Nigel Kennedy may be the strangest-looking creature ever to walk out on stage at Meyerhoff Hall.
The young British violinist, who played Bruch's G Minor Concerto with the Baltimore Symphony and conductor Christopher Seaman last night, dressed like someone who had flunked out of clown school for breaking the dress code: He was wearing saddle shoes three sizes too large for him, baggy polka-dot pants and a blouson shirt, open to midchest, sequined with violins. With his spiked hair, Kennedy looks like a punk, but he plays like an angel -- albeit sometimes a fallen one.
His performance -- with Seaman and the orchestra giving him a spirited accompaniment -- was passionate, dramatic and deeply felt. Unlike some other violinists of his generation, Kennedy did not try to freight the Bruch with weighty philosophical baggage. The playing was dreamy, keening and fiery as the piece demanded. But while it was individual -- the final movement was absolutely demonic -- it was never idiosyncratic. Partly because the playing was so thrilling and partly because Kennedy cuts so unusual a figure and addresses the audience so charmingly (if unintelligibly) in his cockney accent, the audience went berserk with joy.