Familiar Favorites - Matthew Kennedy. © Kennedy Music Group

CD Spotlight

An Atmosphere of Serene Beauty

Matthew Washington Kennedy's 'familiar favorites', recommended by GERALD FENECH

'Hugely pleasant stuff, passionately executed and recorded.'


This is what Matthew Kennedy, the pianist on this issue, had to say on how this project came to fruition: 'In recent years, many friends and acquaintances have asked me to record some of my piano-playing. It is personally most rewarding to complete this album in my 82nd year.' There is also a footnote on the Beethoven piece - track 1, Adagio cantabile from the Pathetique Sonata, Op 13. Kennedy reveals: 'the player must make his fingers sing ... I have attempted to do this in all the selections - therefore, I invite you to sing and hum along with my fingers.'

Listen — Beethoven: Adagio cantabile (Pathetique Sonata)
(track 1, 0:33-1:32) ℗ Kennedy Music Group :

Matthew Kennedy was born in Georgia, USA, on 10 March 1921. When just four he played his first piece by ear - a spiritual. Migrating to New York with his mother, he completed high school and earned a diploma in piano from the prestigious Juilliard Institute in 1940. That same year he entered Fisk University. Due to military service, he had to wait till 1947 to graduate, acquiring a BA in Arts. He earned a masters degree from Juilliard in 1950 and later completed a course for a PhD at George Peabody College, Nashville. In 1958 he made his piano debut at Carnegie Hall. Kennedy remained associated with Fisk University for thirty-three years, in his capacity as a member of the music faculty as well as director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. He is listed in Who's Who in America and Who's Who Among Black Musicians and is included in the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon.

This exquisite compilation of piano music was never intended to be some sort of sonic spectacular and indeed it is not. The objective is to entertain and make people relax in an atmosphere of serene beauty, while they listen to some very well known tunes played by a master pianist.

Listen — Rachmaninov: Prelude in C sharp minor, Op 3 No 2
(track 4, 0:00-0:54) ℗ Kennedy Music Group :

The programme is a mixed bag comprising pieces by Beethoven, Chopin and Rachmaninov mingled with some famous hymns such as The Lord's Prayer and Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit and other traditional melodies in the form of Tea for Two and The Londonderry Air.

Listen — traditional Irish: The Londonderry Aire
(track 9, 2:16-3:14) ℗ Kennedy Music Group :

Hugely pleasant stuff, passionately executed and recorded. Recommended, especially if you want to spend a quiet evening by the fireplace, sipping your favourite drink, surrounded by some sweet sounds swirling in your ears.

The soloist dedicated this album to the memory of his wife Anne Gamble and to his daughter Nina.

Copyright © 20 December 2020 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta






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