At Home with Friends / Joshua Bell

Release Date: 9/29/2009
Label: Sony
Catalog Number: 88697527162
Orchestra/Ensemble: Tiempo Libre
Number of Discs: 1

Physical Format:

Low Stock
Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a disc that many strictly "classical" listeners may pass over--not surprisingly, since this isn't really a "classical" recording. However, its illustrious and very accomplished host deserves a chance to show another side (or sides, actually) of his musical life, one that includes informal collaboration in his New York home with artists from pop, jazz, and non-western classical genres--and so he offers this rather congenial hodge-podge that somehow goes together while juxtaposing extremely diverse styles and levels of artistic refinement.

Actually, when you hear the opening track--a fine light jazz treatment of I loves you Porgy, with Bell, pianist Billy Childs, a number of other instrumental players, and featuring jazz/pop trumpeter Chris Botti--you may just wish this group would take the whole program. But we move from Gershwin to Dowland via the voice of Sting, whose slightly strained, boyish quality is overshadowed by the lively obbligato/accompaniment of Bell's violin.

There are hits--bandoneon-ist Carel Kraayenhof and Bell in Piazzolla's Oblivion and Luis Bacalov's Il Postino; Bell, baritone Nathan Gunn, and pianist Jeremy Denk in Rachmaninov's song O, cease thy singing, maiden fair (with obbligato by Fritz Kreisler); Ravi Shankar's duet for sitar and violin, performed by daughter Anoushka and Bell; Bell and Marvin Hamlisch's rendition of I'll take Manhattan--and misses: pop singer Josh Groban's Cinema Paradiso (exactly what language is that...?); Kristin Chenoweth's unconvincing, uncomfortable My Funny Valentine (not her song); bassist Edgar Meyer and mandolinist Chris Thile's weirdly meandering Look Away. But hey, this is a hodge-podge meant to capture the spirit of Bell's "anything goes" house concerts--and in that it succeeds.

Of course, the recordings were not actually made in Bell's home--rather they were made in a couple of different studios, and you can tell. There's a decided artificiality to the balances due to some odd mixing and highlighting of certain instruments that do not seem to share the same acoustic space. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this, especially for Bell's clever, artful, and always appropriately stylish playing.

--David Vernier,
Works on This Recording
1. Porgy and Bess: I loves you, Porgy by George Gershwin
Performer: Joshua Bell (Violin), Chris Botti (Trumpet)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1935 ; USA
2. Firste Booke of Songes or Ayres: no 17, Come againe, sweet love doth now envite by John Dowland
Performer: Joshua Bell (Violin), Sting (Voice)
Period: Renaissance
Written: 1597 ; England
3. Enrico IV: Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla
Performer: Joshua Bell (Violin), Carel Kraayenhof (Bandoneón), Carel Kraayenhof (Bandoneon)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1984 ; Argentina
4. Cinema Paradiso by Ennio Morricone
Performer: Josh Groban (Voice), Joshua Bell (Violin)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1988 ; Italy
5. Para Ti by Traditional
Performer: Joshua Bell (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Tiempo Libre
6. Babes in arms: My funny valentine by Richard Rodgers
Performer: Kristin Chenoweth (Voice), Joshua Bell (Violin)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1937 ; USA
7. Maybe So by Edgar Meyer
Performer: Joshua Bell (Violin), Edgar Meyer (Bass)
Period: 21st Century
8. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 45: Allegretto by Edvard Grieg
Performer: Joshua Bell (Violin)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1886-1887 ; Norway
9. Eleanor Rigby by Paul McCartney
Performer: Joshua Bell (Violin), Frankie Moreno (Voice), Frankie Moreno (Voice)
Period: 20th Century
Written: by 1966 ; England
10. Songs (6), Op. 4: no 4, Sing not to me, beautiful maiden by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer: Joshua Bell (Violin), Nathan Gunn (Baritone)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1892 ; Russia
11. Il Postino: Theme by Luis Enriquez Bacalov
Performer: Carel Kraayenhof (Bandoneón)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1994 ; Argentina
12. Left Hand Song by Regina Spektor
Performer: Joshua Bell (Violin), Regina Spektor (Voice)
Period: 21st Century
13. Chovendo na roseira by Antonio Carlos Jobim
Performer: Joshua Bell (Violin), Dave Grusin (Piano), Edgar Meyer (Double Bass), Chris Thile (Mandolin)
Period: 20th Century
14. Look Away by Diane Warren
Performer: Joshua Bell (Violin), Anoushka Shankar (Sitar)
Period: 20th Century
15. Variant Moods by Ravi Shankar
Performer: Joshua Bell (Violin), Anoushka Shankar (Sitar)
16. I'll Take Manhattan by Richard Rodgers
Performer: Joshua Bell (Violin), Marvin Hamlisch (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
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