Music and radio on television

In a peak week for great Elgarians, Nigel Kennedy had first go on the South Bank Show (Sun, ITV). That he played Jimi Hendrix fantasies rather than Elgar this time was all to the good. By presenting himself with a creative dimension that classical virtuosi usually hide, he was able to show explicitly how he gets under the skin of the musicians he empathises with.

Old images of Kennedy took a knock as he sat there eloquently talking about Bach and Bartok. He has the teacher's gift of showing what he feels as he discusses the detail. Melvyn Bragg sat there bemused. That left Kennedy free to say what he wanted, and meant that, for once, he could explain what his obsession with Hendrix is really about.

Maybe it started with wishing he was a rock star but it has moved on. He does something different from trying to re-create the heavy-guitar ambience in an inappropriate medium. Really these are Kennedy's own pieces. They use the original musical line just as the springboard for idiomatic, personal and often beautiful elaborations.

This stance seemed all of a piece with the urges that made him give up conventional performances five years ago. Bragg didn't test what he now has to say about "not playing dead composers". Yet Kennedy has just gone through a unique period of exploring his own ideas. The programme missed its chance to go into the nature of improvising and musicians' increasing awareness of its role. Instead, it boxed him back into the tradition he came from. Maybe nobody knew how to ask.

Elgar's Third Symphony rightly dominated Radio 3. Everybody knows how well the symphony lived up to expectations. So did the build-up and context by the organisation that, after all, commissioned it in the first place. Listening to the premiere on radio inevitably produced a more reflective response. Disconcertingly, I found myself reacting to Anthony Payne's completion the way that Elgar's publisher Jaeger did to the first version of the Enigma Variations - wonderful, and it ends too soon. All Elgar's long symphonic works tie their threads together in an expansive epilogue. Payne has come up with a final twist which itself creates a greater need for resolution than the elliptical concluding cross-references. Imagine, after it, a reflective opening-up as in the Cello Concerto. Has he, yet, dared all?

The symphony is sure to become the most-played English work of the late 20th century - and it has to count as that because Payne's involvement is so vital. It is a defining moment in contemporary creativity. It also echoes what Kennedy's stance implies, that a whole tradition has gently wound to a close and the most vigorous new activity is either focused on earlier times, or adding footnotes. Otherwise the creative muse has simply moved to other kinds of music. What will happen to Payne's musical spirit when it has fully absorbed the experience of identifying with Elgar? How easily can he go back to what he was doing before?

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine