NIGEL IN BRAUNSCHWEIG
PREAMBLE: I found this short review a day after the concert. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to read the whole thing because I'm not subscribed to the Hannoverische Allgemeine (CLICK.) However I could get a one-day pass for €0.99. That seemed reasonable to me ,so I hauled out my credit card, clicked on the subscription page and waited. Well, I can speak and read German, with help for the hard bits from Hilary (who is one of my favourite people and a first-class translater !) but I couldn't make head nor tail of the instructions ( what is HAZ ? and SMS ? and HANDY ?) so I got Bing to translate them for me, as follows:
Take advantage of 24-hour HAZ.de
The HAZ you with day pass for €0.99 24 hours access to all fee-based content by HAZ.de. Her HAZ PIN get convenient and free of charge via SMS on your mobile phone. After you have genuzt the PIN to login, your prepaid account or your mobile phone bill with the amount will be charged. You agree that no subscription, a
cancellation is not necessary. For questions regarding our offer contact 407 on HAZ customer service at 0800 1234.
My mind went into lockdown mode ! But then. It came to me three days later while I was cooking supper that HAZ must stand for Hannoverische Allgemeine Zeitung. So that evening I went back to have another go and guess what ? I was able to access the whole review ! It wasn't all for nothing, though. I now know that Handy means mobile phone. Like I needed to know that ! Here 's the review:
CULTURE IN THE TENT: BRAUNSCHWEIG
By Stefan Arndt
The audience has a choice: loud or soft? The vote in the hall turns out to be not entirely clear.
So Kennedy asks a lady in the front row. And she likes it rather quietly.
Kennedy returns the electric violin to the discreet helper, who has been assisting him all evening with his instruments (and even a fresh towel from time to time !) and with his fine Italian violin plays Irish folk tunes. [NOTE: Nigel was actually playing his favourite English violin : Martin Bouette fecit.] And because the approximately 1200 listeners continue to loudly express their enthusiasm, he segues to a piece by Django Reinhardt. But the evening belonged to the composer, with whom the violinist has more intensively dealt for almost a quarter of a century : Jimi Hendrix.
It fits the image of this"punk violinist" to engage with an icon of rock music . But Kennedy is 60 years old this year and has long been one of the most successful musicians in the world. It isn’t necessary for him to do something for the image. He plays better thus: with his high-brushed hair and baggy football shirts,with a beer in his hand and a mix of British formality and gutter slang,with which he can distribute hand kisses and call the happy applauding listeners motherfuckers without anyone taking offence. Kennedy manages a weird balancing act: he is a bad boy and a gentleman at the same time.
Nigel being a gentleman !
But above all, he is an interesting musician. At The Brunswick Festival "Culture in the Tent", he doesn't present himself as the great violinist any more. Some of his runs are now rusty, and in the high positions most of the notes are no longer in the right place . But the music of Hendrix is beyond the scope of expected arrangements by far. Kennedy is not interested in opening up a new audience with easily digestible cross-over sounds. He instead digs into the depth of this booming chamber music.
Hendrix wrote his pieces for a trio of bass, guitar and drums. With Kennedy are two guitarists, Doug Boyle and Julian Buschberger, plus drummer Adam Czerwinski and bassist Tomas Kupiec. All together their improvisations on an ever denser sound network link in pieces such as "Little Wing", "Fire" and "Voodoo Child" that always asks something of the audience and sometimes overwhelmed it: Kennedy's violin wails and howls in shrill electronic distortion and almost always hits a nerve. Sure, he blended different musical worlds. There are no half measures with him.
AFTERWORD: Stefan Arndt is clearly a thoughtful and intelligent critic, but he doesn't understand that Nigel plays the notes he wants to play. Nigel's runs (glissandos) do not always conform to the conventional definition, to wit :
A glissando is a very fast sequence of notes, usually going up or down in sequential pitches. It is usually comprised of chromatic pitches, though it may imply a mode, like a major or minor key or Dorian mode, or a scale, like an Indian raga scale.
We, like Stefan Arndt, are accustomed to Western classical music, which tends, on the whole, to give us sounds that are pleasing to us. Because that's what we expect to hear. But Nigel is conversant with many other musical modes. He says:
"I've learnt new scales through playing different types of music, like Indian raga scales, gipsy scales and harmonically-based jazz scales."
And Hendrix himself doesn't present as just any old rock musician, does he ?
Widely recognized as one of the most creative and influential musicians of the 20th century, Jimi Hendrix pioneered the explosive possibilities of the electric guitar. Hendrix’s innovative style of combining fuzz, feedback and controlled distortion created a new musical form.
You can see how Stefan Arndt found Nigel's glisses "rusty," with some of the notes "not in the right place."
Decide for yourselves ! Here is Nigel playing Little Wing.
MOZART BALLS, ANYONE ?
A Mozartkugel (English: Mozart ball), is a small, round sugar confection made of pistachio marzipan, and nougat, covered with dark chocolate. It was originally known as Mozart-Bonbon, created in 1890 by Salzburg confectioner Paul Fürst (1856–1941) and named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Hand-made Original Salzburger Mozartkugeln are manufactured by Fürst's descendants up to today, while similar products have been developed by numerous confectioners, often industrially produced.
The name “Mozart balls” is just asking to have the obvious joke made about it, isn't it ? Nigel is, as we know, not above making obvious jokes..............he figures that SOMEONE has to make them !
At a concert in Cambridge he introduced Julian Buschberger as “Julian from Salzburg………….....the city of the Mozart balls,” and then asked the audience how many Mozart balls they would like.
He answered his own question, of course : “Both of them !”
And the audience laughed. Which is what I would have done, had I been there. And you too, right ?
NIGEL WHEREVER WE FIND HIM