Mendelssohn, MacMillan, Mozart (Deutsche Grammophon)
Any time a story about the rise of attractive classical musicians appears, Benedetti’s name shows up somewhere in it. But with her second major-label CD, filled with a mature lyricism beyond most players her age (19), it’s hard to argue that she’s coasting on her looks.
Benedetti also has a questing streak when it comes to repertoire. Her debut disc rested on Szymanowski’s rarely performed First Violin Concerto, and her new album includes Scottish holy minimalist James MacMillan’s From Ayrshire. (Ayrshire is Benedetti’s hometown.) The seven-minute curtain raiser shows off Benedetti’s gracious lyricism as she slides around and through the slippery glissandos MacMillan tossed in. An overly abrupt ending stops the piece dead in its tracks, but that’s not Benedetti’s fault.
She gives a streamlined account of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto that makes the most of her focused tone. Backing her up is the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields of chamber-orchestra proportions, which also keeps the interpretation from becoming bloated.
Anyone who still thinks it’s all about her looks should check out the four brief, unhurried works filling out the recording by Mozart and Schubert: Without falling into sentimentality, her flowing legato can be traced to the finest opera and lieder singers. MacMillan also leads the Academy, and proves an ideal collaborator as he follows Benedetti.—Marc Geelhoed