Vivaldi: The New Four Seasons

Nigel Kennedy

(CD - Sony Classical #88875076722)

Review by James Manheim

When you see someone called Z-Star among the guest artists, it's a fair bet that you're not getting a conventional recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons violin concertos. And sure enough, bad-boy violinist Nigel Kennedy and his Orchestra of Life use the score as a starting point for various kinds of embroidery. There are beats, long solo interjections, abrupt tempo shifts, electronics, rock guitars, and samples of various kinds of outdoor sounds, some of them quite loud, and so on. How you'll feel about this may well depend on your stance toward The Nige in the first place, but give this a chance either way: several things make it work better than you might guess. One is fidelity to Vivaldi's spirit, if not to his notes: Kennedy reproduces (in English) the sonnets, perhaps by Vivaldi himself, that accompanied the original score, and his sound effects generally correspond to the scenes in the poetry. Second, Kennedy has perhaps never played better than he does here, slashing through his various heavy accompaniments with brilliance and speed. And finally, there's an X factor here that's due to a certain break-on-through-to-the-other-side quality. The performance is not just loud and brash but focused and intense as well. In all, you may be left with the impression that if Liszt had known Vivaldi's music and had had access to modern popular forms and technologies, he might have come up with something like this. Even if not, it's a wild, wild ride.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
The New Four Seasons
1 Nigel Kennedy 03:46 Amazon
2 Nigel Kennedy 02:24 Amazon
3 Nigel Kennedy 02:17 Amazon
4 Nigel Kennedy 01:02 Amazon
5 Nigel Kennedy 05:07 Amazon
6 Nigel Kennedy 05:17 Amazon
7 Nigel Kennedy 01:34 Amazon
8 Nigel Kennedy 03:26 Amazon
9 Nigel Kennedy 00:48 Amazon
10 Nigel Kennedy 03:01 Amazon
11 Nigel Kennedy 05:16 Amazon
12 Nigel Kennedy 01:38 Amazon
13 Nigel Kennedy 02:53 Amazon
14 Nigel Kennedy 06:30 Amazon
15 Nigel Kennedy 04:18 Amazon
16 Nigel Kennedy 01:19 Amazon
17 Nigel Kennedy 03:10 Amazon
18 Nigel Kennedy 01:48 Amazon
19 Nigel Kennedy 01:12 Amazon
20 Nigel Kennedy 03:38 Amazon
21 Nigel Kennedy 00:45 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick