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French Impressions

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Jan. 10 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Music Canada
  • Run Time: 67.00 minutes
  • ASIN: B0067YF4Z4
  • In-Print Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #36,996 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

French Impressions, Joshua Bell's first recital program for Sony Classical features the Grammy Award-winning violinist and his longtime friend and recital partner, pianist Jeremy Denk, offering a passionately nuanced interpretation of works by Saint-Saens, Ravel and Franck. Says Bell, "French Impressions is the culmination of my last decade of exploration and performance with pianist Jeremy Denk, and I hope that with this recording we can affect the listener with the same joy and spiritual enrichment that these masterpieces have provided us over the years."

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This new CD transports you to France. Full of lushness and vibrant colour. A feast for the senses. It makes me dream of fields of lavender and strolls through Paris.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9e79cee8) out of 5 stars 33 reviews
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e721948) out of 5 stars Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk: A Lasting Collaboration Jan. 10 2012
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Both Joshua Bell, violin, and Jeremy Denk, piano, are enjoying brilliant careers in solo recitals and with orchestras and chamber ensembles around the world. Their relationship began in 2004 when they first joined mind and hands for making music. Now seven years later they continue to perform together whenever their busy careers allow. This recording captures three of heir favorite and most frequently performed works. All three are from the French Impressionists (actually Cesar Franck is from Belgium, but spent most of his creative live in France): Camille Saint-Saëns Sonata No. 1, Cesar Franck Violin Sonata in A Major, and Maurice Ravel Sonata for Violin and Piano.

To say that the beauty of their sound is the epitome of violin and piano music making is redundant. The degree of interplay and communication gives evidence of the innate musicality of both these young men is mysteriously in sync, even more so than knowing that they have performed together for so many years. As has been written regarding the liner notes of this recording , 'the fine pianist Jeremy Denk manages to encapsulate the elusiveness of French romantic music with such insight in a few sharp sentences, his words almost shape the way we listen to this superbly played disc.' Critics from England are saying 'Saint-Saëns' wistful and emotional Sonata No 1 and Ravel's bluesy, ironic sonata have a whipped, airy quality. Joshua Bell plays with fire and finesse, with Denk a powerful ally. Franck's dark-light violin sonata, mysterious, ardent and far more than the sum of its parts when played as majestically as here, forms the centerpiece of this seriously beguiling album.'

Of all the new recording issued thus far this year this CD, FRENCH IMPRESSIONS, with the combined allure of Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk, is one of the very finest. Grady Harp, January 12
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
By RBSProds - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Five IMPRESSIONISTIC Stars!! Classical virtuosos Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk are a superbly-paired and dynamic duo! Seven years into their musical association, this formidable duo has decided to do a grouping of pieces they have played many times in concert. These represent some of the most "profound statements" of the chosen French composers. While the more familiar and challenging César Franck Violin Sonata in A Major (especially the intense Allegretto poco mosso movement) and the well known Maurice Ravel Sonata for Violin and Piano (especially the full-tilt Perpetuum Mobile: Allegro movement) receive glorious performances by Mr. Bell and Dr. Denk, the 'best of the best' is the less familiar Camille Saint-Saëns Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano in D Minor, Opus 75: a piece the duo has played "50 times or more" and the familiarity, understanding, and matched duo nuances are clearly on demonstration here (especially the thrilling Allegro Agitato, the Adagio, and perhaps best of all, the awesome Allegro molto movement). These are inspired performances by two superb musicians on a singular musical mission that receive My Highest Recommendation. Five DAZZLING Stars! (This review is based on an mp3 download. 11 tracks; Time 67:21.)
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e721dd4) out of 5 stars Joshua Bell and the French School of Violin March 4 2012
By Ronald B. Ein - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
During his career Joshua Bell has covered the range of European violin music from Russia to the U.S., including our folk traditions. He is fully capable of the biggest Romantic gestures, full-on theatrics when playing Russian or Germanic pieces. But he has a special connection to the French tradition, particularly of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, spinning out lyrical lines with ease and grace, shaping dynamics with subtle artlessness. This recording presents three of the most important and beautiful violin-piano sonatas of this school.

