This afternoon we went in to Symphony Hall to see Joshua Bell and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto. It was a pretty amazing performance. The violin concerto is one of those desert island pieces for me, but I’d really only heard it performed by the big orchestras like the Berlin with the whole “wall of sound” treatment. It was kind of a revelation to hear what the ASMF could do with it. The communication between the different players was so clear. In particular, there is some wonderful interplay between the bassoon and violins that I’d never really noticed before. And of course, Joshua Bell gets such a sweet sound from his instrument in the solos. The larghetto in particular just blew me away.
Before the violin concerto, they performed the Coriolanus overture. Afterwards they performed the 7th Symphony. Both of these were great pieces for showing off the crisp, fresh fireworks that the ASMF does best. The 7th in particular seemed very appropriate for this weekend. With the drums, cannons, horses, and other martial themes, it seemed like being right back at the battles which are being staged in Lexington and Concord this weekend. All they needed was some big white clouds of gunpowder smoke to complete the scene.
After the concert, I was thinking that Bell is probably really enjoying playing with the ASMF. He looked like he was having a lot of fun during the 7th, and during his years on the road as a big name soloist, he has probably been limited to a repertoire of warhorses like the violin concerto.