Thoughts on Joshua Bell Please

May 12, 2005 at 01:36 AM · I want to know your thoughts on the great violinist Joshua Bell. I dont care if you think that he is bad, or the best, i just want to hear yor honest thoughts on him.

Replies (99)

May 11, 2005 at 11:56 PM · Just gimme your honest thoughts

May 12, 2005 at 01:57 AM · I think he's great! Although I would prefer if he sometimes would move a little less :)

May 12, 2005 at 01:59 AM · He's one of my favorite violinists who are still in the early years as a soloist.

I like his expression and his mysterious tone quality. His bowing styles, tone quality, and expression is so unique that I can tell right away it is Joshua Bell when I hear recordings.

May 12, 2005 at 02:30 AM · I enjoy Mr. bell's playing as well. Sometimes he can play a little bit too intensely, but on certain pieces it is very effective.

May 12, 2005 at 03:12 AM · i saw Josh Bell play a little more than a month ago with the Indianapolis symphony and i was impressed. I'd heard bad things about his playing before and seen some videos of him and i was not pleased with his playing. When I saw him play the Ranjbaran concerto wiht Indianapolis he played with such ease. He had a wonderful bow arm with much finesse and he nailed everything. It was clean and musical,.. but yes, he does move a lot!

May 12, 2005 at 03:52 AM · I too really love the sound of Joshua Bell's playing... though I'll admit sometimes he moves a bit much for my liking, but he manages to pull it off. (He is also quite a nice person)

May 12, 2005 at 08:16 AM · I think Joshua Bell is one of the great violinists of our time. I particularly like his CD the romance of the violin, its great to chill out to or have on while im studying.

May 12, 2005 at 08:48 AM ·

May 12, 2005 at 12:59 PM · I saw him do a wonderful Four Seasons on two days notice and jet-lagged where he was filling in for Mutter who did not want to fly right after 9/11.

May 12, 2005 at 01:37 PM · I haven't heard very much of his work, but so far:

I like to listen, I don't like to watch.

May 12, 2005 at 02:12 PM · I agree with D Kurganov on this one...I've seen Bell play three times and I just found his overall technique weak and sloppy, which lead to an overall thin tone and uneven musical message. I do also thinks he moves a lot, sometimes bordering on the excessive. And it seems to me that even if you do close your eyes, it affects his sound tremendously, you can just feel the uneven swinging and swaying. His recordings seem a bit better than he is live I think and I even like some of them for their style, so I can't totally bash him. :) But I think I'll skip seeing him live next time he comes around, and see someone like Hilary Hahn or Gil Shaham imstead. Just my opinion though.


May 12, 2005 at 03:10 PM · I have to admit I'm not a big fan of Joshua Bell. His movement takes away from the music and I find that his sound, if you really listen to it, is a little too shallow which is why I think the vibrato becomes intense. Otherwise, it would simply die away. When he takes away that vibrato, I find it to be a little lifeless. However, I do not disagree that he is quite an accomplished violinist and I could not play any of those pieces as well as he does. His playing just doesn't do it for me.

May 12, 2005 at 03:40 PM · He did record Paganini on his 1st album. I like his playing, but I don't always like his choice of pieces. I don't mind the moving around. I like it better than if a soloist was stiff and lifeless, and way too serious looking.

When he played here a few years ago I went to see him and got to meet him. He played awesomely, and he was also very nice. He didn't seem to have an ego bigger than the concert hall.

May 12, 2005 at 04:07 PM · Yes, he played Paganini's cantabile :)

May 12, 2005 at 08:46 PM · thanks guys 4 ur honest thoughts. he is my fave violinist

May 13, 2005 at 12:49 PM · Great player, amazing tone. Just gyrates way too much for my liking. His Mendelssohn and Beethoven was very nice, minus his new cadenza in Mendelssohn.

May 13, 2005 at 01:55 PM · I've seen him live recently (Mendelssohn)

Why the need for a new cadenza ?

He also moved too much to my opinion.

Hilary Hahn (in Vieuxtemps) I like much more.

May 13, 2005 at 01:59 PM · Why don't you like his Cadenza? Please be specific. It is not really useful to merely say "I don't like it."

