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New CD of the Week | Joshua Bell: French Impressions
On sale Tuesday, January 10.
On Joshua Bell’s new album, French Impressions, the Grammy-award-winning violinist is joined by his longtime friend and recital partner, pianist Jeremy Denk, with works by Saint-Saëns, Ravel and Franck.
César Franck’s Violin Sonata is Bell’s homage to his mentor, Josef Gingold, with whom he studied at Indiana University in Bloomington. The sonata honors Bell’s lineage as a violinist going back to Belgian violinist Eugene Ysaÿe for whom Cesar Franck wrote this very piece on the occasion of Ysaÿe’s wedding. Gingold, whom Bell has described as “the most memorable and significant person in my musical life,” was a student of Ysaÿe, and first introduced Bell to the work at age 12 at his studio.
Bell and Denk’s collaboration was a long time in the making. Denk was entering Indiana University as Bell was graduating; both Bell and Denk would hear of each other over the years, until they finally performed together at the Spoleto Festival in 2004. They have performed more than 80 recitals since then, including many performances of the works recorded for this CD.
Joshua Bell says about this music: "Color is a word that we musicians use a lot. And when we use it with people that are not musicians, they kind of say, 'What are you talking about?'. They think it's kind of funny that we use the word color. Yet we use it constantly in rehearsal, talking about the word color. And this music is full of color. The French music in particular is all about the shades of color and the nuance."
Pianist Jeremy Denk says, "One of the great French virtues of writing music is their love of sound for sounds sake. The sensual beauties of certain sounds and certain chords. The same way that French food is so attuned to certain luxuries of taste, you can 'taste' these chords."
Watch a video about the making of "French Impressions" here.
See previous CDs of the Week here.