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Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:07

Joshua Bell Releases New Album and Collaborates with Chenoweth, Sting and Others



On JOSHUA BELL’s new album, AT HOME WITH FRIENDS, the Grammy Award-winning violinist fulfills a life-long career dream of recording a CD of instrumental and vocal duets with a diverse roster of musicians including Chris Botti, Sting, Josh Groban, Kristin Chenoweth, Regina Spektor, Anoushka Shankar, Marvin Hamlisch, Tiempo Libre, among others.  AT HOME WITH FRIENDS (Sony Classical) will be available on September 29.  

The concept of AT HOME WITH FRIENDS was inspired by Bell’s long-time practice of holding ‘musical soirées’ at his New York residence – eclectic gatherings of musicians, actors, comics, literary figures and others who convene for the sheer joy of sharing their art in an informal setting.  With this in mind, Bell has spent the past four years designing and building his home in Manhattan to accommodate the ideal ‘stay-at-home’ venue.

Of his inspiration for the album concept Bell says “Some of my most precious memories of childhood recall the  ‘family musicales’ in my home – my sisters, my parents, my cousins all playing music together and for each other during the holidays.  Since then I went on to have many thrilling experiences in concert halls, but I still enjoy the experience of making music with my friends and family in a small, intimate setting. There’s nothing like sitting on a pillow by the piano surrounded by passionate artists, not quite sure who’s going to get up next to perform. It’s my hope that this recording figuratively transports listeners into the room with us.”

AT HOME WITH FRIENDS covers a world of music - genres from classical to pop, bluegrass to Broadway, jazz and ethnic World Music of every stripe.  The repertoire ranges from a 16th Century love song (performed by Bell and Sting) to pure violin-piano duets – with Marvin Hamlisch (on Richard Rodgers’ “I’ll Take Manhattan”), with Dave Grusin (on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Chovendo Na Roseira”), and with Las Vegas musician Frankie Moreno (on the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby”).  It also includes full-scale ensembles with Chris Botti (on the Gershwins’ “I Loves You Porgy” from Porgy And Bess) and Josh Groban (introducing his lyrics for film composer Ennio Morricone’s title theme from Cinema Paradiso) and unexpected partnerships with the likes of Regina Spektor (in a Spektor penned piece “Left Hand Song”), Anoushka Shankar (in a piece written for her and Joshua by her father, the legendary Ravi Shankar), the Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth (in “My Funny Valentine”), and Rachmaninoff himself on the piano in Grieg’s violin sonata (thanks to an astounding new recording technology).

Sting’s 2007 album, The Journey and the Labyrinth is the source for “Come Again,” one of two tracks on AT HOME WITH FRIENDS that is arranged by Bell and J.A.C. Redford.  The other is the title theme of the 1995 film Il Postino, in which Bell joins award-winning tango aficionado Carel Kraayenhof on bandoneon.  In turn, Bell, Kraayenhof and the same rhythm section breathe new fire into “Oblivion,” composed by all-time revolutionary Argentine nuevo tango master Ástor Piazzolla.  Bell continues with the Latin flavor on “Para Tí,” composed by Jorge Gomez, founder and pianist of two-time Grammy-nominated Cuban band Tiempo Libre.

Ten years after their 1999 collaboration Short Trip Home (Sony Classical) and their subsequent appearance on the Grammy’s telecast, Bell is reunited with his Indiana University school-mate Edgar Meyer on the double-bass, along with buddies Sam Bush on mandolin, and guitarist Mike Marshall in “Maybe So.”  The concept of Bluegrass/Classical fusion is taken to yet another level on “Look Away,” a new work composed by Meyer and mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile.  These two join Bell in this first-time collaboration.

In another first-time collaboration, Soviet-born American singer songwriter Regina Spektor joins Bell to record a song that she has often performed in concert, but never recorded. Fans commonly referred to the tune as “The Meatball Song” and “A Lesson In How Fleeing Preservation Is.” Its official title is “Left Hand Song,” aptly named as Spektor wrote it using her left hand.
In another ‘hometown connection’  Bell joins Indiana-born Baritone Nathan Gunn and I.U. graduate and long-time recital partner Jeremy Denk in  “O, Cease Thy Singing, Maiden Fair”, a Russian poem by Alexander Pushkin, set to music by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

AT HOME WITH FRIENDS also celebrates the holidays with Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” presented by Bell and Chris Botti with a full rhythm section as well as Kristin Chenoweth and Bell on “O Holy Night.” These songs will be available as retail exclusives.

With more than 30 original albums to his credit, Bell has captured the public’s attention like no other classical violinist of his time, enchanting audiences worldwide with his breathtaking playing and tone of rare beauty, as performed on his legendary Stradivarius violin made in 1713. Equally at home as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra leader, Bell has earned countless awards and honors for his work as a concert stage performer and recording artist.  He has won multiple Grammy awards and was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize. His 2004 album Romance of the Violin was named the “Classical CD of the Year” by Billboard Magazine, with Bell named “Classical Artist of the Year.”  In the national spotlight since age 14 (when he made his acclaimed orchestral debut with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra), and a recording artist since age 18, Bell has been an exclusive Sony Music artist for more than a decade. Acclaimed for the wide range of music he has chosen to record, Bell’s output ranges from mainstream classical concertos by Sibelius and Beethoven, a live recording with the Berlin Philharmonic (Tchaikovsky concerto), the bluegrass inspired Short Trip Home - from the jazz influenced Gershwin Fantasy, to the Bernstein-inspired West Side Story Suite and many others. His interest in film is particularly notable, having performed all the violin solos in The Red Violin, helping the film win an Oscar for the “Best Original Score” (written by John Corigliano). He has received recognition beyond his awards that are not common to most classical artists, having been the first musician to have a classical music video played on VH1, to appearing as himself on Sesame Street and alongside Meryl Streep in Music of the Heart.

Track Listing

  1. I Loves You Porgy – featuring Chris Botti, trumpet
  2. Come Again - featuring Sting, vocals
  3. Oblivion - featuring Carel Kraayenhof, bandoneon
  4. Cinema Paradiso - featuring Josh Groban, vocals
  5. Para Tí - featuring Tiempo Libre, various
  6. My Funny Valentine -  featuring Kristin Chenoweth, vocals
  7. Maybe So - featuring Edgar Meyer, Double-bass, Sam Bush, Mandolin and Mike Marshall Guitar
  8. Grieg: Sonata No. 3 – featuring Sergei Rachmaninoff (Zenph re-performance)
  9. Eleanor Rigby  - featuring Frankie Moreno, piano & vocals
  10. O, Cease Thy Maiden Fair  - Nathan Gunn, baritone
  11. Il Postino - featuring Carel Kraayenhof, bandoneon
  12. Left Hand Song – featuring Regina Spektor, piano & vocals
  13. Chovendo Na Roseira - featuring Dave Grusin,  piano
  14. Look Away - featuring Edgar Meyer, bass and Chris Thile, mandolin
  15. Variant Moods: Duet for Sitar & Violin (abridged version)  - featuring Anoushka Shankar, sitar
  16. I'll Take Manhattan - featuring Marvin Hamlisch, piano

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Last modified on Tuesday, 29 September 2009 17:13