Joshua Bell Releases His First Recording of the Vivaldi Classic "The Four Seasons" on September 2, 2008!
Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell, who has enchanted audiences for two decades with his breathtaking playing and tone of rare opulence, has recorded Antonio Vivaldi’s concertos The Four Seasons. Widely considered as one of the premiere violinists of his generation, Bell is joined on this studio release by the celebrated musicians of the Academy of St.Martin in the Fields, who toured the work with him prior to the recording sessions.
This recording of The Four Seasons is coupled with another masterpiece of Baroque virtuosity, Giuseppe Tartini’s The Devil’s Trill. The liner notes by Linda Kobler explain the curious genesis of Tartini’s piece and the indisputable place of Vivaldi’s concertos in the history of sonata composition.
Known for his breadth and daring in choice of repertoire and collaborators, Bell is no less innovative in the way he reinvigorates Vivaldi’s perennial favorite. Bell explains his take on Vivaldi’s classic: “You will never hear two versions of The Four Seasons that are alike, which is why I think there is always room for another view of the piece. My version is very personal.” Bell mixes together the influences of the grand Romantic tradition, in which he was schooled by teacher and mentor Josef Gingold, and his experiences with prominent early music practitioners such as conductor Roger Norrington. The results are true to Bell’s buoyant and emotionally attuned musical personality. Bell comments: “One could go overboard and make everything too pretty, and it’s nice to have the gutsier side of Baroque music. The [players] I admire in Baroque music really dig into it, and the violinists play with great abandon. I think with The Four Seasons you can’t be too deferential.”
Bell’s interpretation on this recording is enriched by his seasoned partnership with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. The quality of their chamber-music playing — intimate, expressive, unified — made the decision to play without a conductor a natural, stylistically appropriate choice, as Bell explains:
“Certainly in the Baroque time it would have been unheard of to have a middle man conducting while the violinist was playing the music. When you don’t have a conductor you also have a different feeling with the orchestra because they feel much more empowered. This particular recording we did at the culmination of a big tour where we played The Four Seasons night after night, and from night to night we changed things, experimented with things and everyone had suggestions. It was very much a team feeling.”
As an exclusive Sony Classical artist, Joshua Bell has released a series of albums to critical and popular acclaim, including The Red Violin Concerto, Voice of the Violin, West Side Story Suite, Nicholas Maw’s Concerto for Violin, and Romance of the Violin, which remained on the Billboard charts for two years and was named Billboard’s 2004 “Classical Album of the Year.” Recent honors include the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize and his appointment to the Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music faculty as a senior lecturer.