Violinist Joshua Bell began his Project San Francisco residency with the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) at the beginning of this month, performing Glazunov with the ensemble under the baton of guest conductor Vasily Petrenko. On November 10 Bell will return to Davies Symphony Hall for the recital “phase” of that residency. The program will consist of four violin sonatas, three from the nineteenth century and one from the twentieth.
The twentieth-century sonata is the one composition that Bell will perform without accompaniment. It is the third of the Opus 27 set of six sonatas for solo violin by Eugène Ysaÿe. Each of these sonatas was dedicated to one of Ysaÿe’s contemporary violinists; and the dedicatee of the third, which is in the key of D minor, is George Enescu. The sonata is sometimes called “Ballade;” and it is in two sections: Lento molto sostenuto followed by Allegro in tempo giusto e con bravura. All six sonatas are famous (notorious?) for their technical demands; but expressiveness was always Ysaÿe’s highest priority. The Wikipedia entry for these sonatas includes a Ysaÿe quote from Frederick Martens book, Violin Mastery – Talks with Master Violinists and Teachers, in which he asserts firmly that the performer “must be a violinist, a thinker, a poet, a human being, he must have known hope, love, passion and despair, he must have run the gamut of the emotions in order to express them all in his playing.”
For the other three sonatas on the program, Bell will be accompanied by pianist Sam Haywood. The earliest of these will be the second of the Opus 30 sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven, in C minor, composed between 1801 and 1802. This will be preceded by Felix Mendelssohn’s 1838 sonata in F major. The program will conclude with the 1886 A major sonata by César Franck.
This recital will be given in Davies Symphony Hall at 8 PM on Thursday, November 10. Ticket prices range from $15 to $140 and may be purchased through the event page for this concert on the Symphony Web site. Tickets may also be purchased at the Davies Box Office on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street or by calling 415-864-6000.