Bach: Violin Concertos – No 1 in A minor, BWV1041; No 2 in E major, BWV1042; Chaconne (arr Mendelssohn / Milone); Air; Gavotte (arr Schumann / Milone)

Reviewed on Thu 13 Nov, 2014

Interesting that Joshua Bell should present the ‘bread and butter’ of the violinist’s repertoire as the musical equivalent of a ‘best of both’ loaf, in other words with the speed and agility of ‘period performances’ in the dancing outer movements, and a rather more traditional approach to the expressive middle ones, the A minor coming off especially well. The ‘Chaconne’ is presented in a warmly upholstered version where Mendelssohn’s piano accompaniment has been arranged/orchestrated by Julian Milone in collaboration with Bell himself, and very much a soft option to the stark stand-alone masterpiece we love and know so well – though that’s not because of any compromises along the solo line. There aren’t any, but hearing the soloist flying without the dubious benefit of textured support provides an infinitely more powerful experience. There are two extras, the celebrated ‘Air’ and the ‘Gavotte’ from the E major solo Partita, both nicely played.
–Rob Cowan