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VIVALDI Concerto for 2 Violins, RV 507. 1 The Four Seasons. HENDRIX Purple Haze. TRAD Celtic Gig • Nigel Kennedy (vn), cond; Jakub Haula (vn); 1 Polish CO

This live performance is set in the stunning location of La Citadelle in Carcassonne, France; and showcases Nigel's Vivaldi canon that he has become so famous for. Joined by the Polish Chamber Orchestra, Nigel plays Vivaldi's Four Seasons and duets with the leader of the PCO; Jakub Haufa on Vivaldi's Concerto for 2 violins in C Major. The DVD also features two excellent and very different encores; a take on Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" and a traditional celtic piece; that both highlight Kennedy's ability to interact with his audience.

This one’s either more outrageous or more inspired, depending on the listener’s point of view. But to be sure, after decades of playing the Seasons , Kennedy might to be allowed to experiment a bit. Okay, more than a bit. Okay, okay, a lot more than a bit—a very lot more. Yet his version doesn’t leap so far beyond the style of the most explosive versions of period-instrument devotees than those performances leapt beyond those of staid, sweet-toned Italian counterparts from the 1950s and 1960s. If it doesn’t represent unbroken continuity, this performance isn’t exactly a topic for the application of mathematical catastrophe theory, either.

The recorded sound matches the textures’ crispness. Those who feel that typical concerts do little to recreate the actual excitement of earlier periods, despite their impeccably scholarly underpinnings, might consider watching Kennedy play to his audiences, not just in front of them. Others will surely be as repelled as critics of stagnation will be gratified (if classical music’s going to go out, they might contend, it should be with a bang, not a whimper). Me, I’d swallow it whole: it’s infectious and highly entertaining. (

Strongly recommended, with equally strong caveats.

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  • Seller location: Lower Hutt City, Wellington, NZ

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