Pleaase tell why.


May 13, 2005 at 02:15 PM · I heard something on the radio that seemed to be beautifully played with a gorgeous tone. It turned out to be Bell. His gyrations on the radio didn't bother me much.

May 13, 2005 at 06:00 PM · Bill, when I said I didn't like his cadenza, I meant that I didn't feel that it flowed as well as the original. Bell is still young. He has great ideas, but gve him a couple more years to develop the maturity necessary to implement them beautifully.

May 13, 2005 at 09:02 PM · Bell is an accomplished talent, but when you compare him to the best, I think he's lacking, especially in the tonal department. He has a lean, somewhat one-dimensional sound. I think his technique is fully capable of playing practically anything he chooses. I hate to say this, but I believe if he weren't a good-looking fellow, none of us would even know who he was.

May 13, 2005 at 09:10 PM · See, I think different. I think he's gone a full palette of tone colors. Maybe I should get my hearing checked.

May 13, 2005 at 10:09 PM · I'm usually not a huge fan of Bell, but I have had a chance to hear part of his new tchaikovsky, with the Berlin Phil, and it's it quite good, he drew a very full,rich, earthy sound. Though I think one of the reasons he can sound very wishy-washy, as in his last classical ablum with the Beethoven and Mendelssohn concerti, is that he sounds as though he is confused between rather to play in the more period classical style, or the deep romantic approach, which then makes me confused about his playing. However, one must applaud him for not having to jump into the international violin competition circuit to acquire his fame. (Though I have listened to many of the QE finalists, and they are all already great artists in their own right, and I admire all of them.) And I do aggree that he moves excessively, which I don't know if it helps his playing, or hampers it.

May 13, 2005 at 10:59 PM · If we are on Bell - what do you think about his playing on The Red Violin movie? I think the main theme is just marvelouss, silky to my ears, deep and warm simultanously. Have heard some others recordings of the main theme, but original is the best IMO.

Unfortunately, I haven't heard any Bell recordings to judge his classical talent.


May 13, 2005 at 11:01 PM · I think as a violinist already at that level, he would know if his movements are hampering or helping his sound. I mean, he reached that point obviously fixing a lot of things to improve, so I'm pretty sure he is capable of realizing his own problems. I also think that artists at such level will have their own particular way of expressing and playing music. I think every single artist already at that kind of point should be respected, regardless of the methods they use to acheive it.

May 14, 2005 at 12:28 AM · I agree with Chris. While Joshua Bell may not be my favorite violinist in the world, I respect him quite a bit. We all have our preferences- if we all liked the same violinists then we'd probably all play the same too.

About his Red Violin soundtrack- I think that's some of the best he's ever sounded. Corigliano's music is so beautiful and suits the movie so well- he's such a genius. I think the instensity that Bell brings to it really makes it a great recording- it's definitely high on my list.

May 14, 2005 at 07:04 AM · I heard him play an arrangement of a Chopin waltz quite nicely. I didn't know who it was, but it had class, and I enjoyed it.

I heard him play a brahms Hungarian Dance, and it was totally missing the Hungarian feel. It was clean, but lacking... Hungary?

May 14, 2005 at 07:44 AM ·

May 14, 2005 at 03:31 PM · Only twice have I pulled over to the side of the road and parked so I could listen to the end of a piece to hear who was playing. Both times it was Josh Bell. In person, I find his bobbing and weaving irritating, mainly because with his violin pointing in all different directions it seriously affects the sound--it's like listening while someone is playing around with the left/right balance on a stereo. You'd think someone would have said something to him about that by now, wouldn't you?

May 14, 2005 at 04:38 PM · I was just wondering if anybody has heard his record of Schumann's VC. Is it good? I only ask because I am somewhat obsessed with that piece but few people record it.

I have only heard Joshua Bell's Kreisler album, and although Kreisler's music is not my fave, I remember Bell played it very cleanly and tastefully.

May 15, 2005 at 04:28 AM · josh bell rox my sox. im his wife yo...

