Nobel Prize Concert: Joshua Bell [Blu-ray]
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The Strad that Bell uses had belonged to Huberman, one of the major violinists of the early twentieth century. I have this piece played by Huberman on a Naxos historical CD, and he reflected the style of that period, which was to use lots of portamento (string slides instead of discreet notes). I am happy to report that Bell does this also, which really adds to the flavor of the concerto. The cadenza is brilliantly done, and the slow movement is nice and "schmaltzy", as it should be.
The Swedish orchestra easily keeps up with Bell, aided by great direction from Sakari Oramo, a conductor with whom I'm not familiar, but can't wait to hear more of. Oramo works wonders with the other two works on this disc, a thrilling Leonore Overture #3, and a simply superb Sibelius #5 Symphony. This piece should make your hair stand on end (if you have any!)and this performance surely does. The only other 5th. by itself is the awful Salonen/Verbier disc. There is a great Bernstein set with the Vienna Phil. that's worth having, but the sound and picture are dated.
This is one of the few concert discs released where all the works are worth hearing, and all performances are excellent.
Interviews with Bell and Oramo are interesting. I didn't listen to the one given by the Nobel recipient, Llosa, yet.
I must say that the company ACCENTUS seems to be doing a consistently better job than discs put out on the Euroarts label, in content, sound and video.
I have to admit that I was completely bowled over! The Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo elicits wonderful performances from the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, and violinist Joshua Bell gives an excellent performance of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. The live performance, in Stockholm's Konserthus (concert hall), is a joy to watch, and Joshua Bell was given a (mostly) standing ovation for his performance of the Tchaikovsky. The sound quality is excellent. The program notes (in English, French, and German) give very little information on the three works, but instead focus on the struggles and triumphs of the three composers against various forms of opposition and hostility that they, or their subject matter (Leonora and her politically imprisioned husband Florestan in the case of the "Leonora" Overture) had to face. Thus, these three works are tied to the concept behind the Nobel Prize, which is awarded only to those who have stood up for their beliefs in the face of political power.
Most people are attracted to Joshua Bell's name on this disc. He does not disappoint either, but I beg to differ from many here who have stated it as a benchmark recording of Tchaikovsky. I agree that it is different, very passionate and almost lyrical in places, but this is anything but a Russian work in his approach. Maybe he wishes to take Tchaikovsky out of his stamped Russian character. The effect is good, but not great. I would any day think that the good old poker faced Oistrakh does a much better job of this, not to mention Heifetz or even Vengarov. Interesting indeed, but rather far fetched if one were to deem it as THE Tchaikovsky to devour.
The Beethoven Leonore No.3 was good, but a bit sterile by standards set by Karajan and the brat-pack of his generation.
Sibelius is the one to really applaud here. I am absolutely certain that it would have been even more spectacular in the concert hall. I have a decent sound system,and the recording appeared to be a little muddy in the louder passages, especially the end of the 1st movement, and the rather brilliant passages of the strings (although you can see the whole string section scratching away furiously) were effectively either drowned by especially the brass and percussion, or appeared a little 'tired' in the recording.
I would definitely recommend this blu ray, but I have a feeling that one may be more enchanted by the clarity of the recording, Oramu's style and the glitter rather than the interpretation of the music itself.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Tchaikovsky Concerto is perfect. Performance, sound quality and video are perfect.Published 6 months ago by Kenneth J. Hakken
Great video. Won't play after 1 view, on identical equipment. Manufacturer unhelpful. Dont want to spend ANOTHER $25 to get what I bought the first time. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Aussi4ever
Bought it for my husband and he is not thrilled with it. He wanted a CD of all Joshua Bell. This was mainly orchestra.Published 15 months ago by Shirley Bancroft
This is an excellent concert . . . the pieces and the performances. 5.1 DTS Master audio is such great listening. Read morePublished on April 19, 2014 by Fletch from the West
This is a way to have Joshua Bell perform this amazing violin concerto every time you want to see it. Read morePublished on November 17, 2013 by Susan K. Hedges
Joshua Bell was excellent on the violin with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. The Beethoven Leonore Overture was good but the only Sibelius composition I know is Finlandia.Published on May 11, 2013 by Zarathustra
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