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  • Elgar: Violin Concerto/Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
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Elgar: Violin Concerto/Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending


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Audio CD, January 20, 1998
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Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Violin Concerto in B Minor, Op.61: I. AllegroNigel Kennedy/Sir Simon Rattle/City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra18:11Album Only
listen  2. Violin Concerto in B Minor, Op.61: II. AndanteNigel Kennedy/City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Sir Simon Rattle14:29Album Only
listen  3. Violin Concerto in B Minor, Op.61: III. Allegro molto - Cadenza (accompagnata: Lento) - Allegro molto (Tempo I)Nigel Kennedy/City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Sir Simon Rattle21:30Album Only
listen  4. The Lark Ascending: Romance for violin and orchestraNigel Kennedy/Sir Simon Rattle17:39Album Only

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Product Details

  • Performer: Nigel Kennedy
  • Orchestra: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Simon Rattle
  • Composer: Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Audio CD (January 20, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B000002RYN
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #265,757 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In July 1997, after a five-year self-imposed exile from the world of classical music, Nigel Kennedy returned to the scene of one of his earlier triumphs with this incident-packed account of the Elgar concerto. It's a reading which, in the first two movements at least, displays a bristling temperament, rapt ardour and go-for-broke spontaneity rare in a studio recording. In the opening Allegro, Kennedy's superbly commanding first entry as well as his ravishing handling of the "Windflower" second subject movingly recall Albert Sammons's miraculous 1929 recording with Sir Henry Wood (and there can be no higher praise than that!). Oddly, the finale is not quite on the same level, being somewhat too brusque and calculated for comfort (Kennedy's playing in the exquisite cadenza was more moving in his earlier recording with Vernon Handley). Overall, though, it's a thrilling display, brimming with charisma and imaginative insight. Kennedy and Rattle's incredibly leisurely, self-consciously luxuriant way with The Lark Ascending (one of Vaughan Williams's most sublimely evocative nature-poems) will probably not be everyone's cup of tea, but their performance of the Elgar just has to be experienced. --Andrew Achenbach

Amazon.com

In July 1997, after a five-year self-imposed exile from the world of classical music, Nigel Kennedy--now known simply as Kennedy--returned to the scene of one of his earlier triumphs with this incident-packed account of the Elgar concerto. It's a reading that, in the first two movements, at least, displays a bristling temperament, rapt ardor, and go-for-broke spontaneity rare in a studio recording. In the opening Allegro, Kennedy's superbly commanding first entry as well as his ravishing handling of the "Windflower" second subject movingly recall Albert Sammons's miraculous 1929 recording with Sir Henry Wood (and there can be no higher praise than that). Oddly, the finale is not quite on the same level, being somewhat too brusque and calculated for comfort (Kennedy's playing in the exquisite cadenza was more moving in his earlier recording with Vernon Handley). Overall, though, it's a thrilling display, brimming with charisma and imaginative insight. Kennedy and Rattle's incredibly leisurely, self-consciously luxuriant way with The Lark Ascending (one of Vaughan Williams's most sublimely evocative nature poems) will probably not be everyone's cup of tea, but their performance of the Elgar simply must be experienced. --Andrew Achenbach

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
To me, it all adds up to an intensely personal and emotional performance.
KH
Prepare to sit back and do some serious thinking on life, as that is what the music will inevitably make you want to do.
Andrew R. Barnard
Both versions are very satisfying but one might as well be listening to two performances by two different players.
I. Giles