May 15, 2005 at 02:53 AM · his recording of the mozart g major concerto is amazing... and i'm a fan of his lalo- not for the technicality (although it is impressive) and not for the style, but for his musicality and to see what he does with the phrasing... he's an amazing player

May 15, 2005 at 03:00 AM · I have his Schumann VC recording. Not one of my favorite pieces but he does it justice. It's a good recording- it also has the Brahms on it. Although I find his sound to be too thin on the Brahms, his interpretation I find very beautiful and honest.

May 15, 2005 at 04:19 AM · I have Bell's Schumann - I reckon Szeryng beats him by a long shot - he really is one of the best for the Schumann - I like his recording more than the Young Menuhins

May 16, 2005 at 10:17 AM · I don't like Bell very much. He has good sound and can play the encores well but his concertos and sonaten are a bit of chao. I don't think he's a top (10) concerto violinist. And his fashion, almost "holywoodish" to me.

May 17, 2005 at 02:37 AM ·

May 17, 2005 at 04:33 AM · Hello,

I very much like Josh Bell's sound. He tone is like his teachers Mr. Gingold who taught a smooth silky type of tone. The power is there when needed but the main thing is the sweetness of the sound. Mr. Gingold played in this same manner as did others from that era.

I think that Josh Bell is here to stay and that he will only mature farther into one of the greats of violin playing.

To each his own but you can definetly pick him out of the crowd. He does not sound like alot of the others that I cant seem to tell apart.

May 18, 2005 at 02:38 PM · I want his violin!!

May 18, 2005 at 03:58 PM · An average player being who--a member of a professional orchestra?

Whether his playing moves you or not, I think you're selling short the man and his accomplishments .

May 18, 2005 at 05:45 PM · Oh come on! "A slightly above average player"?!

I run into people who say this sort of crap about just about every talented musician I have ever heard. Just the other week, I crossed paths with a violinist with a small orchestra in Delaware. I mentioned to him that we were just heading off to the Orchestra to hear Hilary Hahn. He mumbled that she doesn't understand music--she only has natural talent--whatever that is supposed to mean. What a jealous spoil-sport.

I don't mind criticism--but to merely say he is a *pop star* says absolutely nothing--

If you don't like his playing, tell us *why*.

May 18, 2005 at 04:20 PM · >I think that Joshua Bell is a slightly above average player; he has an amazing violin, and you often times have to wonder if his tone is specifically his or the product of his violin.<

To disprove your contention, just listen to me play his violin. I promise you it will sound like, uh, dung.

May 18, 2005 at 04:24 PM · Scott -- well put!

May 18, 2005 at 04:56 PM · I have Josh Bell's Romantic Violin album in the cd player in my car this week. I know from having seen him play on television that he's a major "mover", which can be distracting. And he is definitely marketed like a handsome young male confection. However, he is without question a very talented player. My difficulty with his style is kind of the same thing I remember when I heard my grandmother play the organ -- too much in and out with the pedal! His dynamics are taken to the "nth" degree and swell and diminish so frequently that it gets a bit maudlin. Some of this may be the result of all the movement. I do love his high notes; they can be pristine and lovely. But I'd love to hear a well shaped tone attacked at the beginning of the note and allowed to sing all the way through, rather than the boat rocking effect Bell creates a lot of the time. Does make you head for the Dramamine!

I think these habits form early because a teacher allows them to go unchecked, and it's a disadvantage to the young player, who can end up with unbecoming Liberace-ish affectations that prevent him/her from earning well deserved respect for talent and technique. (Important disclaimer...I'm only commenting on this album and what I remember from past tv appearances. I cannot comment on his classical work. Gotta be fair here.)

May 18, 2005 at 08:15 PM · I think Joshua Bell recieves criticisms like above because he is honestly good looking. Let's say he is maybe average or not good looking at all. I still think his tonal quality is very unique and that he technically has no problems playing the heaviest violin pieces.

If people were buying his albums and concert tickets just because of his good looks, how long do you think that will last? He'd better off be going to Hollywood rite now showing up in films.

When there are so many people willing to buy his CDs and goto his concerts, I think there is a reason to that. Maybe because of his good looks, but if the audience can't stand the sound he makes, who would be listening to him today?

