Violinist Joshua Bell is one of the most acclaimed classical musicians of today - renowned for his expressive, elegant, intelligent playing and his deep commitment to bringing the classical tradition to wider audiences. Over the past three decades he has recorded more than 40 albums including most of the great violin repertoire. Now, Sony Classical is excited to announce that Bell has for the first time recorded the masterpieces of J.S. Bach with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. In his third season now as their music director, Bell performs Bach's sublime Violin Concertos No. 1 and No. 2, along with a never-done-before 'violin and orchestra' arrangement of the famous Chaconne from the Partita No. 2 (adapted from Mendelssohn’s piano accompaniment), the Gavotte en Rondeau from Partita No. 3 for solo violin (using Schumann’s accompaniment), and the universally beloved 'Air on the G string'. The new album, Bach,is available September 29.
“Bach is the composer who got me hooked on music in the first place,” says Bell, who's “house was filled with Bach when I was growing up." He also began his music career with Bach. Says Bell, “I made my first appearance as soloist with an orchestra when I was seven years old. The concerto was by Bach, and Bach's music has been central in my life, even though I have until now resisted recording his music. My approach to Bach has been continuously evolving. I grew up deeply influenced by a tradition of Bach playing that has since gone out of fashion with the arrival of the 'original instrument' movement. What fascinates me is how the beauty of Bach can shine through both when performed in a 'romantic' style (if done tastefully of course!) and also when done with a more 'historically informed' approach. In the past two decades I have had the opportunity to collaborate with a number of early music 'specialists' and I believe that the early music movement has revolutionized the way the world listens to Baroque music - in a very good way! While I have incorporated in my musical philosophy much of what I have learned from this movement, I have also tried to retain in my approach to Bach some of the 'modern sensibilities' that are so rooted in the way I was taught to play the violin. The result is, I hope, a melding of the old and the new, which I suppose sums up what it is to be a classical musician in the modern world. In the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, with many of its members having had vast experience playing with original instrument bands, I have found the perfect partner - an orchestra that, in my opinion, wonderfully balances an 'authentic style' with some of the beauties of 'modern tradition.' It is because I my work with the Academy that I finally felt compelled to begin to record the music of Johann Sebastian Bach."
While Bell has said he will still wait many years before recording the 6 solo Sonatas and Partitas, he offers on this album a provocative interpretation of the 'crown jewel' of the second partita - the Chaconne. “There will be those who say that the Chaconne should only be performed in the way it was intended, for solo violin, but I'm a firm believer in celebrating great music in different ways,” says Bell. “With this new arrangement, we have a new way to listen this masterpiece, and with it we also get a glimpse into the mind of another genius - Felix Mendelssohn.” Mendelssohn was instrumental in reviving Bach’s reputation in the 19th century, and his accompaniment first appeared as a piano improvisation in 1852. His friend and peer Robert Schumann heard this, and was inspired to write his own accompaniments to all six of the solo Sonatas and Partitas. The Gavotte from the third Partita is included on the album, using Schumann's piano accompaniment as a basis for the orchestration by Julian Milone.
A number of young musicians from YoungArts, (www.youngarts.org) attended Bell's recording session in London which is featured in HBO's Joshua Bell: YoungArts MasterClass program airing in the U.S. Oct. 14.
Joshua Bell has been an exclusive Sony Classical artist for more than a decade, and with nearly 40 albums to his credit, Bell has captured the public’s attention like no other classical violinist of his time, enchanting audiences worldwide with his breathtaking playing and tone of rare beauty. The New York Times has said: “Mr. Bell stands in no one’s shadow.” Bell has been in the national spotlight since age 14 (when he made his professional debut with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra), and he has been a recording artist since age 18. Acclaimed for the wide range of music he has chosen to record, Bell has covered the great concerto repertoire from Beethoven and Barber to Nicholas Maw, as well as collaborated with a diverse range of artists on 'At Home with Friends' – from Sting and Chris Thile to Kristin Chenoweth and Chris Botti. Bell has ventured into bluegrass-inspired music with Short Trip Home and helped add to the violin repertoire with new arrangements of Porgy and Bess ('Gershwin Fantasy') and Leonard Bernstein ('West Side Story Suite'). His interest in film is notable, recording soundtracks for several films, including the Oscar nominated soundtrack for Ladies in Lavender (Nigel Hess) and most notably, all the violin solos in The Red Violin, helping the film win an Oscar for the Best Original Score (written by John Corigliano). For more information on Joshua Bell, please visit www.joshuabell.com.
Joshua Bell, Bach (Sony Classical)
Joshua Bell, violin and leader
Academy of St Martin in the Fields
Recorded April 28 & 29, 2014 at Air Studios, London, Great Britain
Producer and Engineer: Adam Abeshouse
Violin Concerto No. 1, BWV 1041, in A Minor (J.S. Bach)
1. I. Allegro
2. II. Andante
3. III. Allegro assai
Violin Concerto No. 2, BWV 1042, in E Major (J.S. Bach)
4. I. Allegro
5. II. Adagio
6. III. Allegro assai
7. V. Chaconne from Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004 (J.S. Bach/Mendelssohn, arranged Milone)
8. II. Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068 (J.S. Bach)
9. III. Gavotte en Rondeau from Partita for Violin Solo No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006 (J.S. Bach/Schumann, arranged Milone)
Sept. 6 Albany Symphony Gala, Albany, NY
Sept. 16 & 17 New York Philharmonic Gala, Lincoln Center
Sept. 18 Toronto Symphony Orchestra Gala, Toronto, CA.
Sept. 20 Richmond Symphony, Richmond, VA.
Sept. 21 National Symphony Orchestra, Washington, DC
Sept. 24 -28 Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Santa Ana, CA
Oct. 7 Academy of St Martin in the Fields, London, England
Oct. 8 Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Madrid, Spain
Oct. 12 Academy of St Martin in the fields, Oman
Oct. 24 Santa Rosa Symphony (Recital), Santa Rosa, CA
Oct, 25 Galo Center for the Arts (Recital), Modesto, CA
Oct. 26 Los Angeles Philharmonic, Walt Disney Concert Hall (Recital), Los Angeles, CA
Oct. 28 University of California (Recital), Santa Barbara, CA
Oct. 30 Calgary Philharmonic, Calgary, Canada
Nov. 1 Broward Center (Recital), Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Nov. 5 Society for the Performing Arts (Recital), Houston, TX
Nov. 6 AT&T Performing Arts Center (Recital), Dallas, TX
Nov. 7 Tuesday Musical Association with Akron Symphony, OH
Nov. 12-15 &18 New York Philharmonic Week, Lincoln Center NYC
Nov. 20 Salzburg, Austria (recital)
Nov. 21 Wigmore Hall, London, England (recital)
Nov. 22 Stavanger, Norway (recital)
Nov. 23 Gothenburg, Sweden (recital)
Nov. 25 Alicante, Spain (recital)
Nov. 26 Madrid, Spain (recital)
Dec. 12 St. Petersburg, Russia (recital)
Dec. 14 Moscow, Russia (recital)
Dec. 16 Istanbul, Turkey
Dec. 17 Eindhoven (recital)