Grammy award-winning violinist Nicola Benedetti’s new Baroque album is today No. 1 in both the Official Classical Artist Chart and the Specialist Classical Chart following its releases on Decca Classics on Friday 16 July. Baroque is the fifth album from Nicola Benedetti to chart at number in the Specialist Classical Chart alongside Fantasie (2009); The Silver Violin (2012); Homecoming (2014) and Elgar (2020).

This is the first album Benedetti has released on a period set-up including gut strings, and she is joined by a leading group of freelance baroque musicians, forming the Benedetti Baroque Orchestra for the very first time. The album features a selection of concerti by Vivaldi plus Geminiani’s incredible arrangement of Corelli’s ‘La Folia’, one of the oldest western classical themes which has been arranged by many composers over time, particularly during this period. Geminiani was one of the greatest violinists of the era and taught by Corelli whilst growing up in Italy. Later when he moved to London, Geminiani reworked a number of Corelli’s compositions for local audiences including this arrangement of ‘La Folia.’

Nicola Benedetti said, ‘I am thrilled to hear that the album is No. 1 in both the Official Classical Artist Chart and the Specialist Classical Chart. This music is so deeply invigorating, energy-giving, freeing, grounding and moving. I am so excited to have released my first baroque album with this wonderful group of freelance musicians, and to have had the opportunity to perform it for people in the hauntingly beautiful setting of Battersea Arts Centre. I have long dreamt of presenting a project which brings together a recording, live performance and our education work, and with Baroque we have finally achieved this. As we hopefully emerge from this dark pandemic period, we want to bring hope and uplift and baroque music, especially Italian Baroque with all its song and dance, does this to the fullest. It expresses joyousness and drama in equal measure. It celebrates and embodies dance, community, and improvisation. It has rhythmic continuity and solidity, discernible harmonic sequences and patterns. This music must be stepped into like you are stepping into an opera. We musicians are all acting, all giving and taking demonstratively and with fervor. It’s full of stories we all relate to and was intended to be understood and enjoyed. Early eighteenth-century Venice’s public was not any old public, though. Everyone made music of some kind, be it at home, in the street, on or offstage. Amateur music-making was shared, and inspired sharing. Music was a part of people’s lives; written, played and sung for and by the people. But I’ve also long believed that Baroque music in general is an untapped secret for the world of collective and community music making and occupies an odd place in our formative years of learning instrumental music. We have so much more to learn from the energetic and revolutionary advancements in baroque interpretation. We can approach these works in ways that inspire fun and enjoyment, a greater sense of togetherness and community, a true abandonment of caution, and an embracing of scratches and scrapes. We can, through this music, connect more thoroughly to dance and rhythm, and contemporise its relevance.’

Benedetti Baroque Orchestra at Edinburgh International Festival

The Benedetti Baroque Orchestra also performs as part of Nicola Benedetti’s three concert residency at the Edinburgh International Festival. She charts the history of her instrument in her solo performance ‘The Story of the Violin’ (17 Aug) and is joined by the Benedetti Baroque Orchestra to perform the multifaceted musical creations of Vivaldi (14 Aug). In Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale she performs alongside a specially selected ensemble of musicians and actors to bring this unique mix of theatre and music to life (21 Aug). More information here.

Nicola Benedetti: Baroque

Worldwide release date: Friday 16 July

Geminiani: Concerto Grosso in D minor H.143 ‘La Folia’ (12’)

Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in D major RV211 (14’)

Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in Eb major RV257 (11’)

Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in B minor RV386 (12’)

Vivaldi: Andante from Concerto in B-Flat Major, RV 583 (4’)