Joshua Bell’s Mozart
I had to drive to an appointment first thing yesterday morning, and I knew that the drive would likely take 30 minutes, so I turned on my favorite classical music station. And… there was Mozart! The music quickly got my attention for many reasons: First… thank you, Wolfgang, for giving me your wonderful compositions! Here we are, 224 years after your death, and millions of us are still finding the time to spend with your melodies, and they are so meaningful!
And hey… it’s the Mozart Violin Concerto #3 that I am hearing. I struggled with that piece many years ago! I knew how I wanted it to sound, emanating from my violin; but I never was able to achieve what I wanted. If I knew then what I know now about learning tough new skills, I might have gone about my aim very differently…
I loved this violinist’s playing! But I could not place her/him. I was pretty sure it was not Gil Shaham or Victoria Mulova, or Anne-Sophie Mutter. So I was eager and waiting to hear the performer’s name, and it turned out to be Joshua Bell!
When I returned from my appointment, I located the CD that I heard: There are, in fact, two CD’s in this album; and the tracks are as follows:
1. Max Bruch: Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor, Op. 26
2. Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
3. Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K. 216
4. Mozart: Adagio for violin & orchestra in E major, K. 261
5. Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major (“Turkish”) K. 219
6. Mozart: Rondo for violin & orchestra in C major, K. 373
This is an older recording, and my sense is that there are few recordings of the Mozart concertos No. 3 in G major that can compare with these 1992 performances by Joshua Bell and the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Peter Maag.
The playing is direct, tender, and technically excellent as well as being played with lots of “heart”. Bell uses his own cadenzas as has become his trademark and without exception these cadenzas show the amount of insight and careful study behind Bell’s performances.
At one point in the 3rd movement, I heard a few bars of music that was not Mozart! Wow… I thought: Bell is embellishing on Mozart!
While I was amazed at first; then I ‘forgave’ Mr. Bell: Why? Because Mozart himself was a great improviser, and basically that’s what Bell was doing in two or three spots in the final movement of the 3rd concerto.
As an added bonus for this album, Bell and Peter Maag offer the ‘Adagio in E major’, K261 and the ‘Rondo in C major’, K373 and it would be difficult to find finer recordings of these two gems in the current CD library.
Here is a video of Joshua Bell in the Bruch violin concerto:
And here is the third movement, Rondo, from Mozart’s Violin Concerto number 3: