Saturday evening I was at the very fine Saffron Hall (fine views and comfy seats!) to see Nicola Benedetti perform Vivaldi's Four Seasons.
I've seen Ms Benedetti perform chamber music twice and was looking forward to see her with a larger ensemble. Obviously I was not alone in looking forward to this as the concert sold out and an extra date was added, this sold out too!
It didn't help that the orchestra's coach broke down in the car park but admirably the concert went ahead more or less on time.
The programme was a baroque one with music from 1711-1732.
Concerto No 12 in D Minor afte Corelli's Op 5 No 12 Follia H143
Concerto for String and continuo in G minor RV 157
Concerto for four violins in B minor Op 3 No 10 RV 580
Concerto in D major RV 208 Grosso Mogul
Four Seasons (comprised of 4 Concerto's RV 269, RV 315, RV293, RV297)
Ms Benedetti was joined by the early music ensemble La Cetra which with there conductor Andrea Marcon are a 14 piece band.
The first two pieces were less Ms Benedetti but no less enjoyable. When she did join the band it was not as the superstar soloist but for an ensemble piece.
Vivaldi is an interesting character. A superstar in his time who went out of fashion for 200 years! Hard to believe given how much the Four Seasons is heard today on CD or on the radio. Interestingly he has a reputation as been really samey but I have to say that didn't come across in this performance. Curiously some of the violins solo's sounded as good as any of the solo Bach I have heard. However I suspect that her style is not that of the purist baroque player it sounded perhaps a little less sharp or less dry? Not really sure how to explain it.
Most of us no doubt had bought our tickets to see the Four Seasons and very good it was but so was the whole programme. It was perhaps less flashy than some versions I've heard on disk but played up the subtlety of the piece. There was a nice interplay in one piece with the lead Viola.
The audience loved it and there was a standing ovation. A couple of encores followed. Classical superstar she may be but the encores were ensemble pieces which was nice to see and she really seemed to appreciate the support the band gave. A really good evening.
My next trip to Saffron Hall is to see the Czech Philharmonic and another fine Violinist Chloe Hanslip. Can't wait for it.