Saturday, 26 May 2018

Nigel Kennedy - Kennedy Meets Gershwin, album review


Being Candid, Kennedy Plays Better Than Villa Did Today...

The opener, Rhapsody in Claret & Blue, sounds initially like the theme music to a 60s BBC drama serial, nothing literary and instead homegrown in black and white clich├ęs and with its title an obvious cop/detective duo [that’s one named Claret, the other….and yes I know it’s actually the colours of Aston Villa FC, who lost their play-off game today, my son-in-law a lifelong fan and season ticket holder, so my sympathies all around, Rhapsody in Blue a perfect empathetic original title], but it soon enough reveals itself as a Gershwin, as it would being in the title of the album, but it also quite quickly becomes rather playful, as it would being Nigel Kennedy.

The playfulness is infectious because it seems full of affection for the original songs, and of course it is virtuoso in its frolicking. Knowing such famous songs so well the listener expects to hear their melodies, and does, and so it is the dancing around and in these which adds further delight. Summertime, however, takes its time wonderfully to get to that melodic line, the violin strains building and building, bluesy and swirling, and the brooding pace with sharp string hits and then light touches is tauntingly compelling. As is its psychedelic close: far-out.

The accompanying ensemble of players add their own brilliant tones, like the flute in Summertime, and the players are:

Howard Alden & Rolf “die Kobra” Bussalb (guitars)
Beata Urbanek-Kalinowska (cello)
Tomasz “Insomnia” Kupiec (bass)
Members of the Orchestra of Life: Alicja Smietana & Sonja Schebeck (violins), David Heath (flutes)

with Nigel Kennedy (violin, viola, piano, Hammond, harpsichord)

Porgy and Bess is beautiful, by the way.

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