The’s the ticket
Who: Joshua Bell, violinist, with pianist Sam Haywood
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets: $50-$115 general, $25-$57.50 students; www.mondaviarts.org, 530-754-2787
When violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk performed in Jackson Hall in February 2010, they were touring material that they were planning on taking into the recording studio, and Bell was contemplating a new chapter in his life as a musician.
And when the noted violinist came to Davis again in February 2011 — touring with pianist Sam Haywood — Bell let on that he was contemplating a new chapter in his career. “I”m starting to move toward conducting,” Bell told me in a phone interview. “There are a lot of great symphonic works I’d like to tackle and direct.”
Now, a little less than two years later, Bell is making progress on both fronts. His album with Denk — titled “French Impressions” — was released in January, and it includes the Violin Sonata No. 1 by Camille Saint-Saëns that Bell and Denk performed at Mondavi in 2010.
And over the past year, Bell has assumed his new post as music director/soloist with The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the London-based chamber orchestra that was for many years led by Sir Neville Marriner. (Bell first appeared with them as a violin soloist in 1986).
Reviewing the Academy’s first concert in London under Bell in April, the Guardian’s Guy Dammann wrote “(Bell) is like a boy with a new toy, adjusting himself eagerly to the controls before going at it hammer and tongs.”
But Bell also tours part of each year giving recitals. And he’s back at the Mondavi Center again, for what seems to have become an annual visit, at 8 p.m. Saturday — touring once again with pianist Haywood.
On the program are the famous Violin Sonata by César Franck, written in the late 1880s, and found on the album “French Impressions”; the Rondo for Violin and Piano in B Minor, Op. 70, written 1826 by Franz Schubert, which dovetails nicely with the this year’s survey of major Schubert string quartets by the Alexander String Quartet, over in the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre; and the Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano, in D Major, Op. 94a, by Sergei Prokofiev, a work from the early 1940s that also exists in a flute/piano version.
The Mondavi Center website also hints that there will be “additional works to be announced from the stage.”
Bell intends to pursue a three-way career as conductor, concerto soloist and chamber musician for the foreseeable future. He’s in the midst of an initial three-year contract with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
“And, of course, I love coming as a soloist with an orchestra, and playing a big concerto,” Bell recently told Washington Life for a concert in the nation’s capital. “But for me, playing chamber music is where I get my greatest joy in making music. It is more intimate.
“Since it is just me and a pianist for the whole evening, we can take the audience sort of on a journey through lots of different repertoire and centuries of music. There is a different kind of rapport with the audience. That way, I can talk to them and play. So it is a little different than a guest appearance with an orchestra.”
Tickets for Bell’s recital with Haywood in the Mondavi Center’s Jackson Hall are $50-$115 general, $25-$57.50 students, with limited seating available, available at www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787.
— Reach Jeff Hudson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8055.