Some of his movements and somewhat exotic(unique) tone quality and expression is what makes him Joshua Bell. His famous teacher, Josef Gingold really wouldn't have let majorly basic problems pass by. I currently learn from a professor who was taught by Josef Gingold and Ivan Galamian and he says that Mr. Gingold taught him wisdom. How to realize and solve problems as well as pacing yourself with the right amount of work, as well as coming up with interpretations that do not interfere the composer's intent.

We really should learn to respect artists the way they are. If YOU don't like it let's keep it to yourself. Because that quality you don't like from a musician might be the factor that make him who he is and attract other ppl who have different preferences than you.

May 18, 2005 at 09:22 PM · Autumn, I am confident that in your entire life you will never come close to approaching Bell's mastery of the violin. I don't like his playing, and his stage presence is not my cup of tea.

However, comparing him to someone who lip syncs, a mediocre talent, less than average intelligence and who cannot even write her own material, makes no sense. Bell is a very articulate young man, has written his own cadenzas, is most certainly not playing with an un-rosined bow on stage, and is not merely the product of marketing. One could find better looking people than Bell I'm sure, and without his sound they wouldn't sell.

If you can play as technically well as he does, with as little practice as he is known to do, then I will eat my words. Then again, I've never heard of you.

May 18, 2005 at 09:25 PM · I will say it again, this is a man who has done a great deal for the violin in today's society. He continues to grow as an artist, to write his own cadenzas, try different kinds of projects, push the envelope a bit. He is an advocate for our art, appearing on everything from Sesame Street to the Grammys. It takes more than excellent playing to put oneself out there as a performer on such a regular basis and in so many different ways. Kudos to Josh!

May 18, 2005 at 09:53 PM · Aggressive debate of this kind is what makes classical music and keeps it from entirely turning into a marketed product. I don't think the arguments even have to be particularly rational in order to do the job.

May 18, 2005 at 10:22 PM · I wonder if Josh ever peeks his head in here to see what the peasants think of him. I suppose he could care less, but it's fun to imagine, him sitting at his computer just like me, idly poking around for entertainment.

May 18, 2005 at 11:02 PM · I will certainly be delving more into Mr. Bell's work, as I haven't sampled enough to have the definitive opinion. I'm reacting to one album only, and much of his playing there is so evocative that it makes my hair stand a GOOD way!

Violin is a lifelong taskmaster (mistress?), and I for one am not inclined to pass judgment on those who do it for a living. My hat's off to Josh et al for their years of diligent labor and love for the art of music.

May 19, 2005 at 05:58 AM · I think the bottom line is: if he sounds good, then he must be good. Music is more for the listening than the visual appreciation.

I have only one CD of Joshua Bell, Romance of the Violin, and I play it every morning, everyday for about three weeks--then I put something else on, before I go back to it again. I never get tired of listening to him.

In one song of Josh Groban, Mi Mancerai (did I spell that right?), Joshua Bell was playing in the background. That piece moves me. Pretty fantastic.

May 19, 2005 at 06:46 AM · Autumn,

You have to kidding yourself to think like you do about Josh Bell. I am not saying that you have to like his playing, that is up to each person. But you at least should listen before making statements like the ones you made. It is obvious to me that you looked but you didnt listen.

He is a good looking guy, but listen to what he plays and the sound he gets. His looks are not what is creating that sound. If he was the most unattractive man on the planet he would still sound the same.

I feel you should get several of his CD's and live with them for a few days. I think you will change your mind about Mr. Bell.

May 19, 2005 at 02:10 PM · I recognized Joshua Bell's name and recognized him as a great violinist (from listening) long before I ever saw a photo of him--or in person.

All this talk about looks---what a bunch of absurdity.

I heard Bell with the Westchester Philharmonic at SUNY Purchase last weekend--not much to "see"--but a lot to hear! Just a stage with an orchestra. Bell wearing nondescript casual clothing in dark colors.

For visual appeal there was nothing---especially after the vocal soloists preceding--singing Tamar Muskal's latest creation. Now they were stunning--Mira Anwar Awad & Keren Hadarone--one in a bright and flowing high-neck gown, the other in a glittery gold decolletage-----that is visual appeal.

