UNMIKED!
This was an evening of absolute purity of sound.
The audience not only applauded her warmly but accompanied their applause with quite a few 'hurrah's dispersed around the auditorium.
This was indeed a superb evening. It would have been just as superb if we had only heard Nicola Benedetti. But perhaps better, if we could only have heard her twice!
The second half of the concert started with the slow movement of the Haydn String Quartert in tribute to 'Manny' Hurwitz, a former leader of the English Chamber Orchestra who died recently. Then Schubert's 'Overture in the Italian style' and Mendelssohn's 4th symphony (The Italian). This is a delightfully gay and tuneful symphony which went some way to compensating for the star of the evening appearing in only the first half.
When signing, I noticed she is left-handed. During the second half I wondered if there might be a highesr statistical chance of finding left-handed people playing string instruments, especially amongst virtuosi!
To see Nicola Benedetti perform was sublime. It was as good an experience as having Hayley on stage! I felt, similarly elated.
Her eyes were the blue of cornflowers that dance amongst ripening wheat, Her hair the colour of golden sands bleached by summer's heat.
Hurrah (the Queen prefers that to 'hooray', by the way!) Richard
Thank you. All works superbly well. At least it did in preview!
Nicola Benedetti's signature in my programme. Click the pic for the larger version which, if it doesn't appear larger then right click that to get the little lozenge for resizing. Thanks to Richard's advice it does work and the programme text is readable if you are interested. Peter S.
You've forgotten to mention that the image can be enlarged by clicking on it. As I've explained in a PM to you, you may need to disable the automatic resizing function to see the full-size image. Alternatively try putting the cursor on the second image, and if an icon with four arrows appears in the bottom right hand corner, click on that for the full-size picture.