The Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall is generally a place where magnificence and magic fuse in musical symmetry. With violin soloist, chamber musician, and Grammy award-winning recording artist Joshua Bell as the centerpiece of a spectacular two-hour concert with conductor Cristian Măcelaru and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the amalgamation of strings, woodwinds, brass and the piercing star violin set a wonderful mood that was as emotionally edacious as it was beautiful. Beginning with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Overture to May Night and gracefully easing into Ralph Vaughan-Williams’s Symphony No. 4 in F Minor was truly entrancing and jarring of deep sentiments. Joshua Bell may not be a household name, but his elegance and superb mastery of staccato and the sweet easing of the bow to eke out those long, high notes at the extreme bottom on the neck is quite extraordinary to witness. By the second set, opening with Camille Saint-Saëns’s Violin Concerto No. 3 in B Minor, Bell performed some of the most stunning and inspiring violin overlays during a symphony I have ever experienced.
For the curious hearted and those that love classical music…
One could easily be dazzled by Bell’s accomplishments, which many of his contemporaries would certainly love to savor, but honestly, accolades aren’t the real measure of this immensely gifted musician. He has been described as “sterling,” “unfailingly exquisite,” and a “violin virtuoso,” and I’d like to add “fervid” to the long, hyperbolic list. It was evident from his first steps onto the stage there would be no shortage of zeal and fire. I was very impressed with his movement, his fingers dancing flawlessly on the fingerboard like a ballet on ice, ebbing and flowing with the motion of the symphony –driving and pulling like a Lamborghini hugging the curve with the Swiss Alps in the rearview mirror. Voltaire once said, “Poetry is the music of the soul, and, above all, of great and feeling souls.” With Joshua Bell, one could twist this quote in the following way, “Music is the poetry of emotions” because he is simply that captivating.
As far as concert halls go, the Meyerhoff is a splendid venue and certainly worthy of hosting the finest musicians in the world. For musicians of Bell’s caliber, acoustics are paramount. I heard the faintest notes which all impacted the recital with delicacy and clarity. The warm tone of Bell’s violin resonated throughout the hall with even the slightest stroke. The flourishing of notes, their sudden thrusts and gentle slides hover with skillful grace. I listened from my seat and walked to the doors to test the prominence and definition of the music, and no matter my position, not a single note was drowned out.
For the curious hearted and those that love classical music, having the opportunity to see and experience a live Joshua Bell performance is surely a spectacle you will not want to miss. He will be performing in Switzerland, Spain, the U.K. and Germany before closing out 2018 in New York City. Joshua Bell has performed with every major orchestra in the world on six continents and is an exclusive Sony Classical artist. Baltimore’s Meyerhoff will surely have more impeccably talented musicians grace its stage. But it would be a sin not to be cognizant of a future Joshua Bell performance.
For more information about Joshua Bell, please visit his website by clicking here. For information on upcoming performances at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, please visit their website by clicking here.