Arts & Entertainment, The Muse

Yankee Wields a Violin Bow, Winning Boston Hearts at the BSO 

World famous violinist Joshua Bell performed his final performance on the Boston Symphony Orchestra stage Tuesday night with Brahms’ ‘Violin Concerto in D, Opus 77.’ The symphony brought power and the performances were accented by incredible harpists, clarinetists, flautists, percussionists and of course, violinists.

Ten minutes before the performance, seas of people had already taken their seats to see the outstanding program chosen for the evening. Debussy, Stravinsky and Brahms could have been enough to provide an almost-sold-out show, but the BSO had to shock and awe symphony-goers by adding the featured performer Bell.

Bell, dressed in a black dress shirt and black slacks, casually walked onto the BSO stage to take his soloist position for the final movement of the evening. He discreetly turned from the audience, admiring the orchestra and observing the director’s every move. Suddenly his bow thrust into the air to begin the most theatrical and passionate performance any audience member may ever see by a violinist. He may perform in orchestras and symphonies, but his performance radiated with his inner rock star.

The musician, in his 40s, does not portray any signs of maturing. Bell’s powerful beginning continued through the Brahms movement as he danced with the violin, shifting his weight from right to left.’ After four bows acknowledging the standing ovation from the audience, Bell ended with a unique and fun twist, an encore of his own stylized version of Yankee Doodle Dandy. He began the piece as an unfamiliar classical composition and transitioned into the familiar tune, receiving a hearty laugh from all those who recognized the tune.

Bell seems to have been born with an extra useful appendage ‘-‘- his violin. He grew up on a farm in Bloomington, Indiana, and became serious about playing the violin at the age of 12. Now he is a globetrotter, playing in cities all over the world and in a variety of venues, from symphony stages to bus and train stations. In 2010, Bell has scheduled a recital tour around Europe and the U.S.

Yan Pascal Tortelier, the director of the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, filled in for Sir Andrew Davis who was unable to direct due to family illness. Many audience members described him as the ‘dancing director.’ He directed slightly ahead of the music, preparing each musician for the following movement. Tortelier would also jump and spread his arms so widely one might think he were about to take flight like a bird from Stravinsky’s piece. His movement distracted from the first Debussy movement, which was softer and calmer.

Although invited at such short notice, Tortelier did a phenomenal job at commanding the orchestra throughout the evening, directing the first two pieces, Debussy’s Pr’eacute;lude al’apres-midi d’un faune and Stravinsky’s Ballet Suite from the Firebird, without a director’s stand or the score in front of him.

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