Also, Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 4; Silver: Creepin' In. Nigel Kennedy, violin; Polish Chamber Orchestra. EMI 0946 3 95373 2.
Following on the heels of DG's fine release of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with violinist Vadim Repin, Riccardo Muti, and the Vienna Philharmonic came this EMI issue with Nigel Kennedy playing the violin and leading the Polish Chamber Orchestra. Both discs are recommendable in their own way.
Whereas the Repin performance is rather big-boned and old-fashioned, the Kennedy interpretation is somewhat leaner and marginally more dynamic. I can't say which reading I enjoyed more. Kennedy is the more extreme, as we might expect from this often flamboyant source. He takes the first movement very quickly, infusing it with a good deal of energy and enthusiasm. I recall that he recorded the Beethoven once before, in the early Nineties, and it had a rather slack first movement. No such thing here. However, as a complete contrast, he takes the second movement Larghetto more slowly than I can ever remember it done. His manner is not exactly languid, though, and many listeners will find it lovely. Be that as it may, it's hard to find any reservations about the final movement, which is as joyous and bouncy as any you'll hear.
As companion pieces, Kennedy chose Mozart's Fourth Violin Concerto, which he does up in fine form, the booklet notes telling us that Kennedy performs the cadenzas in "jazz and other non-classical styles...which nevertheless keep the composer's own material very much in mind." They do no harm. Then, in an eccentric twist that probably only Kennedy could get away with, he ends the program with a brief jazz piece, "Creepin' In," for violin and double bass by Horace Silver.
Because Kennedy conducts a relatively small ensemble, it helps to improve transparency, yet at the same time EMI's sonics maintain a warm, ambient glow around the music. It is traditionally good EMI sound, pleasantly atmospheric, without the bloom interfering too much with inner detailing.
Incidentally, I don't usually trust albums where the performer's name on the cover shows up larger than the composer's, and in this instance Kennedy has his name in capital letters and practically in lights. I'll make an exception.
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer
Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.
Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer
For over 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me--point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.
For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, as of right now it comprises an Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio High Current preamplifier, AVA FET Valve 550hc or Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst
I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.
It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.
When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.
So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio
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