Monday, February 25, 2013

In Which Lars and Anders Meet Joshua Bell

Violinist Joshua Bell, photo by Eric Kabik
We drove two and a half hours yesterday to take Lars and Anders to violinist Joshua Bell's afternoon performance at The Peace Center for the Performing Arts in Greenville, South Carolina.  Wow -- what a mesmerizing performance!  No orchestra, just Mr. Bell playing his 300-year-old Gibson ex-Huberman Stradivarius, accompanied by pianist Sam Haywood on a Steinway & Sons concert grand.  All four of us, including Skeptical Lars, were at the edge of our seats with wide eyes and silly grins on our faces throughout the entire performance. 

I didn't find out about this concert until a few weeks ago, so I wasn't able to get the sort of seats I usually snag -- we could see the performers' facial expressions and Anders could see how Mr. Bell was bowing and adjusting pitch mid-song with his fine tuners, but we could not read the sheet music or make out fingering.  Anders' favorite piece was the Sonata for Violin and Piano in E-flat, Op. 18 by Richard Strauss, and Lars's favorite (mine, too) was the Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in D Major, Op. 94bis by Sergei Prokofiev -- until the final encore blew us all away.  You have got to hear Joshua Bell play the Ziguenerweisen Op. 20 "Gypsy Airs," written in 1878 by composer and violin virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate.  I couldn't find it on any of Mr. Bell's official recordings, but I did find this clandestine recording on YouTube:

Couldn't you just listen to that every day for a hundred years and never grow tired of it?

We couldn't believe how quickly the roughly two-hour performance flew by.  Afterwards, Mr. Bell was gracious enough to sign autographs in the lobby (although, unfortunately, no posing for photographs) and Lars and Anders both got to meet him personally -- Lars even shook his hand!  All in all, it was a wonderful afternoon, worth every penny AND well worth the five hour round trip in the car.