Arcangelo Corelli's remarkable reputation, established during his lifetime and maintained ever since, is based almost exclusively on his six published collections of works: the Trio Sonatas, Opp.1-4, the Concerti grossi, Op.6, and the twelve violin sonatas recorded here. Born in 1653 into a family of prosperous landowners, and trained as a violinist in Bologna, by his mid-twenties Corelli was in Rome and there rose rapidly to the peak of his profession. As both performer and composer he was renowned as a perfectionist, a fact reflected in both the size of his output and the polish with which it was prepared for publication.
Wildlife adventurer Nigel Marven is traveling 6000 miles, following grey whales as they undertake the longest mammal migration on Earth, up the Pacific coast of North America. From the warm winter birthing lagoons of Baja California, Mexico, a grey whale mother and her newborn calf must travel northwards to the icy seas of the Alaskan Arctic. It’s a long, dangerous journey, past some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery. On land, he finds snakes, bears, eagles and antelope, while out on the ocean waves he comes across a supporting cast of boisterous dolphins, playful sea lions, huge humpbacks and deadly killer whales.
If anyone has earned the right to mess around with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons it is Nigel Kennedy, the violin world’s Marmite violinist. Remember how fresh he made this music sound on his recording of a quarter-century ago? This latest version offers a ferment of all he’s played since – concertos, jazz, Jimi Hendrix. It’s affectionate and irreverent in equal measure, and Kennedy and his Orchestra of Life never sound less than riveting. Pretty much all Vivaldi’s notes are there; around, above and in between them come interjections, overlays and linking passages involving guest musicians from jazz and rock: Orphy Robinson, Damon Reece, Z-Star and others. Spring is welcomed in by a distant-sounding intro on an electric-guitar. Summer’s storms bring forth bursts of crazily sampled static. Autumn tears off at a cracking pace, but with a jazz trumpet sauntering lazily over the top. It all sounds like a colossal jam session from the inside of a Botticelli painting.
Medieval Baebes and other far greater shocks to the bourgeoisie have come along. Wild adventures placed under the rubric of performances of Vivaldi's Four Seasons are commonplace. Yet Nigel Kennedy continues to roost atop the classical sales charts in Europe, and even to command a decent following in the U.S. despite a low American tolerance for British eccentricity. How does he do it? He has kept reinventing himself successfully. Perhaps he's the classical world's version of Madonna: he's possessed of both unerring commercial instincts and with enough of a sense of style to be able to dress them up as forms of rebellion. Inner Thoughts is a collection of slow movements – inner movements of famous concertos from Bach and Vivaldi to Brahms, Bruch, and Elgar. Actually, the only composer falling into the middle of that large chronological gap is Mendelssohn; Kennedy apparently needs a sort of otherworldly serenity for this project, which Baroque and post-Romantic slow movements may have, but Mozart does not. At any rate, this is no radical idea; it's a softball straight up the middle.