Joshua Bell at the Barbican

Joshua Bell at the Barbican
Joshua Bell and Sam Haywood in recital at the Barbican tonight.
Some extraordinary playing completely lost in the vast hall and so I am much look forward to hearing it again on the BBC Radio 3 tonight at 19.30.
Joshua Bell playing playing the Huberman Strad that I last saw in the hands of Ruggiero Ricci during the many concerts that he gave in my theatre in Rome in his latter years .
I even remember Ruggiero and I being being chased by the police with the strad tucked under his arm as we tried to cross St Peters Square late at night after the concert to get to his Hotel .
It was the famous Strad that had been stolen from the Carnegie Hall green room many years before Ruggiero had it .
I thought on his retirement that he had sold it to Midori as he quipped in his inimitable way ” I hope she does not break it”.
It has obviously passed hands from one great violinist to another.
I remember Joshua Bells first appearances as a teenager in Rome with the European Youth Orchestra .
From the famous Bell family in America this young man has since taken the world by storm Thirty years on he is rightly described in the Barbican programme as legendary and there is no doubt that he is one of the finest violinist of our time .
Strangely there was no real sense of communication in the Beethoven op. 12 n.1 Sonata .
The first movement rather thrown off in an almost Mozartian manner that although early Beethoven this music already had the sturm and drang that were such hallmarks of this revolutionary composer.
Great physical participation from Joshua Bell injected just such energy that was needed into this great classic as in the Brahms D minor Sonata and the FAE sonata movement of Brahms. Some beautiful musicianly playing from Sam Haywood in a real conversation between stylists and above all musicians of great sensibility ,where the technical problems that abound were resolved with quite remarkable beauty of sound and texture.
In fact it was perhaps the lack of the rugged almost animal detachment that was missing on this occasion where the great sweeping lines were lost in such refined detail much of which unfortunately was lost on us present due to the size of this great Orchestral hall,home for many a year to the London Symphony Orchestra
It will be very interesting to see what subtle detail the microphones were able to capture from near.
There was certainly no doubt about the animal insistence of the recurring motif in Ysaye’s Ballade for solo violin.
Given a truly breathtaking account which is not surprising as Joshua Bell had told us in his introduction that his teacher,Josef Gingold, had studied it with Ysaye himself.
The concert concluded with the Vocalise by Rachmaninov in which the beautiful dialogue between piano and violin was followed by a transcendental performance of Sarasate’s great showpiece for violin: Carmen Fantasy op.25.
The great aplomb and physicality of Joshua Bells performance bringing much unexpected applause during the great showmanship endings of the various sections of this pot pourri from Bizet’s magical score .
As promised ,in his introduction, in place of the promised contemporary work by Aaron Jay Kernis we were treated to two encores of violin showpieces .
Chopin’s nocturne op posth received a magical performance from both players and if the Wieniawski Tarantelle did not have quite the impact it would have in a smaller hall it was, as you will hear tonight, quite a tour de force.


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