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By KH on April 10, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is Kennedy's second recording of this work--the first was with Vernon Handly and the London Phil, also for EMI. That first recording was excellent, though pretty straightforward. This remake is truly bizarre in many ways, yet ultimately the most moving recording of the work yet made. It is one of the slowest recordings of this music, but there is great pulse and variety within each movement--generally, Kennedy lingers when he takes the center stage, and Rattle and the orchestra inject impetuosity when they take center stage. It makes for a tug of war, but ultimately an exciting one. Kennedy obviously loves this work--no one has ever played it better. Some may say he loves it to death, fiddling with tempi, drawing out a phrase here, digging into one there. To me, it all adds up to an intensely personal and emotional performance.
Recorded sound is first rate. Rattle and his orchestra are world class, bold and fierce where appropriate, meltingly beautiful when needed. If I could only have one recording of this music, it would be this one; however, people learning the work for the first time may find Kennedy's first recording more cogent and approachable.
The Lark Ascending is by far the slowest recording ever; it's amazing Kennedy can maintain his intonation at the end. Some may find the performance grotesquely drawn out; again, I hear a deeply felt performance.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jay on October 26, 2002
Format: Audio CD
OK I confess, I have never rated Kennedy as a soloist. Particularly when I compare him with Menuhin, Oistrakh ,Heifetz or even Vengerov, but this recording has made me reconsider. For me most studio recordings of classical music made during the last 15 - 20 years have a homogeneous quality which leaves precious little room for artistic interpretation. With that in mind I find Kennedy's spontaneity in the Lark Ascending and the first and second movements of the concerto a refreshing break with convention and a little more in the finale would have added greatly to the whole. After growing up listening to the great Menuhin/Elgar recording on LP belonging to my late uncle and being reintroduced to it via the even better Sammons/Wood performance when I was in university, I honestly wasn't expecting much from this CD, but I was oh so happy to be wrong. As great as the old recordings are - and they remain the touchstone recordings - there are times for me, when the 78rpm sourced sound can get in the way of the music and make me long for a great stereo performance. Now I have it and many late (and enjoyable!) nights have been spent in the company of this CD. If you are looking for a modern recording of the Elgar Concerto, this is the one. Period!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Karl Henning on November 16, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Even if he had not written a great deal of other brilliant music, Elgar's concerti for violin and violoncello assure him a place among music's immortals. Nigel Kennedy does a great job here; he and Simon Rattle work so well together here, it is a shame that Kennedy's famous temperament doesn't permit him to work with Rattle more (but maybe Rattle is temperamental too, who knows?)
The one time I heard Kennedy live, my shoulder was tapped to turn pages for his accompanist in the Elgar violin sonata. Before that afternoon, I hadn't realized Elgar ever wrote a violin sonata. The brilliance of that piece, and the brilliance of Nigel's performance that day (he also played his heart out in the Bartók solo sonata) are captured unfailingly in all this disc, for all its being a different occasion and different music.
Had never heard the Vaughan Williams before; marvelous, gossamer, magical.
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Format: Audio CD
American concert audiences have never taken to the Elgar Violin Concerto, or to Elgar's Edwardian idiom in general, with its imperial augustness and Brahmsian thickness of tone. This 1997 CD by Rattle and Kennedy should ignite our enthusiasm. The work sounds like a stone masterpiece given such passionate commitment from soloist, conducotr, and orchestra, aided by wonderfully clear and natural sound from EMI.

Conventiona wisdom has it that the Elgar cello concerto is much more accessible than this work, and that's probably so, since the violin concreto is vauntingly ambitious. The orchestral introduction to the first movement is so symphonic that it doesn't seem to leave room for the soloist; far from preparing the way for him, it smothers us in huge, thickly layered harmonies. The solo violin thus plays a complex game with the orchestra, fighting for stature and in Kennedy's hands finding it. The whole work is oon an immense scale--outstretching even the Brahms concerto--and has to be listened to that way. I am only beginning to fathom it, but I find myself fascinated. A great performance like this one certainly helps.

P.S. 2010 - I am letting my original review stand, but on balance I now think that the combination of Nikolaj Znaider and Sir Colin Davis on RCA/BMG presents a better performance, one big reason being that the opening movement isn't taken so slowly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By renee on August 18, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I purchased this disc soley for The Lark Ascending. This is one of my all-time favorite works and I considered Iona Brown's rendition to be the ultimate tribute to the piece. But recently, while listening to the radio, I heard a version that stopped me in my tracks and I listened intently for the performer after the piece was completed. It was played by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, led by Simon Rattle, with solo work by Kennedy. I had to have a copy. No question. I hadn't heard of "Kennedy" before, but after hearing his "Lark Ascending, I knew I wanted his interpretation in my collection. I'm not sure I can pinpoint the difference in the two performers. I still enjoy Iona Brown's interpretation, but there is something about Kenndy's that seems to bring out each individual note and still remain lyrical. I just know that as the last few notes are played, my spirit is ascending right beside the Larks.
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