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Voice Of The Violin / Joshua Bell


Release Date: 09/05/2006 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 97779   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Sergei RachmaninovFranz SchubertJules MassenetGabriel Fauré,   ... 
Performer:  Joshua BellFrederic ChiuScott KuneyAnna Netrebko
Conductor:  Michael Stern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke'sWomen's Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 54 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Following hard—or not so hard—on the heels of his “crossover” collection, “Romance of the Violin” (SONY 87894, 27:4), Joshua Bell has returned with another anthology of honeyed arrangements. More than a generation ago, Isaac Stern recorded two collections of bonbons in settings for violin and orchestra; and, more recently, Gil Shaham (Deutsche Grammophon 449 923, 20:3) and Maxim Vengerov (“Vengerov & Virtuosi,” EMI 57164, 25:3, which included Vocalise, Ave Maria, and Estrellita) contributed to the genre. A listener who can tolerate the intrusion of an echoey chorus in Schubert’s Ave Maria probably won’t immediately take umbrage at J. A. C. Redford’s generally languid orchestrations (Beau soir appears in Jascha Heifetz’s arrangement for Read more violin and piano). And pieces like “In trutina” from Carmina burana represent attempts to adapt popular classics for the violin similar to those of Fritz Kreisler and Heifetz in an earlier time. It may be no coincidence that Bell mentions those two violinists as heroes.

But something sets him apart from them: it’s not his soaring cantabile, his ability to adapt tasteful portamentos to the current chastened expressive manner, the lush splendor—when he strives for it—of his tone, his incorporation of twangy expressive devices when appropriate (as in Nana), his eagerness to work with his contemporary composers in shaping vehicles for his own performance, his willingness to try his hand at composition, nor his eager exploration of opportunities like those represented in this collection for expanding his instrument’s repertoire. All these skills and passions he shares with them. But, unlike Kreisler (whose photo he propped up at a concert at the Penthouse) and Heifetz, he doesn’t always sound like himself—or maybe he just hasn’t instilled in his listeners precisely what Joshua Bell sounds like. I’ve mentioned so frequently that those two violinists identified themselves in the shortest staccato 16th notes that I risk tiring readers with the comparison. But it’s at the essence of the success of such an endeavor as Bell has undertaken. When Orff’s spiky orchestral textures soften and the limelight shifts to the soloist, an audience knows that it’s not the music itself that will win them over but, rather, the penetration and individuality of the violinist. Again, I risk becoming tiresome: Florian ZaBach, so recently and lamentably deceased, infused his personality, whole and entire, into small repertoire bits like this, employing a technical armamentarium in his arrangements and a panache in his phrasing that converted even the most commonplace phrases into uniquely personal statements. That’s not to say that Bell doesn’t play with all the virtues enumerated above: he does, and then some. But the requirements of this literature may be even more demanding than those of the standard concertos and sonatas: they require a large dose of individuality in the mixture of emotional depth and emotional expressivity.

The recorded sound, though reverberant, remains clear enough to lift out the carefully coordinated timbres, highlighted by Michael Stern and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. And Bell gracefully and graciously complements soprano Anna Netrebko in a sensitive and touching performance of Richard Strauss’s Morgen! Still, for all its musical and violinistic virtues, this anthology of similarly paced offerings should appeal more strongly to those who treasure André Rieux than those who have no need to dust off their well-worn Heifetz and ZaBach recordings. Recommended, necessarily but not necessarily heartily, for its obvious virtues and—especially for Morgen!—primarily to its special audiences.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

