Josh Bell at Wigmore Hall 15/4/04

April 16, 2004 at 05:52 PM · Programme: the Schubert Sonatina in G minor, the Grieg Sonata, Ravel Sonata, Tchaik. Serenade Melancholique and Sarasate Introduction and Tarantella.

Josh was fantastic last night - the best I've ever heard him play. Amazingly, I didn’t know a single one of these pieces. I'll try to keep this short. The Schubert was very delicately played but not a piece I found particularly exciting. The Grieg in contrast was amazing - the sound Josh was producing from the Gibson was almost deafening - I was 3 rows from the front and he tore into it as if he were a man possessed. Talk about passion - wow. At first hearing I found this a curiously formless piece, full of high emotional drama but I wasn't sure where it was all heading. Josh certainly seemed to know though and the finale was tremendously exciting.

The Ravel was a complete revelation - Josh and Simon had it off to a tee - it must be tremendously difficult as it clearly isn't a violin and piano sonata as much as a violin against piano sonata - and all those extraordinary rhythms - anyway they were just amazing - not one note out of place the whole way through and such rapport between them. Again the noise Josh was making in the great pizzicato passages was incredible, but in the lyrical parts he almost shrank into Simon and they passed each other the limelight backwards and forwards in prefect understanding.

The Tchaik. was dreamy and beautifully characterised; as for the Sarasate, well he just pulled out all the stops - it is hair-raisingly

difficult and he sailed through it, left&right hand simultaneous pizzicato, harmonics all over the fingerboard - you name it, he did it without a single slip even of intonation. The Wigmore just erupted at the end - there are fewer more knowledgeable audiences and it was a riot - at least 7 curtain calls. They did Gluck Melodie as an encore - the only piece he played I knew! Fortunately I am going to hear it all again in Hamburg on Sunday so this time when I know what to expect I can enjoy it more. Simon Mulligan is just an amazing pianist too. Their rapport is astonishing.

At the risk of reopening the old chestnut, I just wish anyone who questions Josh's technique had been at this concert. I did set myself to do some serious observation to see if I could spot any weaknesses and every now and again maybe I could detect that his right arm is not quite as precise as it might be - but this is real nit-picking. On the night, and it was his night, this was just awesome playing.

Replies (1)

April 16, 2004 at 06:02 PM · I don't care what anybody says but i love him to bits!! Ok...so he's goodlooking but besides all that, he's an amazing performer! So musical! So creative! I do find however that i've heard some recordings of other artists that were alot better than what i've heard sometimes. But watching joshua bell live is the best!! He's so accurate! Amazing. Not like philippe excuse the obsession!

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