French Impressions (Franck, Saint-Saëns, Ravel) (2012)
This was certainly true of the two major works at the heart of this concert. Few violinists play Franck's A major violin sonata like Bell, with such radiance in the soft passages and a mercurial sense of rubato. He took the final movement at quite a clip, and Haywood, who is a sensitive partner at the piano (if not all that strikingly individual a player), did a fine job of staying with him. Although Prokofiev's second violin sonata (D major, op. 94bis, originally composed for the flute) was composed in the 1940s, it paired quite naturally with the Franck, especially the way that Bell played it, emphasizing its blithe and limpid qualities, as in the main theme of the first movement. Bell gave the second movement, taken very fast, some folksy rhythmic verve and bluesy touches, and a suave softness in the third, but the fourth movement lacked the fortissimo zing it needed, something like what the stronger arm of a Vadim Repin provides, to give the grotesquerie an uglier edge.
Robert Battey, At Strathmore, Joshua Bell puts on a trademark, moving performance (Washington Post, November 3)
David Patrick Stearns, Orchestra rises to music of the Americas (Philadelphia Inquirer, October 28)
Ivan Hewett, Academy of St Martin in the Fields / Joshua Bell, Cadogan Hall (The Telegraph, October 19)
The next concert presented by WPAS will feature pianist Lukáš Vondráček (December 1, 2 pm), at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater.