Romanticism meets Classicism
That the UMS is presenting American violinist Joshua Bell as the soloist in Beethoven's Violin Concerto in their season's closing concert on Sunday, April 22, is surely no mistake. Known for his lush tone, impeccable technique, and highly expressive interpretations, Bell is a natural for the work's long lyrical lines. And that the orchestra backing him is London's Academy of St. Martin in the Fields likewise makes sense. The Academy has been the very definition of a modern chamber orchestra since its founding by Sir Neville Marriner in 1959, and it's certainly an apt choice for the work's refined elegance.
But Bell isn't just the soloist. He's also leading the Academy in the concerto plus the rest of the all-Beethoven program: the big and brutal Coriolan Overture that opens the show and the Dionysian Seventh Symphony that closes it.
The Academy clearly thinks he can do it: it hired Bell last September to serve as its music director for three seasons, though he's spending just three weeks with them the first year, part of it headlining this American tour.