Live Concert Review: Nicola Benedetti (violin) London Symphony Orchestra / Gianandrea Noseda | See again
“It all went into it,” says Nicola Benedetti of Mark Simpson’s Violin Concerto. In his own introduction to this studio concert, the composer speaks promisingly of a Lamentoso debut in B flat minor that makes Gianandrea Noseda’s unrestrained conductor of Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetic” Symphony a well-chosen foil. But back to the concerto, and what a piece: immediately striking brushed gong and bluesy trumpets punctuating a soaring solo cantilena, harmonically readable and loaded with passion.
In 35 minutes and five movements, in a cleverly drawn continuous ensemble, Simpson renews rather than rejects the tropes of the romantic concerto from Mendelssohn to Shostakovich. The tensions of solo writing sometimes find their release in some pretty obvious moments and the brass writing of the Korngold-to-Desplat cinematic playbook, and the alternating episodes of common recitative and furious dance in the second and fifth movements. withhold the resolution longer than it seems inevitable. .
However, they counterbalance the love song interrupted at the heart of the concerto, and Benedetti’s playing maintains the structure with fierce conviction. His exceptional Szymanowski violinist qualities – whimsy, French-accented tone, and swift negotiation of cross-string fireworks – are celebrated by Simpson’s writing, but I imagine other modern virtuosos will line up for to put their own stamp on a concerto that has all the ingredients of popular success and a place in the repertoire.