Nicola Benedetti’s new album on Decca Classics, Wynton Marsalis Violin Concerto & Fiddle Dance Suite, features premiere recordings of two works written especially for her by jazz musician Wynton Marsalis: Violin Concerto in D and Fiddle Dance Suite for Solo Violin.
Set for worldwide release on July 12, Benedetti performs Violin Concerto in D with The Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Cristian Măcelaru. The concerto was co-commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), Ravinia, LA Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra Washington, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Netherlands Radio Philharmonic.
Marsalis’ four movement Violin Concerto in D draws on the sweep of Western violin music from the Baroque era to the 21st Century. It explores Benedetti’s and Marsalis’ common musical heritage in Celtic, Anglo and Afro-American folk music and dance. The work revels in the magic of virtuosity and takes inspiration from Nicola’s life as a travelling performer and educator. Each of the four movements reveals a different aspect of Nicola’s dream which becomes a reality through the long-form storytelling of the performance.
Wynton Marsalis outlines the four movements:
- “Rhapsody, is a complex dream that becomes a nightmare, progresses into peacefulness and dissolves into ancestral memory.
- Rondo Burlesque, is a syncopated, New Orleans jazz, calliope, circus clown, African gumbo, Mardi Gras party in odd meters.
- Blues, is the progression of flirtation, courtship, intimacy, sermonizing, final loss and abject loneliness that is out there to claim us all.
- Hootenanny, is a raucous, stomping and whimsical barnyard throw-down. She excites us with all types of virtuosic chicanery and gets us intoxicated with revelry and then…goes on down the Good King’s highway to other places yet to be seen or even foretold.”
Fiddle Dance Suite for solo violin is in five movements and Marsalis describes each one as follows:
- “Sidestep Reel: In the 19th and into the 20th century, repetitive, even metered reels and hornpipes were the centrepiece of many a dance. Easy and fun, their infectious, sing-songy melodies stayed in the mind and on the tongue. The melodies of this reel, however, are a homegrown concoction of commonality between traditional fiddle tunes, the Baroque, ragtime, bebop, the quartal melodies of modern jazz and the fancy variations on themes as popularized in the 19th century.
- As the Wind Goes: is the wistful late-night song of a lullaby, a campfire song, a ballad…a spiritual. It is sung as if on the wind, yearning to experience once again that which will only ever again live as memory.
- Jones’ Jig: The Irish jig, the African 6/8 bell pattern, the shuffle rhythm of jazz and the drum style of Elvin Jones all play around with the relationship of three in the time space of two. The juxtaposition, negotiation and reconciliation of these opposing rhythmic perspectives create interesting musical relationships all over the planet.
- Nicola’s Strathspey: in the traditional strathspey, improvised embellishments, syncopated dotted rhythms and the use of space between notes create expectation, momentum and surprise. These same elements and their effect on the listener are mirrored in the blues.
- Bye-Bye Breakdown: this is good ol’ Saturday-night-barn-dance, hoedown fiddling. It revels in the whining cry of open double stops, in all types of musical onomatopoeia from train sounds to animal calls to country whistling, and in the steady 2/4 rhythm that is as basic as walking. The harmonic framework of several popular fiddle and folk tunes provides a practical grid for Nicky to cut challenging melodic and rhythmic figures. A relentless stream of sixteenth notes with double stops is designed to tire fiddler and dancers.”
The tracks: Wynton Marsalis Violin Concerto in D / Fiddle Dance Suite for Solo Violin
Nicola Benedetti violin/ The Philadelphia Orchestra/ Cristian Măcelaru conductor