Joshua Bell and Edgar Meyer | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Joshua Bell and Edgar Meyer

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JOSHUA BELL AND EDGAR MEYER

Violinist Joshua Bell offers a salutary example of how a precocious talent can mature into a thoughtful performer. A student of the renowned Joseph Gingold, the Indiana native made his much-heralded debut 16 years ago with the Philadelphia Orchestra; for years afterward, his choirboy looks and manners were just as responsible for the attention he got as his sensitive playing and ethereal sound. But now, at 30, he seems to have grown into his reputation. On a recent recording with the Cleveland Orchestra of concertos by Brahms and Schumann, he broke with tradition and wrote his own, characteristically understated cadenzas, proving that he can tease the poetry out of even the most standard standards. Modern-day composers clamor to write for him--the latest being John Corigliano, whose score for the upcoming film The Red Violin, by the makers of Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, prominently showcases Bell (who also serves as a body double). Bell belongs to a coterie of youngish crossover instrumentalists who often jam together in a chamber setting; he'll be joined this weekend by one of his regular partners, the ace bassist Edgar Meyer. Compared to the clean-cut Bell, Meyer's a bit of a punk, and it shows in his playing. Not content with the subservient role of his instrument in the classical repertoire, this member of Lincoln Center's Chamber Music Society has raided other realms, playing on records by Mary Chapin Carpenter, Garth Brooks, and Travis Tritt and leading his own progressive bluegrass band. In these gigs with Bell--and pianist Adrienne Park and cellist Ron Thomas--Meyer will trot out a few of his own fusions, namely his rowdy String Trio and the premiere of his Duos for Violin and Bass. The programs also feature two unusual classical works that star the double bass: Bottesini's Grand Duo Concertante, which Bell and Meyer plan to record for Sony in the near future, and Rossini's Duo. Friday and Saturday, 8 PM, Ascension Church, 815 S. East, Oak Park; 708-383-6456. TED SHEN

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Joshua Bell photo by Mark Sink; Edgar Meyer photo uncredited.

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