“A New Golden Age” Joshua Bell Releases Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 7

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Joshua Bell Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 4 & 7

Joshua Bell has release Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 7,his first recording as Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.  The album, on which Bell leads the orchestra from the violin, offers listeners a chance to relive or experience Joshua and ASMF’s recent tour of these works, and sets an exciting tone for the future of this dynamic partnership.  Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 4  & 7 is out now in The US and will be available worldwide in March 2013, on Sony Classical.

Bell and the Academy have shared a rich history, beginning with Bell’s first concerto recording, Bruch and Mendelssohn Concertos, at the age of 21.  In 2004, Bell and the Academy teamed up for Romance of the Violin, which became Billboard’s Classical Album of the Year and remains one of the best-selling classical recordings of recent time.  Their collaboration has resulted in critically acclaimed tours around the world, leading The Australian to extoll, “The dazzling execution and powerful expression are mesmerizing. If classical concerts always reached the exciting energy demonstrated by his [Bell’s] partnership with the ASMF, moguls of the classical industry could stop worrying about how to keep the tradition alive.”

Now, this pairing enters a new era as Bell becomes the first person to be named Music Director of the Academy since it was founded by the great Sir Neville Marriner in 1958.  Of their recent tour, The Times wrote, “they play with a sharp attack, rhythmic punch and a new joy in living…A new golden age might be here,” and Academy member Miranda Playfair wrote in a tour blog for Gramophone that, “the audience reaction has been nothing short of rock concert enthusiasm.”

Explaining the technique of directing a symphony from the violin, Bell says: “If you have the right chemistry and the right language with an orchestra, you can give quite a bit of information to the ensemble from the first violin chair. Of course, there are limitations to the cues you can give when you’re just playing, so there are many times during a performance when I don’t play but rather conduct using my bow as a sort of baton. In these two Beethoven symphonies, much of the music is driven from the first violins, so that my cues as leader of the section can really spur the orchestra. Because of this, the pieces feel like chamber music in that everyone in the orchestra is listening closely, whether it’s to me or to the principal cellist or to another part of the orchestra.”

“Everyone has to play on the edge of their seats,” Bell adds. “The way you approach making music shouldn’t be different whether you’re in a string quartet or a symphony orchestra or the soloist in a concerto. The ideal should be the same: close listening, give and take.”  

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 7 is available on CD and digital download from Sony Classical

To listen to samples from the recording, please visit www.joshuabell.com

Want to know about what it is like to direct from the violin, his career in an alternative life – or what risky pastime was enjoyed by Wieniawski and Paganini?  Watch this entertaining Time Magazine’s 10 Questions with Joshua Bell video

Don't miss Who is Afraid of Beethoven?  A Conversation with Joshua Bell on BigThink  - click here

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