COMPOSERS: Bizet,Debussy,Donizetti,Dvorak,Falla,Faure,Massenet,Mendelssohn,Mozart,Orff,Ponce,R Strauss,Rachmaninov,Schubert,Tchaikovsky
ALBUM TITLE: Voice of the Violin
WORKS: Works by Rachmaninov, Schubert, Massenet, Faure, Dvorak, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Donizetti, Orff, Mendelssohn, Debussy, Ponce, Falla, Bizet, R Strauss
PERFORMER: Joshua Bell (violin); Anna Netrebko (soprano); Orchestra of St Luke’s/Michael Stern
CATALOGUE NO: 82876 87276 2
Joshua Bell’s fizzing account (on his Sony debut disc) of Bernstein’s West Side Story Fantasy is one of the all-time great violin recordings. Ever since, I’d rather hoped he might tackle some of the swashbuckling concerto repertoire – the Conus, Castelnuovo No. 2, Korngold or Khachaturian, for example. So my heart sank a little when I ran my eyes down the list of miniature sweetmeats presented here. Not that Bell’s playing is anything less than ravishing, but in truth there is very little to detain someone of his prodigious talents.
The problem is that while Bell’s exemplary artistry comfortably stands comparison with the finest encorists of the past, the likes of Heifetz, Perlman and Rabin invariably chose to mix-andmatch, interspersing some virtuoso showstoppers with the more reflective numbers.
Bell, however, gets into dreamy mode from the off and emerges from his reverie some 50-odd minutes later without a single staccato stroke having been sounded. What Schubert would have made of an echoing choir of sopranos doubling the violin line in his Ave Maria I shudder to think. Julian Haylock