His manner was very much that of a chamber musician, sharing with rather than dominating his colleagues, and in Bach's Double Concerto he was well matched by the young violinist Katharine Gowers. While Kennedy offered his profile to the audience, so that he had rapport with the orchestra, Gowers played more to the front, as if liberated by her partner, though she would slip him a smile now and then as they exchanged phrases. Again, the first movement was brisk, even brusque, and rounded off with scarcely a hint of the conventional but unnecessary rallentando. The slow movement went at none too yielding a tempo - more Andante than Largo - though its eloquence could hardly be suppressed and, for once, it was played so cleanly and alertly, the lack of gush seemed a tonic.
There's no doubt that Kennedy is on very fine form. Still, sometimes the ear wants to be wooed. In the slow movement of the Beethoven Concerto, his ascetic purity began to seem uneventful, his very straight tone like a static object you want to wobble, just to know it's there. The orchestra must love him, because he turned his back to the audience when dialoguing with the wind instruments, and had a great time switching side to side between cellos and violins in the finale. He had played the popular Kreisler cadenza in the first movement - and brilliantly - but here elaborated some mildly weird concoction of his own, while the cellos and basses plucked an extended pedal point with the air of conspirators. After more than enough first-class playing for one night, I skipped the jokes at the end.
Adrian JackReuse content