This is the kind of selection that feels tailor made for someone like Kennedy. Lots of pyrotechnics. And he shows off. And that’s great. But I feel much the way about this set that I feel about so much of Elgar and Vaughan Williams; I just feel like there is better contemporary music from the period, music that is far more engaging even if it isn’t always as virtuoso.
So this is fine, but that’s it.
Edward Elgar: Violin Concerto in B Minor (8/10)
I honestly don’t remember my first impressions of this concerto. It was one of the earlier Elgar pieces I heard, I believe. It’s understandable why it’s so famous. The soloist gets to show off. But the problem is that it’s a rather conservative piece of music for its time, compared to the stuff that is really interesting, and I’d rather hear interesting than showy, I think. That’s not to say that it’s bad, again, it’s just that it isn’t as interesting as I’d like it to be, which plagues most of Elgar’s work. But it’s part of repertoire and deservedly so. I just won’t go out of my way to listen to it.
And I honestly didn’t for some time until I forgotten that I wrote the above paragraph. But I still feel strongly that this is a very showy, pretty piece that really doesn’t do anything for me personally.
Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending (7/10)
This is one of those gorgeous pastoral “tone poems” that gets lots of attention but fails to truly arouse me. (Also, I don’t know if it’s technically a “tone poem” but that’s the closest thing I can come up with.)
It’s just very, very pretty but, in the context of the time, it sounds like escapism to my ears. And we all know how I feel about escapism.
This is apparently actually quite a musically sophisticated piece, but I don’t have the ear for that. All I hear is prettiness.
Oh and it’s the 1921 orchestrated version I’ve heard. Maybe I’d like the duo version better.