Among the string solists there is an understated elegance (e.g. Hahn, Ma) or even a casual ease (e.g. Bell, Perlman).

How on earth can the "looks" or "appearance" be seen as so important--when it is so downplayed?

May 19, 2005 at 03:55 PM · Peter, I would bet all the tulips in Holland that neither will you attain Bell's mastery. So I don't see why everybody is ganging up on Autumn for a fairly innocuous comment. There is no need for petty remarks such as the above. I'll take note to withhold from discussion my personal opinion of Menuhin's playing. I myself can barely play the Spring sonata, but I am still allowed to like and dislike the "great" virtuosi as my musical tastes dictate. That said, I tend to "like" far more than I dislike, because most real musicians are in the business of making beautiful music.

May 19, 2005 at 03:49 PM · I heard him play the Tchaik recently and I was impressed. (And I have heard about 20 different recordings of it, so I definately have some basis for was my first time hearing it live, though.) Then at the end he played Red Violin Chaconne as an encore, and it was just jaw-dropping. It sounded as hard as the fastest parts of the Paganini Caprices (don't know if it is, and the fastest parts may not be the *hardest* parts, of course), and had the same stunning effect on the audience. I only found his stage movement a little bit excessive for such Romantic repetoire, and found his style to be near-perfect fit. He's going to re-record the Tchaik soon, and I'll certainly get the CD on the strength of that concert. I also saw him to Ravel's Tzigane on TV and it rocked. Horses for courses, though...I prefer Hahn for early Romantic and late Classical style - but I'm glad we're starting to have some superstars who really sound distinctly different from each other (again). Bell, Hahn, Chang and Gringolts all have distinct musical personalities and (IMHO) distinct genres of strength. More power to them all IMHO. :-) I think Bell's strength is definately Romantic and modern stuff with a Romantic edge to it.

May 19, 2005 at 11:30 PM · Mark L,

I was merely responding to someone saying that Bell was little more than a manufactured pop star. That implies that they (Bell) are of little skill. Hence my remark about the mastery of the violin.

I encourage you to go back and read, or to hone your reading comprehension skills. I never claimed to be anything spectacular as a violinist. All I was saying is that you have to be one hell of a player to call Bell rubbish, which I was guessing Autumn is not, given how skilled Bell is.

If she said she does not like his playing, I would have agreed. However to say he's worthless is ludicrous.

May 19, 2005 at 11:31 PM ·

May 20, 2005 at 12:11 AM · oh dear oh dear oh dear


May 20, 2005 at 12:47 AM · I think that's BS. Joshua Bell hasn't become famous and well recognized by peddling an "easy listening" sound. Look at his discography; it isn't a bunch of fluff.

The way Autumn wrote, she made it sound as if he wasn't much of a violinist at all. I have no problem if someone does not appreciate what another violinist stands for artisically, but to spit on them in such a manner when a person like Bell has worked that hard and is that technically proficient, I find it very disrespectful.

Therefore, I will ammend my statement. At least give Bell his due credit for the mastery of the instrument which few of us posses, and if you will call him the Britney Spears of the classical world, at least acknowledge his virtuosity.

"Slightly above average player" is quite a critical statement, a far cry from what all of her defenders are calling an artistic opinion.

May 20, 2005 at 02:57 AM ·

May 20, 2005 at 03:09 AM · I, having already responded to this question several times, would like to throw out another question.

There has been a lot of talk of him being a "good" violinist, a "great" violinist, a "master" violinist, etc. etc. etc. They talk about this a little bit in The Art of the Violin, but I would like to get everyone's opinion. What do you think are the qualities of a "great" violinist, one that will go down in history as being truly well-rounded in all styles? Who do you think fits this? Obviously everyone will have their opinions.

I personally believe that the great violinists, the ones that we are held up against, have the unique ability to carry you somewhere. Sometimes it isn't even their technical brilliance or sound. I think to be one of the "masters", if you will, you need it all- especially musicality.

