Joshua Bell in Orlando
Believe the hype – Magical music. I want to throw away all of my copies of the overplayed and over recorded Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35. I finally heard it last night. I don’t want to hear it any other way now.
I never want to hear a girl play this piece of music again now that I’ve heard it performed with strength and control only available to a male athlete. Don’t misunderstand me: Bell wasn’t overzealous or macho like most guys play it. The only bravura was Tchaikovsky’s.
I expected from Joshua Bell the same thing I expect from every big artist – perfect intrepretations of the composers’ intentions. but, he gave me the following that I did not expect:
– Athletic presence: he dances while he plays. He needed more stage room than I’ve ever seen to stretch and lean; putting his whole body into his bow; following through like ballet or a tennis swing. Joshua plays for real what an overacting mime would do imitating playing a violin.
– As conductor Christopher Wilkins said to me afterwards, “he became the music” to such an extent that the cadenza became a series of logical sub statements that paced so physically and humanly – and put the perfect curl and eddie on each of them. What was academic for others became music. I believe that is because of Bell’s connection and maintenance of good physical, mental and emotional condition. I am not cloying – look at the recent neuroscience about music and the body.
– I bet he appreciated Maestro Wilkins’ musicianship – he would not need to explain much to such a conductor as ours. Bell connected with Maestro Wilkins and the rest of the orchestra often. I got the feeling he was working with the orchestra- not pushing them. Their tempos were fast and precise.
Orlando certainly loved it. They gave him a standing ovation after the first movement! I was right there with them, cheering. And Bell’s breathtaking encore – a personal rearrangement of Vieuxtemps “Yankee Doodle Variations” – fun, exciting, amazing – over-the-top.
Here’s a great interview of Joshua from Mother Jones. Check it out.
Photo by Brendan McDermid/ Reuters. Stolen from Mother Jones article, linked above.