First Night: Kennedy puts his stamp on Brahms
Nigel Kennedy Royal Albert Hall London
Wednesday 09 June 1999
And yet when the time came for his fiery first entry he turned on us with a vengeance, stamping wildly and forcing his tone almost to the point of ugliness. Then came the magic, that wonderful first theme, which floated past us as if in a dream.
But the contrasts with the first movement's more assertive passages were too violent, too overtly theatrical. Three-quarters of the way through the movement the violinist goes his own way for an unaccompanied cadenza. Again, Kennedy thrashed mercilessly until that theme came back and the devil in him turned into an angel.
The first movement was tailed by a grateful round of applause, then he turned his back on us again for the lovely oboe solo that opens the second movement. This time Kennedy actually started to play to the orchestra, turning to us only after the first few bars. He kept the musical line bright, narrowing his tone to a silver beam, then applying the pressure as and when Brahms asked him to. The movement's closing pages were pure poetry.
But it was the finale that really took off. If there's a gypsy in Kennedy's soul, this was his moment. Daniele Gatti's characterful conducting added to the mood of rustic abandon. The Royal Philharmonic's strings revelled in Brahm's beefy melodies and for onceKennedy's stamping fitted the mood of the moment. When the concerto had finished, the audience went mad, and he gave us some Bach - the last movement of the third unaccompanied Sonata. He signed off by extolling the virtues of his musical partnership with Gatti and the RPO.
What a contrast to the opener - the sort of Beethoven Fifth heard 40 years ago, before modern scholarship deemed leisurely performances passe.
Beethoven needs to be confrontational, but last night's performance pussy-footed where others have made the earth move.
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 3 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
- 4 UK weather: 'Coldest night of the year' tonight as freezing temperatures plummet to -10C
- 5 Game of Thrones is most-pirated TV show of 2014
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing: Search for plane carrying 162 passengers from Indonesia to Singapore suspended overnight
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...
£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...