Back in 2011, American violinist Joshua Bell became the first music director of London’s Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, since its founding by Neville Marriner. Bell and the orchestra already had a longstanding relationship: Around the time of the violinist’s 19th birthday, he recorded Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Academy. Now it feels that things have come full circle, as Bell is not only Music Director, has recorded concertos and symphonies with the group, but has revisited Bruch’s best-known work in this new CD, “Scottish Fantasy”.
No longer with a conductor as intermediary, Bell communicates and plays directly with his orchestra. “Scottish Fantasy” refers to one of many Bruch compositions inspired by other cultures, and is Bell’s first recording of the 4-movement work. Music director (of All Classical Portland) John Pitman chats with Mr. Bell about the music, the composer, and his lifelong love of the Oregon Symphony and Portland (Part of the discussion is about Bell’s visit (May, 2018) to Portland Recovery Center, to play for the residents.