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Joshua Bell & the Academy of St Martin in the Fields@Davies Hall / San Francisco Classical Voice review

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A program that looked rather ordinary going in – the Academy of St Martin in the Fields playing standard repertory works by Prokofiev, Bruch, and Beethoven, along with a less familiar Schumann extract – unspooled as an intriguing and instructive tale of two concerts Sunday, March 6, at Davies Symphony Hall. The first half of the evening was flat-out wonderful. With superstar violinist and St Martin Music Director Joshua Bell leading the way from his concertmaster post, the orchestra opened with a limber, wit-filled, and joyous performance of Prokofiev's "Classical" Symphony, No. 1. The chamber-scale band muscled up a bright, full-bodied sound without ever pushing or straining to do it.

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