Sunday, December 21, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Joshua Bell, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields return, with Bell as soloist and conductor

JoshuaBellW

Joshua Bell will perform with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields on March 22 at the Mondavi Center. Courtesy photo

By
From page A11 | March 18, 2014 |

That’s the ticket

What: Joshua Bell and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, March 22

Where: Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis

Tickets: $150 general, $62.50 students; www.mondaviarts.org, 530-754-2787

Audiences at the Mondavi Center have seen Joshua Bell in recital several times during the past 11 years. And various iterations of The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields have appeared in Davis as well.

On Saturday, March 22, Bell and the Academy will visit the Mondavi Center together, with Bell appearing with his violin (as soloist in the Brahms Violin Concerto) and as his more recent role as conductor (the Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro” by Mozart, and the Symphony No. 3 by Beethoven).

Bell was named music director of the Academy in 2011, and assumed the post the following year; in 2013, they released an album featuring the Fourth and Seventh Symphonies of Beethoven. Bell also continues to perform on his own during portions of the year as a soloist and chamber musician.

The concept of a soloist/conductor was common in Mozart’s day, but is something of a novelty in our era, though it seems to be coming back into favor. Mondavi audiences have seen at least two examples — Nadja Salerno-Sonnenburg and the New Century Chamber Orchestra, who visited several years ago, and Pinchas Zukerman and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, who visited in January.

When Zukerman performed in a concerto, he stood at center stage, and when he wasn’t playing his violin, he’d turn around and use his bow like an oversized baton. And when Zukerman led the orchestra in works on which he didn’t play his violin, he behaved very much like a conventional conductor.

Salerno-Sonnenburg, on the other hand, likes to lead from the concertmaster’s seat, at the head of the violin section, and sometimes stands when she’s a soloist in a concerto.

So The Enterprise couldn’t resist asking Bell about his approach during a recent phone interview.

“When I do the concerto, I do what Zukerman did — I play the concerto and turn around and conduct with my bow or my hands,” Bell replied. “When I do an overture or a symphony, I do sit in the concertmaster’s chair.

“Ninety percent of the way I prepare the orchestra (as soloist and conductor) is the same as any conductor (would do),” Bell said. “But the orchestra can play without a conductor; just waving the arms does not make the orchestra play. A good conductor knows when to put in the emphasis, and when to let them play and not beat out everything.”

Bell added that serving as both soloist and conductor in the Brahms Violin Concerto is “a lot of work,” because between his duties playing the violin — in a concerto with a highly virtuosic part — and his duties leading the orchestra, Bell will have “not a second of rest, and that’s exhausting. And then to conduct the Beethoven Third Symphony (‘Eroica’) in the concert’s second half … that can be quite tiring, but it’s also very rewarding.”

Bell also said he finds playing the Brahms concerto to be particularly satisfying — “(Brahms) uses the violin in ways that are more violinistic (than most concertos), perhaps because of the help Brahms got from his friend Joachim,” one of the leading violinists of his day. “You can dig into it, it’s less exposed.”

The Enterprise also asked Bell about his take on Beethoven. In January, Mondavi audiences heard Zukerman and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra offer a reading of the Beethoven Fifth that was more polite (and less fate-driven) than most. And Zukerman’s performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto was gently  pastoral.

But in March, pianist Murray Perahia gave a rambunctious, at times feverish, performance of Beethoven’s “Appasionata” Sonata at Mondavi. Yet going back to 2012, Mondavi audiences heard Emmanuel Ax on a fortepiano with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, bringing out a delicacy  and what conductor Nicholas McGegan described as a “candlelit” quality in Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto.

So what sort of ideas would Bell bring to the Beethoven Fifth?

Bell cautioned that the question involved different works, and noted that “Beethoven himself was more than one thing” as a composer. “But with symphonies like the Fifth or the Third, (Beethoven) grabs you, sort of shaking his fist at the heavens, it’s sort of a cliché. You really want to bring out both sides” — alternating moments of contented perspective with others in which the composer’s ambitious energy and sometimes combative manner take the lead, Bell indicated.

The March 22 concert is at 8 p.m. in the Mondavi Center’s Jackson Hall. Tickets are $150 general, $62.50 for UC Davis students, available at www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Brinley Plaque honors environmental stalwart

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    What’s new at UCD? Construction projects abound

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    No-nonsense Musser voted Citizen of the Year

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Sharing a meal, and so much more

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Downtown crash results in DUI arrest

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    March trial date set in Davis molest case

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    North Korea proposes joint probe over Sony hacking

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    AP sources: Cops’ killer angry over Garner death

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Raul Castro: Don’t expect detente to change Cuban system

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Police seek help in finding runaway twin girls

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Supplies collected for victims of abuse

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Donors, volunteers honored on Philanthropy Day

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Enterprise plans Christmas, New Year’s holiday hours

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
     
    Luminaria display planned in West Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Soup’s On will benefit NAMI-Yolo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Surprise honor is really nice, dude

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Konditorei presents free holiday concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    .

    Forum

    It’s not a pretty picture

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B4

     
    Google me this: Should I hit that button?

    By Marion Franck | From Page: B4

     
    E-cigs surpass regular cigarettes among teens

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

    Too late to pick a fight

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    All police need to humanize

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Are we only a fair-weather bike city?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Join us in making our world more just

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

    The electronic equivalent of war

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

     
    The Green House effect: Homes where the elderly thrive

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A11

    .

    Sports

    UCD women look to improve, despite game at No. 7 Stanford

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Second-half run spurs Aggie men to 8-1

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Stenz shines as DHS girls take a tournament title

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie Manzanares not quite finished carrying the rock

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    49ers fall to San Diego in overtime

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    Marrone Bio expands its product reach in Latin America

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Sierra Northern Railway names CEO

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Sink your teeth into Vampire Penguin

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, December 21, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8