Concertos for violin - in A minor (BWV 1041)& E (BWV1042)
Concerto for two violins in D minor (BWV 1043)
Concerto for oboe and violin in D minor (BWV 1060)
Kennedy and Daniel Stabrawa (violins)
Albrecht Mayer (oboe)
with members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
CD No: EMI CDC 5 57091 2 Duration: 58 55" Reviewed: December 2000
Kennedy plays Bach
Reviewed by Colin Anderson
Im in two minds about this CD. The first listen found me enthusiastic, admiring of Kennedys musicianship, invigorated by the up-tempo fast movements and moved by the sensitive handling of the slow ones. A second spin was rather different - I thought the recording too reverberant and the musicians sound penetrating and unlovely; also those fast movements were now too quick, too emphatic (aggressive even) and predictable, though the liquid centres of the slow movements were still affecting.
Theres much to admire in Kennedys technique and in his spirit - this music really lifts of the page to rejuvenate and console - and a period awareness hovers over proceedings as the old meets the new. Baroque music Berlin style has all the attributes of musical eloquence sympathetic to Bachs expression but in the modern clothing of a sleek modern band, Kennedy first among equals and making Bach relevant - a process of sincere interpretation, sharing with colleagues and reaching out to listeners.
I doubt though I shall return as often to Kennedys CD - and really then for the confidential and unaffected slow movements - as I will to Isaac Stern for something gloriously old-fashioned (Sony SMK 66471, identical in contents, 10 minutes longer). Then theres Mullova (Philips 446 675-2; BWV 1043 replaced by 1059) who is as authentic as Kennedy but more varied and intimate in realising the concertos song and dance.
Reservations aside, Kennedy is no doubt the man to persuade reluctant listeners just how vital and moving Bachs music is. If this CD becomes a best seller I wont be surprised; if Bachs music has a whole new audience because of Kennedys pulling-power then thatll be great - musically theres nothing dull here and much that speaks directly from and to the heart.