Joshua Bell Performs Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto
September 26-29 | 2019
Joshua Bell VIOLIN AND DIRECTOR
Symphony No. 25
Adagio for Violin and Orchestra
Symphony No. 4, “Italian”
Joshua Bell solos in and directs Mendelssohn’s beloved violin concerto, once described as “the heart’s jewel” among its German peers. He also directs the composer’s popular “Italian” Symphony, which recalls his love affair with Italy’s sun-drenched landscapes and the joie de vivre of its people. Mozart’s intensely emotional Symphony No. 25, written when he was just 17, marked his transition from prodigy to major composer.
“Mr. Bell puts his gifts for sweet tone and sinuous phrasing, as lavish as anyone’s in the world.”
The New York Times
Enjoy NPR's Tiny Desk Concert with Violinist Joshua Bell
- Star violinist Joshua Bell dazzles at Dallas Symphony concert and doubles as an inspiring conductor
by Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News
Even as hotshot new violinists burst out of conservatories year after year, Joshua Bell at 51 remains at the top of his excellent game.
He's also developed a conducting sideline, and he appeared in both roles — and something in between — in Thursday night's Dallas Symphony Orchestra concert. (Unusually, this program will have only one repetition, on Sunday afternoon; on Saturday night, for the DSO Gala, Bell will be the soloist in a different program.)
Thursday's program linked two short-lived compositional prodigies born half a century apart: Mozart, who died at 35, and Mendelssohn, who breathed his last at 38. In line with orchestral norms before the later 19th century, the DSO appeared on the Meyerson Symphony Center stage in what we'd consider chamber-orchestra dimensions.
The reduced string sections exposed telling wind and brass counterpoints and textures lost in big-orchestra complements. Among the most magical moments were mysterious flute meanderings (exquisitely played by David Buck and Kara Kirkendoll Welch) in the second movement of Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony. For all four works, I wish Bell also had favored the pre-20th-century norm of placing second violins on the right of the stage, opposite the firsts.
Start to finish, these were fresh performances, full of life, rhythmically spirited, boldly and suavely shaped. The Italian Symphony, which Bell literally and most expressively conducted, with neither score nor baton, was the evening's highlight. I don't think I've heard a more refreshing account.