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Vivaldi Album, The (Limited Edition With Bonus DVD)
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There is room for both this approach with modern instruments and the more common fashion for 'original' instruments in a smaller group. What matters in the end is the enjoyment communicated, and this performance, with its fillers, brings plenty of pleasure. It has been excellently recorded by EMI in a spacious acoustic. Definitely one to consider.
This recording just flows very naturally from beginning to end, full of musicality, bursting with life expressed in great art.
The technique seems so effortless and impeccable, it shows off the wonderful music so well without any strain or seeming artifice like a blackbird singing its heart out on an early summer evening.
Buy it and have a lot of pure joy.
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There's a difference in this perfomance and others on the passion level. It beats most mediocre chamber orchestras in the world with a distinctive character of vigor, delicacy, passion and its highly personalized taste. It's breathing Nigel Kennedy in and out, a child prodigy turned boy/ man/musician.
Love Nigel Kennedy ' s music making visually and his quirky clothing style on the DVD too. Real musicians don't wear suits to the recording studio.
Where before he had the English Chamber Orchestra to accompany him, Kennedy this time had members of the Berlin Philharmonic behind him, and apparently starting with this Four Seasons from 2004 they intended to record as much Vivaldi as the public could stand. However, I guess it was such a daunting enterprise, the public soon found itself exhausted with Vivaldi overload, and to my knowledge Kennedy and the Berlin players produced only one other Vivaldi album, called Vivaldi II.
In any case, Kennedy is a magnificent violinist with a bravura talent, which, unfortunately, sometimes gets in the way of the music. Listeners to these Four Seasons interpretations will find them either delightfully fanciful and innovative or annoyingly self-conscious. I'm afraid I'm in the latter group. Kennedy invests each movement with so many subjective trills and frills and stops and changes of tempo that one feels the head spinning. .
I rather expect Kennedy approaches his music here in the same way he approaches his status as a classical superstar, with the idea that image is everything. He appears to glory in his own reflection of the common, if nonconformist, man, complete with the once-curious haircut, facial stubble, working-class clothing, and London East-End dialect; and it is this brazen, nonconformist attitude that he brings to The Four Seasons. The thing is, the music, so quaint and expressive in its own right, doesn't need further doctoring up. Well, maybe it did wonders for Kennedy's disc sales, I don't know.
More impressive to my mind are the fillers, Vivaldi's Concertos for Two Violins in A minor and in D. Perhaps because people know them less well, whatever Kennedy does with them is less noticeable. They are quite vivacious in his hands, splendidly alive, although again somewhat quirky in matters of tempo and tone.
EMI's sound does not strike me as among their best, either, it being a bit on the bright, hard, almost edgy side, with little compensating bass response to balance out the affair. There is not much depth to the sonic image, and, indeed, it's hard to tell exactly how many Berlin Philharmonic players are attending the soloist. The result is not so much realistic or natural as it is theatrical.
John J. Puccio
What I like about this CD is his double concerto interpretation. The A Minor is extremely testosterone-driven. I have heard many recordings where the sound and performance fall flaccid from either bad recording or bad players. Here, the tempo is fast enough to keep you interested, but not so fast as to make you think you're hearing noise instead of music. His last movement (regularly taking 4:00+ to play...his time: under 2.5) had the feel of a live performance.
The other double concerto is a rather obscure one by Vivaldi. It is a mediocre piece with drastic, operatic scoring that really doesn't fit Kennedy's playing.
I went to buy vivaldi II right way.
I can listen to it all day!
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