Joshua Bell's fresh approach to these violin warhorses makes for an unexpectedly inviting listening experience. In the Mendelssohn he marries his bright tone to forthright phrasing in a manner that communicates the music's emotion without sliding into the gooey sweetness heard in some interpretations. There's little if anything hackneyed about Bell's reading, indicating he's thought about the work anew, right through to the stylistically appropriate cadenza he composed himself (Bell cites research that suggests Mendelssohn's friend Ferdinand David may have actually composed the original cadenza). Roger Norrington's crisp, period-informed style, with its pointed accents and propulsive energy easily fits in with Bell's conception.
Dejan Lazić has long been interested in the art of the transcription, and here his program is built around the piano concerto that Beethoven fashioned from his own Violin Concerto. Lazić gives a fine performance: Trim and punchy, it sits well under his fingers. It was created for London-based Muzio Clementi, pianist and publisher, whose imposing B-minor Sonata makes an apt companion. As does the third panel of this triptych, the Sonata written by Johann Baptiste Cramer, a musician admired by Beethoven and who also settled in London. His dramatic sonata “Le Retour à Londres” is thrillingly played here.
Singer Anita Ward is most well-known for her 1979 disco single "Ring My Bell," a number one pop hit in the U.S. and the U.K. Born on December 20, 1957 in Memphis, Tennessee, Ward developed an interest in music – particularly gospel – at an early age. She went on to sing with the Rust College A Cappella Choir (which included recording alongside renowned Metropolitan Opera vocalist Leontyne Price), and recorded an obscure album with her own gospel quartet. After graduation, however, Ward didn't set out to pursue a career in music and instead became a substitute teacher in the Memphis elementary school system…
This is a very complete set indeed. It includes all the quartets in the latest edition prepared by Jonathan Del Mar which restores many important markings by Beethoven and which has been done in collaboration with the Endellion Quartet. Both versions of the first quartet or included as well as Beethoven's quartet arrangement of the piano sonata Op. 14 no. 1. the Gross Fuge, both string quintets plus other works for string quartet including the two prelude and fugues.