NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra / Joshua Bell / Ryan Bancroft

Vieuxtemps: Violin Concerto No. 5 / Chausson: Poème / Zemlinsky: The Mermaid

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Joshua Bell
Joshua Bell © Shervin Lainez

In the depths of the sea

»When it comes to Vieuxtemps, Paganini comes to mind.« Even an aficionado like Robert Schumann recognised the genius, comparing Henri Vieuxtempsʼs playing to that of the legendary violinist. The concertos that the Belgian wrote for himself and his instrument continue to bear witness to Vieuxtempsʼs mastery. The Violin Concerto No. 5 in A minor, in particular, is captivating in its elegance and supreme virtuosity. It is no wonder, then, that the star violinist Joshua Bell is keen to showcase his own skills with this concerto!

A student of the same Henri Vieuxtemps commissioned a violin concerto from the Frenchman Ernest Chausson (after he himself had long since become a maestro in his field). But instead of a standard concerto, the composer had a freer approach in mind. Chausson wrote a poetic, floating orchestral work that is generous in giving the violin room to develop on its own – and proceeded to call it a »poem«. This Poème, Op. 25, by Ernest Chausson is performed by Joshua Bell as the second item on the evening’s programme.

Joshua Bell is joined by another rising star: the American Ryan Bancroft first made a name for himself in 2018 when he won the prestigious Nicolai Malko Competition for Young Conductors in Copenhagen. Since 2021 he has been principal conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and is already the designated music director of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.

The finale of this concert evening is entirely in Ryan Bancroft’s hands, as he conducts Alexander Zemlinsky’s symphonic poem »The Mermaid«. Based on Andersen’s fairytale »The Little Mermaid«, it is thought that Zemlinsky used this work to deal with his unrequited love for Alma Mahler, that femme fatale par excellence in turn-of-the-century Vienna. With an impressionistic array of colours, Zemlinsky reflected his emotions in the depths of the sea.


NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester

Joshua Bell violin

conductor Ryan Bancroft


Henry Vieuxtemps
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 5 in A minor, Op. 37

Ernest Chausson
Poème for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 25

Alexander von Zemlinsky
The Mermaid / Fantasy for Orchestra

Pre-Concert Talk

(in German)

19:00 / Elbphilharmonie, Großer Saal


NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra Subscription E


Joshua Bell

Promoter: NDR

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