My list is as follows:

Itzhak Perlman

Yehudi Menuhin (perhaps not always the most intune, but sheerly a genius when it came to lifting the music into the artistic, sometimes even mystical, realm)

Nathan Milstein

Henryk Szeryng (his Bach in particular)

David Oistrakh

There are others that I admire equally to these violinists, but for time's sake I shall keep it short.

May 20, 2005 at 03:45 AM · Christina, I totally agree with you on Szeryng (greatest Bach ever), Oistrakh, and Milstein, and I'd probably add Grumiaux to that list and a couple more recent guys like Shaham, Kyung-Wha Chung, Mintz and Gidon Kremer. I also think Hahn has great promise to be among the greatest players on record, as she brings a scholarly sensitivity to everything she plays, kinda like an Alfred brendel of the violin.

But boy, I am no fan of Menuhin. I find he played with a sickly saccharine, but wobbly and unsettling tone. I know this is sacrilege given Menuhin's superlative love for the instrument, but I just don't think he sounded good.

May 20, 2005 at 04:10 AM · Hahn baffled me in A of V. I looked around the web for other reactions and found one reviewer who essentially said she should just keep her mouth shut and play:) The only thing I've heard her play was Lark Ascending on the radio one night, which I thought was dynamite. I wouldn't want to try to rank players. I might talk about favorite performances.

May 20, 2005 at 04:13 AM · I find Gil Shaham's playing very promising. Regardless of the composer or style of music, he consistently brings out the beautiful quality(not always the BEST among others tho) most the time. His interpretations aren't too exaggerated and he still has that deep and rich sound throughtout any kind of piece. Unlike some violinists that i suddenly one day feel "eww, i don't like the way he plays that piece", I think Shaham overall does a great job of making the music acceptable in most matters.

Well, Shaham would be my favorite contemporary young violinist, but Perlman and Oistrakh are some of the names I would like to keep on my CD shelf. :)

May 20, 2005 at 04:34 AM · Hello,

I like Joshua Bell as long as I don't have to look at him while he plays. I've read a couple comments that stated that they would be more impressed with him if he played some Wienieavski or Paganini; he has some recording of Paganini, and I've heard him play Wienieavski's theme and variations in D major and he has played the Polonaise in C since he was a teenager (at least)... so he's definitly good, I just wish he would learn to get rid of that habbit of moving so much... He's been famous for a while so someone has to have personally brought that to his attention by now. Seem's like a nice guy though.

:-) Marco

May 20, 2005 at 07:58 PM · I saw so many comments on this thread and i think Bell is a good player, whether we love him or not, he is for sure in a first-rate league of some 30 violinists today. If not, he had no chance to play anything at Carnegie Hall and Berliner Philharmonic like he has played. I have heard him played the Tchaikovsky concerto at Berliner Philharmonic recently and I think he is good, although he didn't know how to make some boring phases of this not very well constructed concerto sounds better (Tchaikovsky is well-knowed for that problem). His interpretation has something of Holywood-style and could pleases school girls better than, let say, the older people. I don't mean anything about his look and so on. I'm trying to see him objectively.

I recall one violinist who was a pupil of Gingold too, Corey Cerovsek. He was a child prodigy, completed both his PhD in mathematics and music when he was only 18 years old (!!amazing because in the last century there were no more than 10 mathematicians, whose received their PhD. degree at 18 years old). But now many people think he's not a great violinist at all, although there are some people who love him and think that his interpretation are always great.

I think both Bell and Cerovsek aren't good as Gil Shaham. Objectively I haven't heard any bad comments about Shaham, so he must be the real superstar of the young generation.

May 20, 2005 at 10:31 PM · >I have heard him played the Tchaikovsky concerto at Berliner Philharmonic recently and I think he is good, although he didn't know how to make some boring phases of this not very well constructed concerto sounds better (Tchaikovsky is well-knowed for that problem.<


Sorry, but I find NO boring phrases in the Tchaik.

>I think both Bell and Cerovsek aren't good as Gil Shaham. Objectively I haven't heard any bad comments about Shaham, so he must be the real superstar of the young generation.<

I love Shaham, but I thought his interpretation of the Tchaikovsky was bizarre (and strangely slow). There, now you have heard a bad comment about Shaham.

