Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Joshua Bell live with ASO at Bass Concert Hall September 3rd Austin, TX

Thare are a few cherished moments in my life when I can say I've experienced true unfeigned beauty and experiencing Joshua Bell live for the first time ever is definitely one of them. This past Sunday, September 3rd, Bell performed the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D maj., Op. 61 with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. If you are unfamiliar with who Joshua Bell is, one can easily sum him up as a violin virtuoso and yet I feel that title falls short. Hearing Joshua Bell play his nearly 300 year old Strad on a CD doesn't even remotely compare to hearing it live--I don't care how great the stereo sound system is. With that said, I have a feeling that he could easily make a beat up instrument missing half its strings purchased from a pawn shop sound beautiful which is why I think virtuoso doesn't cut it since that word really only covers technical agility which Bell definitely has and then some.

Bell is one of the most expressive musicians in the world. Not only can you hear the passion in his playing, but to actually see him on stage exuding all this emotion is almost otherworldly. Right as Maestro Peter Bay cued the first down beat, Bell closed his eyes and began to sway side to side with the opening notes of movement one. He's performing completely for himself and one gets the notion that every molecule in his body senses the music. And yet, because of his intensity, you're completely drawn in as an audience member, easily connecting to him. "He's breathing to the beat!" my mother turned to me and whispered in my ear at one point after unabashedly gazing through binoculars (I guess I'll state the obvious....Joshua Bell is absolutely beautiful physically as well. For you insane fans out there, he was a wearing a dark cobalt blue button up shirt, black slacks and shiny well-polished black shoes...)

His interpretation of Beethoven's Violin Concerto was wonderfully tasteful and devoid of any of the unnecessary aggression I tend to hear from other performers. Just like his public persona, his playing style is very unpretentious and pure. You could really hear his impeccable intonation, lovely phrasing and clean technique. The cadenzas, written by Bell himself, were breathtaking and rendered with a keen balance of technical virtuosity and mature phrasing in mind. All of it sounded sweet and effortless. I should note that I am not a huge fan of the Violin Concerto in D merely because I have heard it too many times (think Fantasia and trippy dancing hippos) and can practically recite it note for note in my head.

My most favorite part of the concert was when he came out and performed a passage completely solo from the movie soundtrack Red Violin. Upon finishing, many individuals gasped (including me) and then audience members were quickly up on their feet shouting "bravo" and filling Bass Concert Hall with thunderous applause.

Best concert ever.

Unfortunately, the published studio recording of this piece linked below falls very short in comparison to what was presented at the concert. However, due to the original cadenza's I still highly recommend purchasing the CD.

Listen to:
"Cadenza from Beethoven Violin Concerto in D Op. 61 mvt. 3"(clip)

Joshua Bell's Official Website
Buy Joshua Bell- Violin Concertos: Mendelssohn and Beethoven from Amazon
Purchase Newest release, Voice of the Violin

His newest release Voice of the Violin was released today and features ones of my favorite songs of all time "Laudate Dominum" from the Vesperae solennes de confessore for soloists, chorus & orchestra, K. 339 by Mozart. I'm not too keen on the CD art though...for God's sake, wrinkles are normal for a 40 year old!


Anonymous Shawn said...

Hey Cindy,

Long time no listen. Been busy with school.
Nice classical stuff!

Thursday, September 07, 2006  
Anonymous cchang said...

The concert was rocking, let me tell you. Congrats for passing pre-lims by the way!

Sunday, September 10, 2006  
Anonymous alienated_bookworm said...

I went to the Friday night concert, Sept. 1, but otherwise couldn't agree with you more. Beautiful! Loved the Brahms, too!

Thursday, September 14, 2006  
Anonymous cchang said...

I'm glad you got to see him too, aliented_bookworm. What did you think of the acoustics of Bass Concert hall?

Friday, September 15, 2006  
Anonymous alienated_bookworm said...

I sat on the balcony this time ( as a season pass holder for opera and ballet I'm usually in the rear orchestra) and must say up there the accoustics were awesome! You got a stiff neck from looking down, of course, but the music was so awesome you didn't notice until afterwards, so who cares? ;-)

Sunday, September 17, 2006  
Anonymous cchang said...

We were 1st balcony too in the front section and it was just perfect for me. My mom actually brought binoculars even though we could see just fine. LOL!

Monday, September 18, 2006  

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