Beethoven; Mozart

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven; Mozart
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven; Mozart
WORKS: Beethoven: Violin Concerto; Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 4; plus Silver: Creepin’ In
PERFORMER: Nigel Kennedy (violin, director), Michal Baranski (bass); Polish Chamber Orchestra
CATALOGUE NO: 395 3732


What a difference from Kennedy’s earlier recording of the Beethoven Concerto, where the first movement began slowly and became slower, almost grinding to a halt in the final pages. Here, the opening timpani strokes set off at a real allegro, and Kennedy, directing from the violin, shapes a vigorously phrased opening tutti. There’s some flexibility in his solo entry and the many linking cadential passages in this movement, but nothing that holds things up too much. And the Polish orchestra’s small size helps to keep the music light on its feet, even in the central lyrical section in the minor: there’s a downward change of gear, but the pulse is never flabby. Plainly Kennedy still sees the passage after the cadenza as a point of repose, but here it’s well balanced with the movement as a whole. The Larghetto isn’t quite as successful in keeping the music on the go, but is very beautiful on its own terms, and the finale – the least problematic movement – bowls along nicely, with cadenzas written by Kennedy himself. I’m not so sure about his cadenzas in the Mozart, where he goes off into a reverberant acoustic in jazz style, accompanied by some of the players from the orchestra. I quite like the music, but it doesn’t fit with Mozart’s Classical style, which Kennedy appreciates and delivers in the rest of the Concerto with relish. Those wanting a performance of the Mozart with a stylistically more sympathetic cadenza are urged to wait for the excellent new Carmignola set on DG (released 14 July and reviewed next issue). Martin Cotton