Nigel Kennedy mines Vivaldi in hunt for another superhit

When a spiky-haired young musician called Nigel Kennedy recorded Vivaldi's Four Seasons in 1989 he created a musical sensation.

It topped the classical charts for a year, made No 3 in the pop top 10 and, with sales of more than two million, was honoured in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest-selling classical album. The television version won the Golden Rose of Montreux and Kennedy was named the Variety Club's personality of the year, a rare distinction for a classical musician.

But if such a résumé was a reminder that you had always meant to buy a copy, it is too late. The disc has been withdrawn. Fourteen years after Kennedy made Vivaldi as popular as chart toppers of the time, such as the Happy Mondays and Sinead O'Connor, he has returned to the composer with whom he won international fame.

On 27 October, the 46-year-old violinist will release a new version of the Four Seasons. It has been recorded not with his earlier collaborators, the English Chamber Orchestra, though he describes them still as a "fantastic national asset", but with members of the Berlin Philharmonic.

And, perhaps more significantly, he will release at least three if not more albums of Vivaldi concertos in the next few years. He has combed through 500 scores, found 150 he regards as good and perhaps 60 that are great. After performing them with the Berlin Philharmonic, he wanted to record them.

"This whole album is like the beginnings of an exploration of Vivaldi," he said. "To start a project like that recording a couple of concertos and also the Four Seasons on the first album makes more sense than to start with six or seven totally unknown concertos." For Kennedy, the appeal is not just of examining a body of music in detail but of reaching a deeper working partnership with the Berlin Philharmonic. "To stay with the same composer means our understanding can only get greater and greater, not just of the composer but of each other."

The venture was launched this week in Germany in typical Kennedy style, with a packed concert in the home of the Berlin Philharmonic where he played for more than two and a half hours, with an encore involving a football kickabout and a classical rendering of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze".

A tour to Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Taiwan follows and he arrives in the UK next year.

But the project is not without risks. Barry McCann, the managing director of EMI Classics who was marketing director at the time of the first Four Seasons, said: "It's extremely unlikely it will do as well as the first. I don't think you can have lightning strike twice."

Officially, Mr McCann expects it will go gold - selling 100,000. But that may be on the conservative side. And when the disc was presented to EMI Classics' pop colleagues, they called it a "no-brainer". So now it will be down to the fans.

The original album divided critics, because Kennedy, then 33, incorporated his own unscored embellishments, which upset some purists.

Mr McGann said the thing that shocked everyone about the first recording was the speed. "Now what's happened is instead of Nigel leading the pack, they all play together. It is fast but it is so relaxed. It's got a maturity."

The Vivaldi series is likely to keep Kennedy busy for years but on the distant horizon is an even bigger project - about Bach.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform