Joshua Bell, violin = BRUCH: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor; MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto in E Minor; MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216; Adagio in E Major; Rondo in C Major; Violin Concerto No 5 – Neville Marriner & Peter Maag – Decca

by | Jun 30, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Joshua Bell, violin = BRUCH: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor,
Op. 26;
MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64; MOZART: Violin
Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216; Adagio in E Major, K. 261; Rondo in
C Major, K. 373; Violin Concerto No 5 in A Major, K. 219 “Turkish” –
Sir Neville Marriner/Academy of St. Martin in the Fields; Peter
Maag/English Chamber Orchestra (Mozart) – Decca B0004203-02 54:54;
72:10 (Distrib. Universal):
 
Another installment of the major retrospective of the youthful Joshua
Bell’s early Decca inscriptions, here from 1988 (Bruch, Mendelssohn) and
1992 (Mozart), when I purposely avoided buying into yet another hot violin
buck’s playing the standards for the nth time. Now, forced to listen to
review, I am rather persuaded by the direct and sweet approach in Bell’s
playing, the relatively unforced manner in which he urges both Bruch and
Mendelssohn forward without cloying or mannerism. Conductor Marriner takes on
the grand gestures himself, making of Bruch an urgent, monumental affair,
even as Bell strives for intimacy and serenity. Bell’s playing in fast
passagework is clean, middle of the musical marshmallow exact, in the way
of Oistrakh, but without that artist’s idiosyncratic passion; a remark
which reminds me that Sony has never reissued the Oistrakh/Ormandy version
of the Mendelssohn (from ML 5085). Bell’s Mendelssohn cadenza bears
repeated hearing, it’s that studied and introspective.
 
Bell’s virtues as a Mozart player far outweigh my old reservations of more
bravura jeunesse from an already glutted market of Romantic violin
concertos. Working with the eminent Mozart conductor, the Swiss Peter Maag
(1919-2001), Bell brings a sparkle and suave flair for this composer to
the microphone. The playing is entirely unforced and without
eccentricity, the style idiomatic, with the trills and turns on the upper
note. I might venture that Bell is here enjoying the prestige and the
collaborative support American violinist Michael Rabin gleaned in an
earlier generation. At times quite magical in their ensemble, Bell and
Maag have the G Major Concerto gently swaying and frolicking, the A Major
cutting some deft capers in its imitation of janissary , martial figures.
Deft and versatile, the Mozart half of this set makes the whole thing an
investment that repays the audiophile many times.
 
–Gary Lemco
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