Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Violin Concerto in D
PERFORMER: Nigel Kennedy (violin)NDRSO/Klaus Tennstedt
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 7 54575 2 DDD
What an unlikely pair Tennstedt and Kennedy make – and what an engagingly wayward and personal performance they give of the Beethoven concerto. Tennstedt comes over as the indulgent uncle who knows just when to follow, and when to restrain, his brilliant nephew. Not that Kennedy’s performance – recorded live, without edits – is just one of gleeful high spirits (though there is some of that); in fact the strongest moments in the performance are the more mysterious and meditative ones, which he plays with rare poetry and sensitivity. Kennedy finds a Romantic mood in those passages which you’d always thought were straightforwardly cheerful. For example, the sturdy peasant dance which forms the main theme of the last movement sounds delicately pastel-shaded, at times even regretful, in this performance.

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What you miss is that sense of radiant and calm strength that a performer like Oistrakh brings to the first movement, but the second and third movements more than make up for this. Only in Kennedy’s cadenza to the last movement, which has a weirdly Arabic flavour, does he really seem to have ‘done some damage’ to Beethoven. The recording is admirably clear and full-toned, giving just the right degree of prominence to the soloist. Ivan Hewett