Notes and Editorial Reviews
Kennedy has shrewdly augmented the regular concerto coupling of Bruch and Mendelssohn with the rare Schubert work, and the result is a generous issue which on every front can be warmly recommended for exceptionally strong and positive performances, vividly recorded.
The Rondo in A, D438, dating from 1816, the year of his Concertstuck in D for violin and orchestra, was originally written for solo violin accompanied by string quartet. Performed as here with string orchestra, it in effect becomes another Concertstuck, following a regular Schubertian form, a substantial Andante introduction leading to an Allegro, lasting here in all some 16 minutes. The 19-year-old was simply enjoying himself with a flow of ideas that may
not be very memorable but which in the hands of performers like this are sweetly entertaining, an attractive bonus.
When it comes to the two main works, Kennedy readily holds his own against all comers. His view of the Mendelssohn has a positive, masculine quality established at the very start. He may at first seem a little fierce, lacking some of the poetry of Mutter (DG)—or Chung (Decca) on her coupling with the Tchaikovsky—but fantasy goes with firm control, and the transition into the second subject on a descending arpeggio (marked tranquillo) is radiantly beautiful, the more affecting by contrast with the power of what has gone before.
Where in Kennedy's account of the Tchaikovsky Concerto (also EMI), the warmth of his expressiveness brought questionable moments of waywardness, in the Mendelssohn he is unerring helped by Jeffrey Tate's consistently refreshing and sympathetic support. Though it is the English Chamber Orchestra accompanying, there is no diminution of scale whatever. With full and well-balanced sound, the piece even seems bigger, more symphonic than usual. In the slow movement Kennedy completely avoids sentimentality in his simple, songful view, and with Tate a devoted Mendelssohnian, the finale sparkles winningly with no feeling of rush. The coda is always a big test in this work, and Kennedy and Tate's reading is among the most powerful and exciting I can remember on record, thrust home superbly.
The Bruch brings another warm and positive performance, consistently sympathetic, with the orchestra once more adding to the power. Kennedy is more than a match for the rival versions I have listed, again bringing a masculine strength which goes with a richly expressive yet totally unsentimental view of Bruch's exuberant lyricism as in the central slow movement. Plainly nowadays Kennedy enjoys himself in the studio more than ever.... For this favourite coupling, along with its bonus, Kennedy's EMI issue is a winner.
-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [1/1989]
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Violin in E minor, Op. 64 by Felix Mendelssohn
Nigel Kennedy (Violin)
English Chamber Orchestra
Written: 1844; Germany
Length: 29 Minutes 01 Secs.
Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op.26: I. Vorspiel (Allegro moderato) -
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 in G minor Op. 26: II. Adagio
Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op.26: III. Finale (Allegro energico)
Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op.64: I. Allegro molto appassionato -
Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op.64: II. Andante
Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op.64: III. Allegretto non troppo - Allegro molto vivace
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