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The Lebrecht Weekly


Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]

Kennedy's hit and miss

By Norman Lebrecht / March 5, 2008

When Nigel Kennedy recorded the Beethoven violin concerto 15 years ago, he was under the spell of the Viennese fiddler Fritz Kreisler and the magic baton of the German conductor Klaus Tennstedt. Both influences have waned and Kennedy has now taped the work again with the Polish Chamber Orchestra and no conductor. Whatís more, he has adapted Kreislerís solo cadenzas to suit his own cocky style.

The performance, out next month on EMI, is slower than before, a reflection of the artistís maturity and his deepening classical commitment. Apart from certain phrases in the opening movement that would have benefited from a conductorís sharpness, this is a fresh, thoughtful reconsideration of a repertoire cornerstone.

What follows, though, requires a health warning. As a filler, Kennedy plays Mozartís fourth violin concerto with cadenzas of his own that involve double-bass, electric violin and jazz rhythms, an interpolation that sits so awkwardly in the classical frame you can almost hear the scene-shifters coming on to get us back to base. ĎIt belongs in todayís time,í Kennedy insists, and you can see what he had in mind. You just wonder why no-one at Handsí End told him it wonít work. The effect is not so much offensive as misplaced. The only positive I can draw from it is that Kennedy is still prepared to rush in where other violinists hide like mice behind the classical skirting.

To be notified of the next Lebrecht article, please email mikevincent at scena dot org

Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]



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