-Scott H.

May 21, 2005 at 05:21 AM · I agree. I find no boring parts in the Tchaikovsky and I also thought Gil's recording was a bit awkward. Seems kinda choppy... I can't really explain it.

May 21, 2005 at 06:51 AM · i'm not really a fan of either of their tchaiks, although i am usually a big supporter of gils.

May 21, 2005 at 02:19 PM · Thank you, Enosh; then I am not crazy after all?

May 21, 2005 at 09:57 PM · Hi,

If some of you don't find anything boring in the Tchaikovski's concerto then I will better say nothing more. I haven't heard Gil's Tchaikovski too.

May 21, 2005 at 10:48 PM · It's a question of taste and experience, not an objective matter, Felix.

May 23, 2005 at 08:10 AM · Shaham's Tchaikovsky concerto is not that slow compared to other famous recordings. Granted he plays it slower than Heifetz and Milstein, but their times are usually faster than most. His first movement at least is faster (18.13) compared to Oistrakh and Ormandy(18.51), Perlman (19.16) and Rabin (19.49). To me the most annoyingly slow recording of the this concerto is Mutter's 1988 recording at the Salzburg Festival with Karajan.

May 23, 2005 at 10:59 AM ·

May 25, 2005 at 07:49 PM · Back to the thread topic, i recently played with Joshua Bell on from the top. we played the Chausson concerto for violin, piano and string quartet, and joshua also played the franck sonata and sarasate's introduction and tarantella. I only have one thing to say, something i perhaps regard the most highly of any virtue a musician can possess, and he lacks it. he has lost his musical integrity. Artists like david oistrakh only improved as they aged, they didn't stop practicing and rest on their laurels, and this is what he has done. The man was at one time an accompished artist, almost a prodigy as a child, but he has degraded, and i believe this is what has contributed to the increasingly heated debate over his playing. A recording stays the same, but talk to most people who have heard him live recently and i doubt they will give you a glowing review. He was unprepared for rehearsal the day before the performance, and while i will give him credit for an amazingly quick fix right beforehand, that sort of attitude is rather reprehensible, and his sarasate was dirty, well underneath the sort of quality one would expect from any other musician with a name as big. the man has abandoned his musical integrity.


May 25, 2005 at 11:12 PM · Scott: It's a question of taste and experience, not an objective matter, Felix.


I meant that objectivity is something like voting- who receives more, will win, of course it's up to the actual period. So I think Shaham bet J. Bell now.

Hi Shawn, very good words! I have heard J.Bell live in Berlin Philharmonic and i was disappointed, like with Midori, Kremer too.

May 25, 2005 at 11:15 PM · I don't know why so many people are so negative and harsh on this thread about Bell. I've never heard him live but have heard some of his recordings and find them pretty good. His Beethoven concerto recording is very in tune and exciting, the Mendelssohn recording is quite different from your average interpretation but quite original. I do prefer listening to him rather than watching him play. Along with being a fine violinist I think he has some original ideas which are hard to come by these days.

May 26, 2005 at 01:05 AM · I saw Joshua Bell live in Jan. and I thought his performance was remarkable. The Mendelssohn violin concerto is one of my favorites and he and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra played it to perfection. I'm looking forward to his return to the Twin Cities.

May 26, 2005 at 09:44 PM · guys, the point i would like to make is that such division and argument over josh's playing is indicative of his quality. the overwhelming number of conflicting reports on his playing- above and beyond mere stylistic disagreements- serve to illustrate inconsistency of artistry.

May 26, 2005 at 11:03 PM · Hi Shawn,

I agree with you however I think it is pointless to argue about artistry since it is really apples and oranges. I don't believe artistry can be taught either artisanship on the other hand can be.

June 4, 2005 at 01:53 AM · Josh is one of my fave violinists! Personally, i dont agree with some of your guys's comments on him, but who cares?! Its your opinion and I respect that. I believe that he plays much more clearly than menuhin or perlman. Plus, could we get back to talking about Josh? You guys are suddenly talking about Gil Shaham, Hilary Hahn, etc, and i wnt to talk about Bell.

