I love music.

I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

The Four Seasons

#alttext# (Nigel) Kennedy's career, it might be argued, was really launched mainstream with the release of this version of Vivaldi's Four Seasons around 1990. I had been into baroque music for about 2 solid years, when after purchasing Monica Huggett's rendition with Raglan Baroque, I purchased this one at the used CD store. I had borrowed it previously from the library and was... shocked. This guy was playing in ways unfathomable to me. He was a truly authentic performer, in the sense that he was inventive and did his own thing. He obviously would, look at the hair! I became almost obsessed with the album. All of my friends in school listened to it (and not many of them were into baroque or classical music). Imagine that... we'd blast Kennedy's rendition of Summer, third movement, like heavy metal, but instead, it was the angry torment of a storm. He beats the orchestra to the end, for goodness sake! He had bravura, for sure. I even took the VHS video, another amazing interpretation, to heart, carrying the box to the barber shop. "I want my hair to look like this!" "Really?" "Yes." This will go down in history as one of the worst decisions I could have made at that point. The barber wasn't terribly talented, and his "version" of the Nigel haircut was lacking, in so many ways. I wore a hat for over a week to conceal the bad "do." We all learn. After all, I was still in high school. This recording was amazing at the time it was released, and today, it sounds less exotic. But I think it was a key recording, for it heralded a new aesthetic of playing. It showed other violinists it was okay to have your own voice, and your style. It was okay to be personally authentic. I don't think the Il Giardino Armonico version on Teldec with Enrico Onofri could have come when it did, without this trailblazer. Go a few years later, and compare it to the last recording by Fabio Biondi on Virgin. Even more exotic. But someone had to pave the way. In repeated listenings the English Chamber Orchestra isn't as tight and as focused as might want... they respond to Kennedy's style just fine, but they're not the in their most familiar skin. Kennedy's later recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons with members of the Berlin Philharmonic is also a good rendition, but with reduced forces, and more virtuosic players, the sound is far more closer to a period performance than this original. It also finds moments to be extreme, but for Kennedy's solos especially, I prefer this one. If not for the memories, for the interpretations themselves. This recording isn't often played in my collection, but does carry a lot of history with me. Heck, I even named my cat at the time, you guessed it, Nigel. The recording has had an influence on me, and likewise, a great influence on Vivaldi interpretation. There were the recordings before this one, and then those afterward.

Dresden Sonatas

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