Music review: Joshua Bell and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Usher Hall, Edinburgh ****
That sense of focus and meaning was there in an eager, propulsive Beethoven Second Symphony, which Bell directed with sweeping but eloquent gestures from the leader’s chair – its first movement, in particular, was crisply detailed but never pernickety.
Beforehand, US composer Edgar Meyer’s recent Overture for violin and orchestra was rather a polite, softly spoken offering, intricate in its rhythmic interplay but seldom demonstrative about its witty complexities. Written specially for Bell, it drew on the violinist’s agility and lyrical tone to great effect, but if it might take a few more listens for the piece to lodge in the memory.
Bell’s opener was a fresh, vibrant Four Seasons, at once fastidiously considered and joyfully supple. The Academy players attacked Vivaldi’s pictorial evocations with relish – especially delightful were John Constable’s tasteful harpsichord contributions – a confident, self-assured account from a fruitful partnership.