Throughout his career, violinist Joshua Bell has always sought to expand the range of works available for his instrument, and with the aptly titled ROMANCE OF THE VIOLIN, he ventures a bit further from the core of the repertoire. None of the selections on the album were composed for violin, and the works were chosen strictly for the beauty of their melody without regard to the original instrumentation.
Bell looks well beyond the confines of the violin for inspiration, tapping into the literature of piano works, vocal music, and even opera arias. The result is a stylistically diverse, but musically coherent, program of transcriptions and arrangements that spans over 400 years of music history, one that the prodigious violinist finds himself right at home in. Bell's interpretations eloquently convey the lyricism of works such as Debussy's "The Girl with the Flaxen Hair," Schumann's "Träumerei," and nocturnes by Chopin and Borodin. He's at his finest in the songs and arias such as "O Mio Babbino Caro" from Puccini's 'Gianni Schicchi,' "Casta Diva" from Bellini's 'Norma,' and Schubert's "Serenade" from the 'Schwanengesang' song cycle, gracefully applying his lush tone and elegant phrasing to the sublime melodies. The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields provides superb accompaniment throughout this fine set.