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Corigliano: The Red Violin Concerto, Violin Sonata

4.1 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product Description

Bell began taking violin lessons at the age of four after his mother discovered her son had taken rubber bands from around the house and stretched them across the handles of his dresser drawer to pluck out music he had heard her play on the piano. His parents got him a scaled-to-size violin for their then five-year-old son and started giving him lessons. A bright student, Bell took to the instrument but lived an otherwise normal midwest Indiana life playing video games and excelling at sports, namely tennis and bowling, even placing in a national tennis tournament at the age of ten. Bell studied as a boy first under Mimi Zweig, then switched to Josef Gingold after assurances from Bell's parents that they were not interested in pushing their son in the study of the violin but simply wanted him to have the best teacher for their son's abilities. Satisfied that the boy was living a normal life, Gingold took Bell on as his student and to this day, Bell speaks of Gingold fondly as a great teacher and mentor. At the age of fourteen, Bell appeared as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti. He studied the violin at the Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, while managing to graduate from Bloomington High School North in 1984, a year ahead of schedule.

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This four-movement concerto is a terrific piece of music and a great showpiece, as well. Part of it originally appeared in a film of the same name, but make no mistake--this is no "pop" violin, concert-like exercise; this is a work that should become a repertory staple. After an opening chaconne (recorded elsewhere as a solo piece), the hushed, fascinating sound world of the scherzo is riveting, and the lush "andante flautando" bathes us in the Romantic sensibility. But it's the startling and glittering "accelerando finale," with its manic forward propulsion, that suddenly makes the listener realize that we are in the presence of a masterwork. Violinist Joshua Bell again proves himself an absolute master, capable of both the most sensitive, sensual phrasing and stunning pyrotechnics, and he is just as impressive in the composer's "Violin Sonata," a somewhat more severe work. Marin Alsop leads the terrific Baltimore Symphony with superb precision. Highly recommended. --Robert Levine
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Product Details

  • Performer: Joshua Bell, Jeremy Denk
  • Orchestra: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Marin Alsop
  • Composer: John Corigliano
  • Audio CD (September 4, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • ASIN: B000SNUMEI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,930 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By RBSProds TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 4, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Five SPECTACULAR Stars!! A marvelous, dramatic live premier performance by the violinist and orchestra and a mesmerizingly adventurous performance by the violinist & pianist duo!! The last time they met, Grammy-award winning violin virtuoso Joshua Bell joined forces with the brilliant classical composer John Corigliano on the soundtrack to the François Gira film "The Red Violin" and it won an Academy Award. That 20 track soundtrack has been re-imagined by Mr Corigliano into a wonderful, somewhat avant garde, four movement composition called "The Red Violin Concerto" which is performed here brilliantly by Mr Bell, conductor Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The piece is dedicated to Mr Corigliano's father. In addition, there is the heartfelt five movement "Sonata for Violin and Piano" performed by Mr Bell and the amazing pianism of Jeremy Denk.

The 'Pieces De Resistance', the best of the best, begin with the Red Violin Concerto's 'knock-out' of a 16 minute multi-layered, multi-tempo "Chaconne" movement that runs the gamut of emotions from ethereal to intense, from arco to pizzacato, beautifully played by Joshua Bell and supported by Ms Alsop and the orchestra. A 'Tour de Force' in one movement! That's followed by 'castanet'-like accents, skittering notes, and a marvelous dissonant waltz in the second "Pianissimo Scherzo" movement with Mr Bell playing like a dervish, displaying a wonderful tone. And lastly, the thrilling 'train ride' of the final "Accelerando" movement with Bell playing hard, fast, and heartfelt amid orchestral cacophony full of surprises.
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Forty years passed between the composition of Corigliano's "Sonata for violin and Piano" (1963) and the Red Violin Concerto premiere in 2003. The two works are very different in scope and scale, but to my ears they have a lot in common. I don't guarantee that I could recognize a previously unheard piece of music instantly as Corigliano's, but I'd be willing to try. In his notes for this CD, Corigliano says: the sonata is "for the most part a tonal work, although it incorporates non-tonal and poly-tonal sections within it, as well as other 20th-century harmonic, rhythmic and construction techniques. The listener will recognize the work as the product of an American writer, although this is more the result of an American writing music than writing 'American' muisc -- a second-nature unconscious action on the composer's part." Gosh and golly, John, I think you may be optimistic about most listeners, but I hear what you mean. The great Czech composer Leos Janacek described his own efforts to shape his music, even instrumental, to the sound of the Czech language; most serious performers and listeners have agreed that he succeeded. This sonata by the young Corigliano sounds a lot like similar works by Janacek, except that the melodic language IS different and DOES sound like Americam English in some subjective manner that I can't quite define. I hear a slangy, sarcastic, but tender American voice in the phrases of the violin. I like this piece of music, and I appreciate the pairing of youthful and mature compositions on this CD.

Joshua Bell is a thrilling performer. I can't compare his playing of these two compositions to anyone else's, since I haven't heard any other, but Bell clearly has the bowing technique to meet any eccentic demands of the music.
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By Poliosophy on September 14, 2007
Format: Audio CD
A brilliant effort by soloist and composer. Although Corigliano does not chart any new theoretical territory, his melodies are exquisite, his orchestration is right on, and the structure is expertly crafted. Corigliano shows true mastery of the modern concerto form. Joshua Bell's performance is first-rate, the depth of his interpretation shows great maturity, and his execution is flawless. Bell's technical virtuosity will make you forget that this is a live recording. I whole-heartedly recommend this to all music lovers.
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When the film "The Red Violin" came out in theaters, I was enthralled by both its visual and audial aspects. I saw the film twice in theaters, and later purchased both the DVD and the CD soundtrack. Corrigliano's score for the film was breathtaking as were Joshua Bell's solo violin parts. I thought at the time that this music deserved much greater attention as a standalone work. I am ecstatic that the composer was of the same mind, took the best parts of the film soundtrack, expanded upon some of the themes, and produced a very substantial opus. The performance by the Baltimore Symphony is a triumph of both the orchestra and the ever amazing Joshua Bell.
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Red Violin Concerto

Five stars here! Ever since the Red Violin Concerto by John Corigliano made its world premiere in 2003 I've been impatiently waiting for Joshua Bell to record it. I must say, I have not been disappointed with this recording! The concerto was recorded live, and Josh, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and conductor Marin Alsop were all vibrantly dynamic in as fine a performance of contemporary music as I've heard.

The concerto develops the themes of the Oscar winning Red Violin movie score. The first movement, Chaconne, was previously recorded with the sound-track of the Red Violin movie, though this recording seems more vibrant. The second, third and fourth movements include beautiful and highly unusual effects, with the fourth movement featuring races that bring the concerto to a climax with the soloist and orchestra each accelerating at different times and speeds.

The conductor, Marin Alsop, conducted the Colorado Symphony Orchestra for twelve years, giving me previous exposure to her depth, skill and insight particularly into contemporary music. The combination of Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with Joshua Bell in this recording is positively stellar.

Also on this CD is Corigliano's Sonata for Violin and Piano played by Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk. Although violin-piano pieces usually seem to use the piano as support and accompaniment for the violin, in this sonata violin and piano have distinct parts in the manner of co-partners. I especially love the fourth movement, Allegro, as it seems very beautiful and cheerful.
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