It is the rabbit!

Joshua Bell – Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

I love Vivaldi, particularly The Four Seasons.  So when Joshua Bell came out with a version, I bought a digital copy, my first purchase of online music ever (huh, Amazon has no DRM!). Who the hell is Bell? Well, I guess I had been living under an orchestral rock all these years, but I had never heard of him until I watched The Red Violin. Good music in that movie, by the way. Anyway, he’s some l33t violinist, a God Emperor of the fiddle, who has been playing since he was the size of a keebler elf. His weapon of choice is the +37 Aural Orgasm, 300 year old Stradivarius, Gibson ex-Huberman Violin of Death. An optional mace can be attached to the end of it.

As for the album, Bell is very good of course. But I wasn’t much of a raving fan of the overall interpretation by the rest of the orchestra. I’m not calling for some old school baroque version or anything, but it just seemed a bit too bright and cheery. “Spring” and “Summer” were fine, but certain other sections, particularly the third movement of concerto #3, “Autumn,” just seemed out of place.  I don’t remember it being so…staccato. The whole pizzicato section sounded too loud, as well, almost barging in.

I felt generally the same way about movement 1 of concerto 4, “Winter.”  Too bright. Here’s the translation of the sonnet that is supposed to go with that movement:

To tremble from cold in the icy snow,
In the harsh breath of a horrid wind;
To run, stamping one’s feet every moment,
Our teeth chattering in the extreme cold.

It kinda sounded more like, “Duuude, I just totally dished out a backside 180 off that kicker!” OK, I’m exaggerating. But just a bit too bright. I think some dude messed up at the end, too. They probably backhanded him in the face for that. And then there’s this one instrument that kinda jumps into the fray oddly at the end. I want to say it’s the harpsichord, but it sounds like a piano; however, I didn’t think there was even a piano involved. Ok, i’m nitpicking, since it was a measly four notes. Good pizzicato in this movement, though.

Anyway, overall, it’s pretty good, but I don’t have any more of my other Four Season versions to compare. Bell was obviously superior in every way to the violinist of The Four Seasons that I saw in Venice, but he was probably just some guy. Oh and the album comes with a bonus track, called the “Devil’s Trill Sonata.” I didn’t like it initially, but it’s growing on me. Maybe because it’s not so happy-happy.

Oh yeah, it looks like Bell will be in San Fran Oct. 23rd signings copies if anyone cares.

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