1. Songs (14), Op. 34: no 14, Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Joshua Bell (Violin)
Conductor:  Michael Stern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912-1915; Russia 
Venue:  Right Track Studio, New York City 
Length: 5 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Notes: Arrangers: J.A.C. Redford; Joshua Bell.
Right Track Studio, New York City (04/12/2006 - 04/14/2006)
Composition written: Russia (1912 - 1915). 
2. Ellens Gesang III, D 839/Op. 52 no 6 "Ave Maria" by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Joshua Bell (Violin)
Conductor:  Michael Stern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  Women's Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1825; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Right Track Studio, New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: Arranger: James Kessler.
Right Track Studio, New York City (04/12/2006 - 04/14/2006) 
3. Werther: Pourquoi me réveiller? by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Joshua Bell (Violin)
Conductor:  Michael Stern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; France 
Venue:  Right Track Studio, New York City 
Length: 2 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Notes: Arrangers: J.A.C. Redford; Joshua Bell.
Right Track Studio, New York City (04/12/2006 - 04/14/2006) 
4. Après un rêve, Op. 7 no 1 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Joshua Bell (Violin)
Conductor:  Michael Stern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; France 
Venue:  Right Track Studio, New York City 
Length: 2 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Notes: Arrangers: J.A.C. Redford; Joshua Bell.
Right Track Studio, New York City (04/12/2006 - 04/14/2006) 
5. Rusalka, Op. 114/B 203: O moon high up "Song to the moon" by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Joshua Bell (Violin)
Conductor:  Michael Stern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1900; Bohemia 
Venue:  Right Track Studio, New York City 
Length: 5 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Notes: Arrangers: J.A.C. Redford; Joshua Bell.
Right Track Studio, New York City (04/12/2006 - 04/14/2006) 
6. Songs (6), Op. 6: no 6, None but the lonely heart by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Joshua Bell (Violin)
Conductor:  Michael Stern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869; Russia 
Venue:  Right Track Studio, New York City 
Length: 2 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Notes: Arrangers: J.A.C. Redford; Joshua Bell.
Right Track Studio, New York City (04/12/2006 - 04/14/2006) 
7. Vesperae solennes de confessore, K 339: Laudate Dominum by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Joshua Bell (Violin)
Conductor:  Michael Stern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Classical 
Written: 1780; Salzburg, Austria 
Venue:  Right Track Studio, New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Notes: Arrangers: J.A.C. Redford; Joshua Bell.
Right Track Studio, New York City (04/12/2006 - 04/14/2006) 
8. L'Elisir d'Amore: Una furtiva lagrima by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Joshua Bell (Violin)
Conductor:  Michael Stern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1832; Italy 
Venue:  Right Track Studio, New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Notes: Arrangers: J.A.C. Redford; Joshua Bell.
Right Track Studio, New York City (04/12/2006 - 04/14/2006) 
9. Carmina burana: no 21, In trutina by Carl Orff
Performer:  Joshua Bell (Violin)
Conductor:  Michael Stern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Germany 
Venue:  Right Track Studio, New York City 
Length: 2 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Notes: Arrangers: J.A.C. Redford; Joshua Bell.
Right Track Studio, New York City (04/12/2006 - 04/14/2006) 
10. Songs without words, vol 5, Op. 62: no 1, Andante espressivo in G major "May Breezes" by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Joshua Bell (Violin)
Conductor:  Michael Stern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Germany 
Venue:  Right Track Studio, New York City 
Length: 2 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Notes: Arrangers: J.A.C. Redford; Joshua Bell.
Right Track Studio, New York City (04/12/2006 - 04/14/2006) 
11. Beau soir by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Joshua Bell (Violin), Frederic Chiu (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1880; France 
Venue:  Right Track Studio, New York City 
Length: 2 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Jascha Heifetz.
Right Track Studio, New York City (04/12/2006 - 04/14/2006) 
12. Canciones populares españolas (7): no 5, Nana by Manuel de Falla
Performer:  Scott Kuney (Guitar), Joshua Bell (Violin)
Conductor:  Michael Stern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1915; Spain 
Venue:  Right Track Studio, New York City 
Length: 2 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Notes: Arrangers: Joshua Bell; J.A.C. Redford.
Right Track Studio, New York City (04/12/2006 - 04/14/2006) 
13. Estrellita by Manuel Ponce
Performer:  Joshua Bell (Violin)
Conductor:  Michael Stern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912; Mexico 
Venue:  Right Track Studio, New York City 
Length: 3 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Notes: Arrangers: J.A.C. Redford; Joshua Bell; Jascha Heifetz.
Right Track Studio, New York City (04/12/2006 - 04/14/2006) 
14. Les pêcheurs de perles: Je crois entendre encore by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Joshua Bell (Violin)
Conductor:  Michael Stern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; France 
Venue:  Right Track Studio, New York City 
Length: 3 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Notes: Arrangers: J.A.C. Redford; Joshua Bell.
Right Track Studio, New York City (04/12/2006 - 04/14/2006) 
15. Lieder (4), Op. 27: no 4, Morgen by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Joshua Bell (Violin), Anna Netrebko (Soprano)
Conductor:  Michael Stern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; Germany 
Venue:  Right Track Studio, New York City 
Length: 3 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Version: 1897
Right Track Studio, New York City (04/12/2006 - 04/14/2006) 

Sound Samples

Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14
Ave Maria
Pourquoi me réveiller from Werther
Après un rêve, Op. 7, No. 1
Song to the Moon from Rusalka
Laudate Dominum from Vesperae solennes de confessore for soloists, chorus & orchestra, K. 339
None but the Lonely Heart, Op. 6/6
Una furtiva lagrima from L'Elisir d'Amore
In trutina from Carmina Burana
May Breezes from Songs without Words, Op. 62, No. 1
Beau soir
Estrellita
Nana (Bercuese) from Siete conciones populares Espanolas
Je crois entendre encore from The Pearl Fishers
Morgen! Op. 27, No. 4

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