It was again my honor to attend a program at Heinz Hall with conductor Gianandrea Noseda, who just flew in from another concert in New York only minutes before, and Joshua Bell as soloist on violin. First up was the Lalo: Symphonie espagnole for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 21, which Bell said afterwards in a talk he had first learned when he was age 11.
Even now as I write this the full toned voice of Joshua Bell’s violin is still ringing harmoniously in my mind. He has conquered the savage temperament of his instrument and masterfully tamed its pinpoint delicacies with such precision as to elicit chords of such beauty.
Countenance became an expression of a tempestuous glowing fervor deep within the musical composition, which only he, the soloist, could feign to adroitly release before the rapturously assembled audience whose attention could not be broken by nary a cough nor sprinkling of applause between movements. Indeed, each of the patrons around me seemed spellbound by the performance unraveling before us.
Enthusiasm expressed by his mastery of the violin and the score exposed a smile in my heart translated to my lips. Simultaneously the music would affect my introspective mind as I discovered the notes were fixed yet offered more: the rhythm and other aspects of his solo interpretations supplanted subtle expectations and were deliriously absorbed by every ear.
The pure notes reached my soul and produced the most exquisite feeling of joy within me. I felt the greatest eagerness to fully hear more, yet at the same time furiously usurp the clock to slow down time so that I may savor the delicious sounds, to bathe in their silky texture and to break the surface of each luxurious tone like a swimmer emerging from a pool, refreshed.
Liszt’s A Faust Symphony is a joy to experience. The style of Liszt’s composition is instantly recognizable, after all, this is one of my favorite composers.
After intermission, Noseda joyfully reenters the stage and commences with vigor. He’s full of energy and exhibits it by neatly taking control of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and becoming one with the music. I read in the notes that this piece is rarely performed. There are three movements that dramatically portray the three main characters in Goethe’s rendition of the Faust legend — the fallen scholar Faust, his innocent love Gretchen and the demon Mephistopheles. Each has it’s own character and full body, which seem to programmatically follow their intended path. At once in the first movement, I am reminded of another Liszt composition that I really enjoy: “Les Preludes,” only with a slightly darker feel. The second movement is very quiet and very compelling. The final movement brings much intensity and a very dramatic conclusion — dare I say loud?
One final note. As I emerged from Heinz Hall after the post-concert talk I noticed Bell a few steps in front also walking down the street by himself. His anonymity seemed secure with most of the people on the streets, even at this stage of his career. I didn’t see anyone else recognize him. I would think that’s a good thing.