First, Jeremy Denk is a complete partner in this effort on piano. The two performers match phrasing, mood, style. Fine pairing.

Second, I was particularly interested in his take on the Saint-Saens Sonata No. 1 because I had just attended Julia Fischer's recital that included this piece, so wanted to compare. Fischer was, if anything, a bit more muscular, more emphatic, than Bell. Some of Fischer's energy may have come from my hearing a live performance, adrenaline playing a bit more into her interpretation. Still, each was within the scope of the composition, bringing out the darker quality of Saint-Saens found more in his chamber pieces than the orchestral work.

Third, Bell's teacher was Josef Gingold who was a student of Eugene Ysaye, in whose circle of close friends was Caesar Franck who made a gift of his new Sonata to Ysaye on the latter's wedding. In interviews Bell has talked about the importance to him of that line of connection to the creation and transmission of this piece. Perhaps it is superfluous to write that Bell's technique is impeccable, but I have tried to play this sonata only to find it far more difficult than it looks on the page. He plays with such ease and grace that it is easy to take the perfect intonation for granted. His interpretation is suave, while he varies moods from section to section and from movement to movement seamlessly. Jeremy Denk is more than a match for an extremely difficult piano part; without overpowering the violin, Denk mirrors Bell's every move.

There are many beautiful interpretations of these works, but for anyone who enjoys Joshua Bell's grace and elegance, this is a terrific recording.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e721dbc) out of 5 stars A very fine recording March 7 2012
By congwen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
After getting it yesterday afternoon, I have listened to this CD for 4 times. It's just so beautiful and intriguing that I simply can't stop listening to it. I'm totally in love with Joshua Bell's violin sound. I didn't used to care for violin music until I heard his playing. The smooth, silvery sound is incredible, and his beautiful lyrical tone makes everything he plays seem special.

Every piece in this collection is executed with absolute precision, but the sound is never clinical. The warm singing tone of Bell's Strad and the clear resonant melody from Denk's Steinway complement each other nicely. I especially like their rendition of Ravel's Sonata. From the transparent, airy opening movement, to the lovely bluesy central movement, and then to the energetic final movement, they offered a truly ear-catching performance. The Saint-Saens and Franck are also delivered excellently, with much grace and refinement. As Denk's well written liner notes pointed out, this music is about the color of sounds, and this recording really brings out the different shades of the music. In this sense, the title is not a misnomer at all - it is just like the French impressionist paintings, a celebration of the beauty of light and colors.

All in all, this wonderful recording is a real treat for the classical music lovers.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e723294) out of 5 stars Outstanding Duo July 24 2012
By Samir Sobhy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For this CD, Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk chose the music of three of the great French romantic composers of the second half of the 18th Century: Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921), Cesar Franck (1822-1890), and Maurice Ravel (1875-1937). As Denk writes in the booklet, "sound" to the romantic composers was like "light" to the French impressionist painters, hence the title of the CD. The comparison is not only very smart, but also logical: the romantic and the impressionist movements in music and painting took place "side by side" in the second half of the last century. It is understandable that they had in common many affinities and sensibilities.
The choice of the works: Sonata for Violin and Piano by each composer, allows the listener to enjoy a wonderfully even mood throughout the entire time, though, obviously, each composer had his own individual visions, musical expressions, etc.
In addition to the outstanding virtuosity of each of the two performers, the most exceptional aspect of the CD is, in my view, their profound feeling for and appreciation of the characteristics and sensibilities of French music of the romantic period. This, together with their mutual respect and understanding for each other, made their performance unique. This is very obvious in the way the violin and the piano were interacting, complementing, and balancing each other. Not for a single second was there any confusion or attempt of domination or overshadowing one another. This is an outstanding achievement especially, as we all know, the piano, with its powerful sounds, usually tend to dominate over other instruments, especially the violin, which is much more delicate and subtle. This never happens in this performance.
Lastly, from his notes on the CD, Jeremy Denk proves to be an outstanding writer/commentator of music, with remarkable images, metaphors, and choice of words and expressions, making him a brilliant writer, as well as musician!!
This CD is a MUST for all music lovers!

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