Nigel Kennedy Vivaldi: The New Four Seasons, album review

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Andy Gill
Friday 30 October 2015 14:06
Nigel Kennedy Vivaldi: The New Four Seasons
Nigel Kennedy Vivaldi: The New Four Seasons

There are obvious precedents for a performer’s wholesale change of approach to a beloved staple of their repertoire – one thinks of the differences between Glenn Gould’s 1955 and 1981 Goldberg Variations, for instance.

Gould, a jazz aficionado himself, might have enjoyed Nigel Kennedy’s updating of the Four Seasons: his augmentations here are rarely rudely iconoclastic, restricted mostly to the use of drones, with the occasional understated jazz trumpet or vibes colouration.

He serves notice right at the start, when a subdued skirl of electric guitar presages the opening of Spring. Birdsong is added too, while the familiar riff surges and ebbs like pulsing EDM disco.

But Kennedy’s fingering is reliably fleet and fiery, with energised passages of buoyant spirit balanced by fine high, feathery lines as in, for instance, the depiction of the sleeping goat-herd.

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