Joshua Bell

Alan Gilbert / Joshua Bell / NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester

Star violinist Joshua Bell and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra play Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy and Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4. Available until 21 November 2021.

Stream available until 21 November 2021.

As one of American’s best-known musicians, Joshua Bell has appeared at all the world’s top concert venues since his debut in Carnegie Hall at the age of 14 – and he has played in underground stations as well: In 2008 the Grammy prizewinner made headlines with an experiment where he played unrecognised as a busker and made 30 dollars in 40 minutes. In the run-up to their European tour, Bell returns without a disguise to the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra to play Max Bruch’s »Scottish Fantasy«, a repertoire gem that is undeservedly little known.

Joshua Bell Joshua Bell © Richard Ashcroft
Alan Gilbert Alan Gilbert © Peter Hundert
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester © Nikolaj Lund / NDR

Performers

NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester
Joshua Bell violin
conductor Alan Gilbert

Programme

Max Bruch (1838–1920)
Scottish Fantasy in E-flat major for violin and orchestra, Op. 46

Anton Bruckner (1824–1896)
Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major »Romantic«

About the programme

Ruined castles…

Bruch gathered inspiration for his concerto-like, four-movement composition by reading the works of Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott (»Ivanhoe«, »Rob Boy«), and endowed his music with plenty of local colour: the Fantasy’s memorable tunes are derived from folk songs from the land of bagpipes and kilts, while the harp reminds one of the songs of the Nordic bards.

According to the composer, the introduction is intended to conjure up memories of »wonderful ancient times« when »gazing at a ruined castle«.

… and hunting-horn atmosphere

With this array of truly Romantic ideas, Bruch is very much on the same wavelength as his slightly older colleague Bruckner. »As the towerkeeper sounds the horn for the German Reich at the break of day«, so the composer wanted the horn to open his Fourth Symphony. Bruckner allegedly intended the second movement to represent an amorous serenade, while the third movement carries us off to the midst of a romantic forest where a hunting party can be heard approaching – thus notes later made by the composer, at any rate.

Such programmatic aspects to one side, Bruckner’s Fourth is like his other symphonies: a colossal musical edifice full of delightful corners, spires and awesome vaults.

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