Thursday, February 08, 2007

Five Things about Joshua Bell

I heard the phenomenal violinist Joshua Bell on tour last night in Philadelphia at the Kimmel Center.
1. Josh was joined by pianist Jeremy Denk who was a wonderful match to collaborate with this program. The two were at ease with each other and have similar styles, both musically and technically.
2. The first half consisted of two romantic sonatas - close enough to be comparable and different enough to be contrasting. Both Schumann's first and Beethoven's last sonatas were played with passion and panache, not as if they were written two hundred years ago, but as if the ink was still fresh.
3. The ink was still fresh on Edgar Meyer's Concert Piece, but you wouldn't have guessed it from the stellar performance and interpretation - you'd guess it was an old friend that Bell and Denk could pull out anytime and just play, like the rest of the program which was "tba".
The inner movements of Meyer's piece were especially well crafted and exciting - looking forward to hearing this recorded soon. I also mentioned to a friend that I thought the Meyer stood up well against the Schumann and Beethoven. She mentioned another hearing would be awesome.
4. Bell and Denk then charmed the audience with Rachmaninoff's Vocalise, Ponce's Estrellita, and Sarasate's Introduction and Taratella. After a standing ovation, they came back for an encore - playing Tchaikovsky's None but the Weary Heart.
5. I've heard Josh many times live, and usually find something I adore about his playing. This performance it was his vibrato that captivated me. It was varied, sometimes used sparingly - I felt I had a lesson, from a narrow and quick arm vibrato to a more unique wrist motion, his sound is stellar.

Josh is touring with this recital and soon with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Check his website for more information, he's in great form.
You can also hear an interview I did with Bell before the tour here.

No comments: