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Elgar: Violin Concerto; Vaughan Williams / Kennedy, Rattle


Release Date: 01/20/1998 
Label:  Emi Classics Special Import Catalog #: 56413   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Sir Edward ElgarRalph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  Nigel Kennedy
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Kennedy penetrates to the very essence of the soul enshrined within the Elgr concerto. A remarkable achievement.

I have for long been sceptical about the Kennedy phenomenon. I enjoyed his original, Gramophone Award-winning recording of the Elgar Concerto (EMI, 12/84— nla), but did not feel impelled to buy it. I acquired his Sibelius Concerto as an adjunct to Simon Rattle's performance of the Fifth Symphony (EMI, 9/88). Kennedy's Bruch, Mendelssohn and Brahms concertos (reissued on EMI, 1/89 and 4/91) arrived as charity shop LP throwouts. Their positive merits could not overcome an aversion to the soloist, based on his increasingly strident personal image.

Today, I heard a broadcast of his new recording
Read more of the Elgar Concerto on my car radio. I was astounded: I pulled over and listened through to the end, hearing the work, with which I thought I had been thoroughly familiar for 35 years, as if for the first time. Having read Andrew Achenbach's review and Adam Sweeting's interview with Kennedy (both 1/97), I was prepared for a radical alternative to the received wisdom of Menuhin and Elgar (EMI, 2/93). That has certainly been achieved. My touchstone has generally been Albert Sammons's glorious 1929 performance, with its controversial, no-nonsense accompaniment conducted by Sir Henry Wood (Pearl). It seems to me that there are some elements of Sammons's approach in Kennedy's new version, not least the daring speed variations in the finale. But there is far more, in what is probably the most individual, committed and viable performance of the concerto to be recorded for many years. AA rightly remarks that Kennedy "penetrates to the very essence" of the soul enshrined within the concerto. In so doing the violinist has also laid bare the complex inner feelings of the composer, which underlie much of his music, and indeed acted as a catalyst for the creative process. It is a remarkable achievement. The hype, marketing and promotion 6 Gramophone February 1998 for this new disc should be ignored: instead it should be welcomed as a timely re-creation of a twentieth-century masterpiece.

I am not sure how I shall react to a 17-minute Lark ascending. I am comforted by Otto Klemperer's comment to an orchestral player who challenged the sedate tempo for the scherzo of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony: "You will get used to it". I hope that Kennedy will now record the Berg Concerto. At times his Elgar sounds remarkably forwardlooking, anticipating Berg's personal combination of Angst and lyricism, overlaid by the serialism of the Second Viennese School.

-- Mervyn Miller, Gramophone [2/1998]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Violin in B minor, Op. 61 by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Nigel Kennedy (Violin)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1909-1910; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1997 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England 
Length: 53 Minutes 40 Secs. 
2.
The lark ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  Nigel Kennedy (Violin)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914/1920; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1997 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England 
Length: 17 Minutes 37 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Violin Concerto in B minor Op. 61: I. Allegro
Violin Concerto in B minor Op. 61: II. Andante
Violin Concerto in B minor Op. 61: III. Allegro molto - Cadenza (accompagnata: Lento) - Allegro molto (Tempo I)
The Lark Ascending: Romance for violin and orchestra

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