Music review: Nicola Benedetti & Academy of Ancient Music, Queen’s Hall

Nicola Benedetti. Picture: John Devlin
Nicola Benedetti. Picture: John Devlin
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Is it possible to get too much Vivaldi? I doubt Saturday’s capacity audience minded either way. Any chance to hear Nicola Benedetti is excuse enough. That her programme with the Academy of Ancient Music (AAM) under Richard Egarr consisted of three Vivaldi works (four if you include the encore) alongside three by Telemann was academic.

Nicola Benedetti & Academy of Ancient Music, Queen’s Hall (****)

More interesting, perhaps, was Benedetti following the AAM lead by playing on gut strings with Baroque bow. It signalled a sense of genuine team work. I’ve often admired her natural ability as a chamber musician, aside from her solo virtuoso persona, and this series of beautifully integrated performances, where virtuosity simply emerged like impromptu outbursts of self-expression, bore that infectious glow of team spirit.

The Vivaldi concertos – including the A major harpsichord one with Egarr as director/soloist – were typically inoffensive, bright and breezy, with a monstrously entertaining cadenza in the D major RV208.

More musically outré were those quirky inventions of Telemann – the impression of Frogs in the A major concerto and the brazenly extreme discordant adventures in the Rameau-esque “Alster” Overture and Suite.

The phalanx of four natural horns in the latter were typically temperamental. Benedetti, as ever, was a sure bet.