June 4, 2005 at 02:20 AM · oh my, comparing bell's sound to menuhin's....thats like comparing my sound to...menuhin

June 4, 2005 at 02:24 AM · what do u mean?

June 10, 2005 at 11:18 PM · Hello, any1 there?

June 11, 2005 at 06:08 AM · “I want to know what you think about Joshua Bell?”

As Laurie puts it:

“… this is a man who has done a great deal for the violin in today's society. He continues to grow as an artist, to write his own cadenzas, try different kinds of projects, push the envelope a bit. He is an advocate for our art, appearing on everything from Sesame Street to the Grammys. It takes more than excellent playing to put oneself out there as a performer on such a regular basis and in so many different ways. Kudos to Josh!”

“His technique seems very sloppy, and tries to compensate with moving a lot.”

“I've seen Bell play three times and I just found his overall technique weak and sloppy, which lead to an overall thin tone and uneven musical message.”

Huuu? Really? You sure?

”I think every single artist already at that kind of point should be respected, regardless of the methods they use to achieve it.”

“We all have our preferences- if we all liked the same violinists then we'd probably all play the same too”.


I want his violin!!

Me tooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whether his playing moves you or not, I think you're selling short the man and his accomplishments .


”Aggressive debate of this kind is what makes classical music and keeps it from entirely turning into a marketed product. I don't think the arguments even have to be particularly rational in order to do the job.”

I agree!

”I wonder if Josh ever peeks his head in here to see what the peasants think of him”.

He used to! Not any more! I wonder why?

Good night! I'm going to sleep, this is boring!


June 11, 2005 at 06:16 AM · Yes I agree Peter, he's an excellent violinist, I didn't know he posted here.

June 11, 2005 at 06:30 AM · I think he was Scott Proman. Not sure exactly.

June 11, 2005 at 06:30 AM · Who me?

June 11, 2005 at 06:36 AM · Bell was one of the first virtuosos that I ever saw play. He played with the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Mendelssohn. It was beautiful, but his movements were unerving. Then again, one listens with your ears. I just find some of his phrasing not to my liking.

I still think that some earlier comments here were uncalled for... calling him a talentless pop artist was just stupid.

June 11, 2005 at 01:53 PM · I've been watching this discussion and almost EVERY single person has described his movements as something negative. If you hate how he moves so much, close your eyes! I personally don't mind it, but for the people that do, no one is forcing you to keep your eyes open a la Clockwork Orange while you watch Josh Bell play.

June 11, 2005 at 03:11 PM · That's why I said that we should listen with our ears. However, if you are a live performance, it is more than just the sound. Otherwise, orchestra members would perform in their pyjamas because I am sure that they would be more comfortable than in their tuxes.

June 11, 2005 at 05:04 PM · While certainly not talentless, he's not the nicest person. Notice the above poster who mentionned he is nice was a woman. He is a bit of a womanizer.

June 11, 2005 at 08:36 PM · he has no class, mediocre technique(horrendous octaves), bad sound, all in all nothing special, and way over-rated. the onlyCD of his I like is his Gershwin porgy and bess

June 11, 2005 at 08:52 PM · Could you elaborate on your opinion that he has bad sound?

June 11, 2005 at 09:35 PM · Henry Bell's intonation in the Beethoven recording is very accurate, I don't know what you are talking about. I'm hearing a lot sour grapes here from some of you and on the Perlman thread, I really don't like it.

June 11, 2005 at 11:36 PM · What's with all this hating? I'm pretty sure Bell could playing most people under the table...

June 12, 2005 at 12:14 AM · This may sound like cheesy liberal talk (of which I am not), but I think it's better to find the good in everyone's violin playing and focus more on that, rather than putting a violinist down for his or her shortcomings.

After being a teacher for a year I've discovered that this is the best view to take.

June 12, 2005 at 02:26 AM · I would agree with Marty if the thread were entitled:

"Post Only Good things About Joshua Bell."

June 12, 2005 at 03:56 AM · Haha, true.

June 12, 2005 at 06:40 AM · ..."no class" "mediocre technique" and "bad sound"...that is the most intelligent critique of a violinist I've ever heard.

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