To mark the 20th anniversary of Nigel Kennedy’s Four Seasons recording, EMI is releasing a special anniversary edition on September 7.
Kennedy’s Four Seasons created a media frenzy when released in 1989 – the year of Karajan’s death, political upheaval in eastern Europe and the Tiananmen Square protests. Not only was Kennedy’s Four Seasons at the top of the classical chart for over a year, but it crossed the threshold into the pop chart as well, reaching number three, and went on to enter the Guinness Book of Records as the bestselling classical recording. Along with Kennedy’s astonishing artistry, a big part of his success was due to his unconventional and effervescent personality, and he became a regular figure on television and radio, enthusing a younger and more diverse audience for classical music.
In Gramophone’s August issue, young Sony-signed violinist Jack Liebeck described the impact that the Four Seasons had, recalling how Kennedy “blew the cobwebs out of the [classical music] industry”. The record arguably led the way for the increasingly commercial marketing of classical musicians and – though it was not part of this trend itself – for the subsequent growth in crossover classical releases.
As well as the original recording, EMI’s anniversary edition includes an award-winning film, previously un-issued images, memorabilia and a written account of the original disc’s release and reception.
Lucy De Butts