French Impressions — Joshua Bell, violin. Sony Classical

by admin on January 10, 2012 · 0 comments

in Classical Recordings

by Anthony Kershaw

This came in the post today. I put it on as accompaniment to the writing of an equipment review. I’d get to the CD review at a later date.

No such luck. The musicality and sheer brilliance that came flooding out of the speakers was immediate in the form of the unknown to me, Camille Saint-Saëns’ Ist Violin Sonata. I stopped writing and sat back. I don’t even like Saint-Saëns!

The violinist in question? The fabulous Joshua Bell. Along with equally amazing Hilary Hahn, these two make the male/female tag team of top American fiddlers. This release will add to the Bell mystique.

Here, you’ll find impeccable musicianship, flawless tuning, ultimate control, and the glorious tones and colour palatte he pulls from his 1713 Gibson ex Huberman Stradivarius. Bell is sensitively and ably accompanied by his friend from his days at Indiana University — the wonderful Jeremy Denk. Great liner notes by Denk, too.

Bell’s performances of the Saint-Saëns and lovely Ravel Sonata are superb, but it’s his magnificent playing of the César Franck Sonata that will have me returning to the CD many times over. Kyung Wha Chung owned this piece for me for many years. Bell surpasses her in just about every area. This Sony Classical release is not to be missed and may well be a candidate for the 2012 edition of Audiophilia Star Recordings of the Year!

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