Violinist Joshua Bell speaks as eloquently as his music.
Bell is traveling to the Mesa Arts Center for a recital on Feb. 14 with his pianist/friend Sam Haywood.
The duo will cover Beethoven, Prokofiev, Grieg and additional works to be announced from the stage.
“It’s basically a two-hour tasting menu of classical music,” he said. “We’re starting with Beethoven, then comes Prokofiev and then Grieg. We’ll finish it off with dessert-type pieces.
“I leave room for spur-of-the-moment music from different periods of classical music. This is a different experience than seeing me at a symphony concert. I particularly like these intimate evenings. There’s more variety of music and you get to know the artist more directly.”
At the Valentine’s Day show, Bell hopes the audience can relate on some level to what he’s playing. For example, Beethoven grabs listeners by the scruff of the neck. It’s Bell’s job to find that intensity and channel the great musician. The other pieces are more lyrical and vulnerable.
“You get to know the artist in a different way,” he said. “I’ll talk with the audience. Many people tell me they enjoy this format because of that intimacy.”
By the time Bell reaches the MAC, he will have gone to the Grammys on Feb. 10. He was nominated for his recording with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields of the Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy and G Minor Concerto, but lost.
Named in 2011 as music director for the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Bell is the first person to hold this post since the late Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958.
“It’s always nice to be recognized,” Bell added about the Grammys. “I’ve won Grammys before. It’s actually been a decade since I’ve been nominated for one. It’s nice to get one. I don’t know how those things work or how the nominations or winners are chosen. It’s all a bit mysterious. I don’t get my hopes up or anything, but I get to go and see musical friends of mine from various genres of music.”
Bell keeps his awards on a mantle in his music room. He calls it his “ego mantle.”
“It gives me a little inspiration and reminds me to keep going,” he said.
Another source of inspiration is his autograph collection, which includes a variety of famous violinists and composers from the past couple hundred years.
“I also have a photo and signature of my teacher, Josef Gingold, who was my main mentor,” Bell said. “He gave it to me the day before he died. I also have a 500-ruble note from Russia that his parents brought over from Russia before they emigrated. It’s framed with the picture. I like collecting memorabilia.”