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Joshua Bell | ASMF shine at Symphony Hall / Boston Globe

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The last time superstar violinist Joshua Bell brought the Academy of St Martin in the Fields to Symphony Hall, in 2012, the bill included a big violin concerto - the Beethoven - and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7. Sunday, in a return engagement sponsored by the Celebrity Series, the big violin concerto was the Tchaikovsky, and the Beethoven symphony was No. 8. There was nothing revelatory about the program, or the performances, but plenty to enjoy.

Bell conducted from the concertmaster's chair, using both his body and his bow to cue the rest of the 40-member orchestra. First and second violins were not antiphonally seated, but in the end that hardly mattered. Prokofiev's brief, Haydn-inspired Symphony No. 1, the "Classical," was the attractive program opener. Bell's reading was less acidic than is often the case, with full-blooded contributions from horns and timpani. He kept the motor running throughout; the Larghetto tripped delicately, the Gavotte had more swagger than usual, and the Finale went with easy brio.


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