Entertainment & Arts

Nicola Benedetti 'can't play' new concerto

Nicola Benedetti
Image caption Nicola Benedetti has become one of the most recognisable faces in classical music since winning BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2004

Violinist Nicola Benedetti says she feared she wouldn't be able to play a new concerto, set to premiere in London this Friday, during early rehearsals.

She said Wynton Marsalis' Violin Concerto in D presented multiple challenges in the final movement, which was inspired by a Scottish reel.

"I can't play it yet, to be quite honest," she told BBC Radio 3's In Tune programme in an interview conducted in August.

"It's very difficult."

Marsalis wrote the concerto - his first - specifically for Benedetti.

The world premiere takes place at the Barbican on Friday night, where the Scottish violinist will be supported by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Her fears over the performance have been soothed by a period of intense rehearsals following the Radio 3 interview, which was broadcast on Wednesday night.

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Media caption'Our music is joined at the roots'

"My feeling now is that it will be a piece that violinists will love," she said, saying it exemplified "the range of colour and the melodic expressive potential of the violin".

"There's no shortage of chances for me to really, really sing through the deepest tones and the highest ones."

Benedetti, who won BBC Young Musician of the Year at the age 16 in 2004, first met Marsalis 10 years ago at New York's Lincoln Centre.

He is a New Orleans-born trumpeter, composer and teacher, who has become one of the most influential voices in jazz since his oratorio Blood on the Fields won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1997.

The duo have worked closely on the violin concerto, which draws inspiration from jazz, blues and Scottish folk music, and the painstaking process of its creation will be revealed in a BBC Four documentary next year.

Asked about the difficulties of combining the three disparate musical traditions, Marsalis simply replied: "They're not different at all".

"The root of all Afro-American music is Anglo-Celtic music. In the slavery time, the slaves played reels and Irish jigs and Scottish music. Our music is joined at the roots - so it's no strain at all to find commonality."

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Image caption Wynton Marsalis has won nine Grammy awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Music

The 53-year-old added that he would not be suffering from nerves ahead of the concerto's world premiere.

"I don't have any professional stress. No type of review bothers me. That happens after a time," he said.

Benedetti said she was still "learning" to be relaxed about criticisms of her work.

"Reviews can upset me sometimes," she admitted, "but your senses become dulled the more variety of criticism and accolades you get. You start to see that the pattern is they can all be quite random. "

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