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Friday, Jan. 27, 2012

Joshua Bell & Jeremy Denk

French Impressions (Sony Classical)

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One of Joshua Bell's mentors, his violin instructor at the Indiana University, was once the pupil of the musician for whom French Impressionist composer Cesar Franck wrote his Violin Concerto in A Major (1886). Perhaps the sense of lineage as much as the enduring popularity of that music encouraged the Grammy-winning Bell and his longtime accompanist, pianist Jeremy Denk, to record French Impressions. The Franck piece is on the record, along with Camille Saint-Saens Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano in D Minor (1885) and one work from the far end of Impressionism, Maurice Ravel's Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Major (1927). The markers for this music are rippling textures, quiet harmonies and muted sonic colors—as if the canvases of the Impressionist painters came to life as music. Bell and Denk's virtuoso performance was recorded at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.