After restoring his first name, Nigel Kennedy (aka, the artist formerly known as Kennedy), released a series of recordings on EMI as virtuosic and eccentric as himself: East Meets East, Inner Thoughts, The Vivaldi Album, and the Blue Note Sessions. But despite the enormous musical diversity of those records, little could have prepared one for the album that followed: Polish Spirit, featuring violin concertos by Emil Mlynarski and Mieczyslaw Karlowicz and arrangements of Chopin's 2 Nocturnes, Op. 9. This music is virtually unknown outside of Poland: Karlowicz's Violin Concerto had been recorded only three times in the digital era, nothing by Mlynarski was in print at the time of this release, and none of Kresimir Debski's Chopin transcriptions had heretofore been recorded. But as Kennedy so abundantly demonstrates, each work here deserves to be better known. Both Mlynarski and Karlowicz's concertos are big, late Romantic works with song-like openings, penetrating central Andantes, and spirited closing Vivaces, and Kennedy plays them with his characteristic blend of panache and intensity. With the plush-toned Polish Chamber Orchestra and the strong-willed Kaspszyk, Kennedy turns in performances that make the best possible case for the music. What more could anyone reasonably ask for? Recorded in the Filharmonia Pomorska in Bydgoszcz, Poland, EMI's digital sound is colorful and full.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Concerto for violin & orchestra No. 2 in D major, Op. 16|
|Concerto for violin & orchestra in A major, Op. 8|