Review: Nicola Benedetti & Armonico Consort - Vivaldi's Four Seasons @ SDH
Friday 13th February 2014
Vivaldi may be mainly recognised for his Four Seasons suite, but there is a rich bounty of his music, untapped to the modern ear. He shouldn't really be a one-hit wonder. His Four Seasons is how I got to know him - thanks to my mother, who played the CD relentlessly in my childhood. It remains a masterwork, but there is so much more to discover from "The Red Priest"...
Introducing the evening, conductor Christopher Monks almost made the audience feel that Benedetti was ill but could not make it (she had cancelled other recent concerts). This was partly the case, as she did not do the crowd-pleaser opener, Concerto in D "Grosso Mogul". Miles Golding took over this role, having only learnt the piece the day before the concert. Though not entirely interesting, it had certain pleasantries (the Concerto for Four Violins was omitted from the programme).
The Armonico choir were ready for the next work. Vivaldi's Beatus Vir is a strikingly beautiful work. The singers commit in cycles of song, using Latin to state such remarks as "The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance". This is proof that the composer has a great handle on voices, including a female solo of many trills and charm.
We did get to have Benedetti for the Four Seasons. Even with the flu, she played it for us. Lasting 45 minutes, this is a vivid and acute depiction of each time of year, with immense clarity and affirmation. The bitter chill of winter, the steam and joy of the hotter seasons. A piece that demands to be listened to and also respected (this is no trouble really). Playing in a slim still life tribute dress, Benedetti proves her chops with the best of playing seen from her generation. With gracious, unrelenting poise and stamina, she plays with a remarkable presence.
It meant a lot to this Cardiff audience (who gave a standing ovation) that she is a total trouper and carried on with show. For that, we thank her.
Article: Review: Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart - Violin Masterpieces @ SDH (Published: 04/03/2014)
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