Bruch: Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46 – Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26 – Joshua Bell & Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Internationally known violinist Joshua Bell has performed with all the major orchestras and is proficient in the works of Beethoven, Lalo, Tchaikovsky, and Wieniawski. He is known for both his contemporary and classical repertoire. Joshua Bell was born in Indiana in 1967 and acquired an interest in playing the violin at an early age. By the age of 14 he had made his professional debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He studied under violinist Josef Gingold. After his debut performance, his career took off. Although only a child when he first performed, his appearance was that of a serious, aspiring musician. In 1981, he won the Seventeen Magazine/General Motors competition. From there he earned appearances with several orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra. He has performed under such renowned conductors as Charles Dutoit, James Levine, Franz Welser-Most, Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Herbert Blomstedt.
During the ’90s Joshua Bell signed an exclusive contract with Sony Classical. He recorded the works of George Gershwin with composer John Williams. On the album Listen to the Storyteller, he performs a violin solo in a work by Wynton Marsalis. His concert work, Chaconne, was written for him by composer John Corigliano, based on Corigliano’s music for the film The Red Violin. Bell’s musical interests lie both with classical composers and living composers. In 1993, he performed a violin concerto by British composer Nicholas Maw and more recently a work titled Air by American composer Aaron Jay Kernis. Short Trip Home followed in 1999.
Most of Bell’s time is devoted to concerts and recitals. During a season, he performs more than 100 concerts worldwide. He has played with the NHK Symphony in Tokyo, Orchestre National de France, the Danish Radio Orchestra, and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra. Because of his flexibility in playing both classical and contemporary music, Bell has made quite a name for himself as a violinist. For two months in 1997, he performed with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet in a tour beginning at Carnegie Hall. The tour consisted of chamber music and concertos. In his love for chamber music he organized an annual winter music festival in London. Performers have included Yefim Bronfman, Steven Isserlis, and the Orion String Quartet.
One of Bell’s most praised accomplishments is his cadenzas for violin concertos. He has written cadenzas for Brahms, Beethoven, and Mozart. Joshua Bell remains a prolific violinist. He has appeared on television, on soundtracks, in recital, and, as of 2011, as music director of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields orchestra. Bell, with a violin named “Gibson ex Huberman,” has become a household name among classical musicians and devotees. ~ Kim Summers