thu 09/07/2020

BBC Proms: National Youth Orchestra, Jurowski/ Nigel Kennedy | reviews, news & interviews

BBC Proms: National Youth Orchestra, Jurowski/ Nigel Kennedy

BBC Proms: National Youth Orchestra, Jurowski/ Nigel Kennedy

This year's most youthful Prom paints a joyful picture of the future of British music

Nigel Kennedy: the perennial teenager is still picking a fight with the establishmentAll images © Chris Christodoulou

Youth was everywhere to be seen at the Proms last night. Whether in the massed ranks of Britain’s National Youth Orchestra, soloist Ben Grosvenor (even younger than the precocious Benjamin Britten when he debuted his own Piano Concerto in 1938), Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, or DJ-turned-composer Gabriel Prokofiev, it was an evening celebrating the scope of the teenage experience. Even the Late Night Prom joined in the party, coming courtesy of Nigel Kennedy, still surely the oldest and most defiant teenager in classical music.

There’s such a lot of baggage with this violinist, so much effort that goes into being a provocateur

Share this article


Was this ridiculously picky writer at the same Nigel Kennedy Prom as me? She is clueless about what was going on musically in the solo Bach. She also clearly didn't stick around because Kennedy and his musicians ended his concert, Grappelli style, with Fats Waller - an absolute joy to the ears and heart.

I'll second that. He was superb and the Bach was an absolute treat. He may not be the best technician in the world, but for sheer verve, bravery and passion, he is second to none. And the concert began 25 minutes late because the Albert Hall front of house team didn't open the doors until a couple of minutes before 10.00pm and the Arena took a good twenty minutes to fill up (still selling last minute tickets?). It was a front of house issue, nothing to do with Nigel Kennedy.

The reason Kennedy was late on-stage was because of the multiple encores for the (splendid) NYO beforehand, due no doubt to the preponderance of friends and family in the audience. This was compounded by convoluted collections of progeny and farewells. I appreciate the reviewer may have conscientiously rushed to her seat for the 10pm kick-off, but they were still letting the audience in through the doors! Kennedy starting at that point would have been truly 'sloppy'. Agree with your NYO review though. Pianist was fabulous, and DJ Switch mash up had the audience hanging on every beat...

Alexandra's catty comment that Nigel Kennedy "kept his audience waiting" is untrue and disengenuous. The concert started late because the earlier prom finished late, because it took time to clear and then refill the Hall, and because it took longer than expected to sell tickets to the promenaders and get them into the arena. If Alexandra wants to write Red Top reviews she should join the "News of the World". She has brought no credit to The Arts Desk by writing this review. You can listen to the concert on BBC iPlayer for the next week or so and see it on BBC4 TV on 9th September 2011. I recommend it.

I completely agree with the earlier comments. If the reviewer had in fact been in her seat at 10pm then it would have been fairly obvious that she would have been sitting in a half empty arena...not rocket science to deduce that the delay was nothing to do with Nigel! As for anything was fabulous. Whatever he may lose on technicalities (and Im no expert so really wouldnt have noticed) he makes up for with passion and charisma and personality. I'd go and see him play Knees Up Mother Brown!

They had to let us all in before the concert could start. Intonation and technical sloppiness?? I agree this critic hasn't got a clue. No Bach violin recital is absolutely note perfect and Nigel Kennedy's reading of the D minor concerto was a profound experience. This was genuine musicianship with genuine personality. The Chaconne was stunning. He didn't need musicians on stage to communicate with. It felt like he was communicating with every one of us and it made the Albert Hall seem like the Wigmore. I hope the BBC makes it available and also that Kennedy does more Bach recitals in the future.

NYO did not even play Masks at the Proms...

I agree. The critic seems to have an issue with Nigel Kennedy as a person. Who gives a damn if there was an odd out of tune note? With risk takers, there always is. I'd prefer to hear someone like Kennedy play than some boring note perfect machine. I can see how he might irritate people who are not involved in music but she should just see through that. You learn something new every time you listen to him. The d minor Bach was just brilliant. We loved the way he invited us to his Fats Waller party and we all left on a high. For me, this was the best Prom of the Season.

"The critic seems to have an issue with Nigel Kennedy as a person. Who gives a damn if there was an odd out of tune note?" Hmmm. You went to a Prom, not a school recital. Who knew there was such Kennedy fanboyism? With friends like these...

Nigel Kennedy just objectively wasn't out of tune or sloppy, regardless of what one thinks of his persona. 'Masks gave the players an opportunity to showcase their characterisation skills' writes Ms. Coghlan. Considering Maestro Jurowski didn't actually include 'Masks' in his selections from the piece, (information prominently displayed) one wonders whether she a) was actually at the concert, or b) just doesn't really listen or engage with music. Still, we know a lot about her journey home from the concert, so that's something. Ms. Coghlan worries that us Kennedy supporters will shout her down for writing about 'technical details' - if only she had.

Now now, Josh Spero, I can't let you get away with that. "Hmmm. You went to a Prom, not a school recital. Who knew there was such Kennedy fanboyism? With friends like these..." An appreciation of greatness is not 'fanboyism'. When Ayrton Senna drove a racing car, he didn't always adhere to the perfect racing line, but he was sublime. When Gower was at the crease, not every shot was to be found in the schoolboy handbook, but he was a true artist. And when Sinatra sang, he often went 'off piste' and changed the words, but he was an extraordinary talent. I could go on. This music was written to be performed and interpreted. How anyone could have sat in the Albert Hall last night and been 'fussy' about the technicalities is beyond me. We were in the presence of a soaring, extraordinary talent. A privilege.

Apologies Oliver, you are of course quite correct. I intended to refer to Juliet As A Young Girl and when writing in the early hours of the morning got my marginal notes in a tangle. All reference to the late start of the concert has been removed as it was a front of house issue rather than an artistic one.

why the hell was DJ switch allowed to wear a t shirt? he should have been suited and booted like the rest of them. would have given a much better impression. like this he looked like a \DJ\" and to me looked ridiculous and I am a DJ myself"

I have only just seen the comments & would like to add a reply to the comment made by Monevator. Monevator refers to the "preponderance of friends and family in the audience" Taking into account a supposed audience of 5500 & divide by the member of NYO, that means that each performer had on average 33 friends & family attending. Thats not very likely.

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters