KENNEDY: The Four Elements.
Nigel Kennedy (violin), Members of the Orchestra of Life.
Sony 88697927152 TT: 59:41.
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Come for the pretention; stay for the drivel. Nigel Kennedy plays the fiddle better than most. Unfortunately, not content with that and in his latest attempt to try one's patience, he wants to be taken for an Artist -- that is, one who, through his super-intuition, divines the Cosmos. No one has apparently ever told Kennedy that in many ways his mind is full of Silly Putty.

The Four Elements has something to do with air, water, fire, and earth -- don't ask me what. It mainly exhorts the listener to achieve Nigel Kennedy's higher state of consciousness. The lyrics, pure junk, remind me of conversations I used to have with friends while they got high in the Sixties. Spouting the most impaired nonsense, they were convinced (at least while the weed lasted) their thoughts most profound. Here's a bit of Kennedy, apparently high on life:

Unpredictable and free air taking cvontrol
Time will play a silent lead
As you let yourself go.

Takes you higher
Takles you higher

Unrestricting energy
Lighter than the flow
Take a breath and just release
As you let yourself go


Hardly "I am the slayer and the slain." In short, the composer has written an ode to himself.

This might not matter so much if the music were decent, but it's just as simple-minded as the text. Not one decent theme, improvisatory rambling rather than real development, and a constant Phil-Spector wall of sound -- over-mixed, over-miked, multi-tracked and reverbed to sonic death, slathered with an elephantine bass.

I should point out that Kennedy doesn't claim this is classical music. It is his "non-classical music." Even so, it fails to come up to the standards of Brian Wilson, Roger McGuinn, Robbie Robertson, the Beatles, or Frank Zappa. Imagine, if you can, Philip Glass without either the taste or a good editor.

Why Sony indulged him in this bit of musical styrofoam, I have no idea. Don't say I didn't try to warn you.


S.G.S. (April 2012)