> ELGAR violin concerto Kennedy [CF]: Classical CD Reviews- July2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Edward ELGAR (1865-1934)
Violin Concerto in B minor Op.61
Kennedy (violin)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley
Recorded at Watford Town Hall on 21 and 22 March 1984
EMI CLASSICS 7243 5 75139 2 [53’58"]


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Kreisler wished in 1905 that Elgar ‘would write something for the violin’, and so he did, beginning in October that year. However it took five years to come to the front of a queue of compositions before it saw the light of day at a Philharmonic Society concert in Queen’s Hall on 10 November 1910. Its preface contains another one of the composer’s enigmas, an incomplete dedication which reads (‘Aquí está encerrada el alma de … (‘herein is enshrined the soul of …..’) a quotation from Lesage’s ‘Gil Blas’. The unusual number of five dots only adds to the enigma, though Alice Stuart Wortley seems a plausible solution (but then so is Elgar himself, Alice his wife, the violin, and so on). Whatever the answer, the music remains one of Elgar’s most intense compositions, adapting the classical concerto form to suit his own creative ideas, including the strikingly original accompanied cadenza in the final movement. ‘It’s good!’ wrote Elgar, ‘awfully emotional! Too emotional, but I love it.’

Mercifully pre-dating all the hype, spin, and froth about haircuts and crossover music, Nigel Kennedy (with his Christian name proudly included eighteen years ago) gives an account comparable to the famous youthful Menuhin under the composer’s baton. Its artistry matches that of Beethoven’s concerto which he was to record in partnership with the late Klaus Tennstedt. With Vernon Handley at the helm, and guiding an inspired performance of Boultian dimensions, yet imposing his own personality at the same time, and with the LPO at their finest, this is an essential CD for lovers of Elgar.

Christopher Fifield

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