The rockstar violinist returns with an electric new interpretation of Vivaldi's Four Seasons
In 1989 a 32 year-old Nigel Kennedy made his reputation with a blockbuster recording of Vivaldi: Four Seasons that’s still selling well. Now he has remade that Baroque masterpiece in his own bad-boy image, adding electric guitar, birdsong samples, jazz trumpet and vibes.
If this sounds heretical, it’s hardly the most eccentric arrangement released in the decades since then: these concertos for string orchestra became the most recorded piece in classical music in history, attracting artists as diverse as the New Koto Ensemble, the Swingle Singers and William Shatner.
Skeptics who suspect Kennedy’s launch tour of Vivaldi 4S Version 2.0 is just a way to sell a sequel album should perhaps consider his long record of live performance, the effort he puts into audience engagement at his concerts, and his work on jazz, klezmer and other genres.
And anyone who accuses him of deforming a masterpiece into a personalized star vehicle should remember that Vivaldi himself was a tireless show-off on the violin, and that he died a pauper because by the age of 60 his music had fallen out of fashion. How could he have imagined that after 300 years these four concertos would become so endlessly popular and durable?