Review: New York Philharmonic and Joshua Bell in Beethoven, Chen Yi, Stravinsky

Posted on: November 29, 2021

“Thanksgiving is a time to feel gratitude for things we take for granted during the rest of the year. So it’s appropriate that the violinist Joshua Bell is appearing this week with the New York Philharmonic,” writes Zachary Woolfe in Thursday’s (11/25) New York Times. “Bell … one of classical music’s biggest, most salable stars … rarely [veers] these days from the absolute center of the standard repertory…. That playing is almost uncannily lovely.” On Wednesday at Alice Tully Hall, he performed Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. “Jaap van Zweden, the Philharmonic’s music director, was on the podium…. The Philharmonic played with mahogany-rich ardor in the strings in that opening movement, and its winds were graceful in the second. In the third, van Zweden paced a burnished Allegro, more aristocratic than fun or wild. That seemed just fine for Bell, whose playing smiles but never grins, and certainly never loses its cool. The program was an inversion of the usual ordering of a concert’s halves. The Beethoven concerto, at 45 minutes the most substantial work, sat alone before intermission; after the pause came Chen Yi’s brief but meaty and varied ‘Duo Ye’ for chamber orchestra, then Stravinsky’s 25-minute ‘Pulcinella’ Suite.”