Monday, February 11, 2008

The Joshua Bell Experience: Footnotes

So here are a few things I forgot to mention about the Joshua Bell recital of awesome yesterday.
For one thing, Kelly, Stephanie, Joanna, and I were in the second row. The second freaking row. About twenty feet from the man himself. We could see the sweat and hear him breathe. From our angle, we could mostly see the side and back of him (not exactly a bad view, mind you), but we could also see his music. As soon has he pulled out the last movement of the Saint-Saens piece, I knew it was going to be wild; there were so many notes it looked like one big blurr.

Also, while we were getting Jeremy Denk's autograph, the manager of the MAC (dont' remember his name) inquired him about the reception at Mimi's (that would be Mimi Zweig, current IU faculty member, and Bell's first teacher). Denk said that he didn't have a ride, to which the manager said he could drive him there, and added, "I think Josh's mom is taking some people there." And yes, that would be Bell's mom he's talking about, for she still lives in Bloomington, to my knowledge.

Here are some photos of my autographs:

The Recital Program; this one isn't autographed, but I thought I'd include a photo

Jeremy Denk's autograph on my Red Violin Concerto CD

Joshua Bell's autophrah on the same CD. It is harder to see in a photograph.

Joshua Bell's autograph on my The Romantic Violin CD.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Joshua Bell Experience

So, the day finally came, after much anticipation...the Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk recital. The tickets sold out in a matter of hours, suprising no one. Not to mention is was a free concert, when tickets to see him other places go for hundreds of dollars. So...this was something to be excited for.

I'm not going to lie, I was way more than excited...or ecstatic...or overjoyed. He's a great violinist (obviously), but he's also an Indiana native (from B-town) and an IU School of Music graduate. So, he's won a place in the hearts of many Hoosiers just because of that.

But on to the actual program!

The first selection was Tartini's Sonata in G Minor, the "Devil's Trill" sonata. After hearing the piece, the title is obvious; there's more trills in it than I think I've heard in a piece. The next selection was Prokofiev's Sonata in F Minor, a beautiful and still piece. One of the reasons I love Russian music is because it has so much passion and soul in it, and Bell is especially good at bringing out those qualities in whatever he plays. But a few bars into the second movement (Allegro brusco), he turned around to the people who were seated on stage and said, "Excuse me, but what is that noise? Is somebody unwrapping something?" Indeed, a noise could be heard. He continued, "This movement needs special atmosphere. Please excuse me." I know in writing it sounds very jerk-ish, but believe me, as a wittness, it wasn't. He began again and played through the movement. And indeed, you really do need a totally still atmophere for it, and I think his concentration had been broken, which could have ruined the piece. He played it beautifully.

The first piece after intermission was Dvorak's Four Romantic Pieces, which were all short, sweet and pretty tunes with, in great Bell tradition, a lot of passion. Its obvious why they're called "Romantic" (do I even need to explain?) In everything he played, you could hear him breathe between the phrases. The last piece was Saint-Saens's Sonata in D Minor. Of course the whole thing was beautiful, but the last movement was the most impressive. Let's just say he played so fast you couldn't even count the notes. Your pulse literally sped up to the tempo of the music. When he finished, everyone in the MAC got to their feet within 3 seconds.

He played 2 encores; the first, his own transcription of Faure's vocal song "Apres un reve" (After a dream). The second, the march from the opera The Love for Three Oranges, a very trippy opera. But it was thrilling, absolutely and totally thrilling.

Right after the performance, Kelly, Stephanie, and I went downstairs to the Green room of the MAC to get some autographs (Stephanie and I knew the back way). The only thing was that we weren't sure if we were allowed to be back there. We saw Jeremy Denk wander back from the stage area and got his autograph; he's a very nice guy. =) The page turner walked by and knocked on the door of the conductor's dressing room, and from within we heard Bell say "I'll be out in just a minute." Mental freak out begins. We wait there as a line forms, with us at the beginning (yes we're that awesome), and a few minutes later, Bell came out of the room, Stradivarius with him (in the case of course). Stephanie was the first of us brave ones to ask for an autograph, and then it was my turn...freak out continues. So I ask him to please sign both (yes I brought two) CDs and if I might have a photo...more freaking out. Apparently, my hands were shaking as I turned on the camera...but I got the photo. Right after Kelly took the photo, Bell patted my back between the shoulder blades and smiled at me. Freak out concludes.

Baisically, I've been giddy ever since.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Counting down...

Approximately 53 hours until Joshua Bell!