Live Review: Nicola Benedetti | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Live Review: Nicola Benedetti

In a break from the contemporary music scene, Music Critic Lucy Painter heads to Birmingham's Town Hall to review violinist Nicola Benedetti's solo performance

On Tuesday 6 March, Birmingham Town Hall’s Artist-in-residence, and world-famous violinist, Nicola Benedetti, performed an intimate concert. This was a fantastic opportunity to see an incredible artist, in the centre of Birmingham, for under £10 – something I am so fortunate to have taken advantage of.

For most people, a classical concert on a weeknight would not be first choice for exploring the vibrant music scene in Birmingham, however, Benedetti is an artist who could make any piece engaging to any audience member. In this solo performance, her programme varied from standard Bach to a new work by American jazz musician Wynton Marsalis. 

Benedetti is an artist who could make any piece engaging to any audience member

Opening with the Bach ‘Partita No.3 in E Major’, Benedetti seized the audience’s attention from the very first note. This is a piece that is well-known amongst musicians, but is also recognisable for those new to classical music. It served as a perfect first piece, with all of the nuances of the various movements ringing out with precise clarity.

Following this was Belgian composer Ysaÿe’s ‘Sonata No.5 in G Major’, which I recommend everyone listens to. It is a stunning work which describes early dawn to daylight, with a second movement focused on storytelling. With her musical acrobatics, Benedetti was able to captivate the audience in both the sensitive and more rustic moments. 

With her musical acrobatics, Benedetti was able to captivate the audience in both the sensitive and more rustic moments

After the interval, Benedetti returned to the space to play a new work by trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis. A refreshing break from the rest of programme, this piece is a blend of traditional Scottish folk and bluegrass and blues American styles. The result is two movements which moved away from typical jigs and reels, pushing the abilities of the instrument and demonstrating Benedetti’s virtuosic skills. 

Closing the programme was a return to Bach with the ‘Partita No.2 in D Minor’, another well-known piece in the standard violin repertoire, and a monumental end to a varied programme. Attending any concert in the Town Hall promises to be great given the impressive setting and acoustics. Benedetti’s performance in-the-round added a level of intimacy which the audience does not usually get the chance to experience. It was surprising and pleasing how much she was able to fill the space as a solo performer, while still retaining the intensity of performing in such close proximity to the audience. 

The work done by artists such as Benedetti is vital in keeping young people interested in classical music

As a student, I cannot encourage classical concerts in Birmingham enough. The work done by artists such as Benedetti is vital in keeping young people interested in classical music. There are also some great offers available to students from organisations across the city, which are well worth taking advantage of. I thoroughly recommend Benedetti to those familiar with and new to classical music. This concert from the world-class musician was one of the best opportunities I have had while at university and I look forward to the next time she performs in the city.

English and Modern Languages student at the University of Birmingham. Arts and cultures advocate. All views presented are my own. (@painterrlucy)



Published

16th March 2018 at 9:00 am



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