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Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

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Album Review

When you see someone called Z-Star among the guest artists, it's a fair bet that you're not getting a conventional recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons violin concertos. And sure enough, bad-boy violinist Nigel Kennedy and his Orchestra of Life use the score as a starting point for various kinds of embroidery. There are beats, long solo interjections, abrupt tempo shifts, electronics, rock guitars, samples of various kinds of outdoor sounds, some of them quite loud, and so on. How you'll feel about this may well depend on your stance toward The Nige in the first place, but give this a chance either way: several things make it work better than you might guess. One is fidelity to Vivaldi's spirit, if not to his notes: Kennedy reproduces (in English) the sonnets, perhaps by Vivaldi himself, that accompanied the original score, and his sound effects generally correspond to the scenes in the poetry. Second, Kennedy has perhaps never played better than he does here, slashing through his various heavy accompaniments with brilliance and speed. And finally, there's an X factor here that's due to a certain break-on-through-to-the-other-side quality. The performance is not just loud and brash but focused and intense as well. In all, you may be left with the impression that if Liszt had known Vivaldi's music and had had access to modern popular forms and technologies, he might have come up with something like this. Even if not, it's a wild, wild ride.

Customer Reviews

Excellent

My mum used to play this to me when I was younger and said I was mesmerised by it. I've had my own child now and he's exactly the same! Beautiful music very therapeutic :)

Iconic

The traditionalists were very sniffy when this was first issued.
I don't care. It has a wildness and passion played by an extraordinary virtuoso and I love the otherness of this rendering.

Lovely music ruined

Some of this performance is lovely, and it is lovely music. But in places it has been murdered. Spring is fine, but much of Summer feels beyond the artist's range, Autumn is just weird, and Winter - which usually sends a thrill down my spine - left me scratching my head. A real disappointment.

Biography

Born: 28 December 1956 in Brighton, England

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

As one of the most successful classical performers of his time, violinist Nigel Kennedy's genre-defying music helped him achieve a level of fame typically reserved for pop stars. A native of Brighton, England, he studied music at the Yehudi Menuhin School and at Juilliard; his debut recording, Elgar Violin Concerto, appeared in 1984, shortly followed by Nigel Kennedy Plays Jazz. In the years to follow, Kennedy collaborated not only with the more traditional likes of Riccardo Muti and the Philharmonia...
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Vivaldi: The Four Seasons, Nigel Kennedy
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