TV Highlights

What was on Monday 23rd February

Nigel Kennedy: The Four Seasons

Sky Arts 1 - 8pm

Who's in it?

Nigel Kennedy – the iconically scruffy bad boy of classical music – went to work on his violin in this blissful celebration of Vivaldi.

In a nutshell

Classical musicians don’t tend to become celebrities. But then, Nigel Kennedy was never your run of the mill fiddler. With his towering hair, baggy outfits and generally dishevelled air, he looked more like an old timey hobo or incarnation of Doctor Who than a prestigious violinist. Of course, his bad boy presentation helped make him a star, and made his recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons a must-buy even for people who’d never think of buying classical music before.

This documentary took us back to Nigel’s heyday, reminding us that – behind the cunningly commercial punk veneer – Kennedy was always an intensely serious and thoughtful interpreter of great compositions. In interviews woven between performances, he waxed lyrical about his own musical tastes (enshrining the Beatles and the Stones as classical music in their own right), and with charmingly painstaking eloquence explained his attachment to his art. The best bits had no words, of course, as we saw the man do his thing with an orchestral backing, breathing new life into the Four Seasons.

What's the verdict?

Vivaldi’s masterpiece is familiar to the point of cliché, but Kennedy’s considerable charisma helped make us hear it with, well, fresh ears. If that’s an expression. Which it isn’t. But it should be.

Star rating: 4/5

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07-07-2011