Well, in February he was to be found in Germany, touring with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, which he directed himself, playing Bach violin concertos. So what went on ?
NIGEL IN BERLIN:
In Berlin Nigel gave a positively surreal interview to Sebastien Bauer for the Berliner Zeitung, in the course of which he informed Herr Bauer that he is fully toilet trained and knows how to use the toilet (that’s a weight off all our minds, right ?) and then goes on to deliver a comment containing a marvelous non-sequitur by saying that he has Irish roots and therefore he is tolerant of a great deal ! Well, Nigel, I have an Irish doctor and when it comes to tolerance, that, I think, was completely omitted from his nature when he was born , replaced by a good old Irish temper! I should add that he’s a first-rate doctor and I love him dearly ! The rest of the interview consists of questions about hotel bans and joints………..no, I’m not going to tell you anything else about this interview and moreover I’m not going to make it easy for you to go to that site and read it for yourselves. If you should, by any remote chance, actually WANT to read it all………..well, you’re on your own, okay ?
Let’s move on to the concert at the Philharmonic. Sybil Mahlke wrote about it for Der Tagespiel:
Don’t grow up, Nigel ! Then I won’t have to either !
NIGEL IN COLOGNE:
In a second interview, this one given to Markus Schwering for the Kolner Stadt-Anzeiger. Nigel spoke briefly about his new CD, i.e. The Four Seasons: The Rewrite, saying that he dares do more with it now than the other times he recorded it. Since that CD hasn’t been released yet, let’s move on to what he had to say about Bach. Which really is interesting.
Nigel tells Herr Schwering that he plays Bach every day, an hour or two after he gets up, and that he finds something new every day. Asked for an example, this is what he replies:
‘There is the emphasis and phrasing of a fugue subject, depending on the notes of harmony, even the structure over a long distance away. How you play something on top, which has great influence on what is to come - the consequences can be extremely different. And no other composer - as in the slow movements – reaches these meditative, emotional depths as Bach does. Other composers - Beethoven, for example- were strongly influenced by the strength of Bach's harmonies. You cannot fathom the end, Bach is an infinite universe.’
Herr Schwering goes on to note that Nigel is, as he phrases it, “a wanderer between the worlds of classical, jazz and rock.” Nigel accepts this and goes on to say that
‘There is this wonderful freedom and strength of the songs in the rock music of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, their unhindered ability to be themseves exclusively. Artists such as Leonard Bernstein and Andre Previn bridge both worlds - Classical and Jazz / Rock - and were my early role models. My teacher Yehudi Menuhin played jazz – he wasn’t very good, but he was very open to different types of music. For me it is here and there, this game of question and answer, the interactive and productive relationship between me and the orchestra, me and the audience. Where things just do not run automatically, but spontaneously produce something.’
Nigel has a special relationship with Bach precisely because he doesn’t adhere to conservatory-inspired meticulous definitions of music categories. “To use a preconceived notion, “ he says, “is the enemy of art.” He wants his audiences to experience surprises and revelations, not just what they EXPECT to hear. “We artists need to be brave, take more risks – then the young people will come. Otherwise we’ll lose our audiences.”
Let me now introduce to you an amazing young woman – my granddaughter Hilary. She is fluent in four languages and when it comes to translating the other three languages into her mother tongue (English) she is unsurpassable. She has an unerring instinct for exactly the most evocative English words that will convey the meaning and spirit of the French or German or Spanish of the originals. I do speak and write French and German, and Google Chrome automatically translates foreign language articles into English for me – well, you know how THAT ends up, don’t you ? Without Hilary, I could not possibly rattle on about interviews and reviews in other languages the way I do !
NIGEL IN DUSSELDORF:
Sometimes, Google Chrome translations can be downright weird. This is what their translation thinks Wolfram Goertz said in his review of Nigel’s concert in Dusseldorf: "There are bitchy moments and holy earnestness.’
With Hilary’s help, I got this to make some kind of sense, believe it or not ! Try this:
‘There are moments of cheeky interpretations, but overall a deeply serious reverence for the music.’
I do think that’s a littler closer to what Herr Goertz meant by his comment !
All the concerts were very well received. Herr Goertz goes on to say this:
‘Wonderful moments, as Kennedy in a cadenza, moves the music into klezmer and jazz and a system of spontaneous improvisation is generated, which would have very much pleased the old Kapellmeister….. without question. Kennedy's audience is considered the most tolerant of any. But his jubilation is justified. Numerous ovations, even in between the movements.'
NIGEL IN WUPPERTAL:
Anne Grages writes for the WestDeutsche Zeitung: