Joshua Bell & Jeremy Denk make "French Impressions" recording works by Ravel, Saint-Saens and Franck

On JOSHUA BELL’s new album, FRENCH IMPRESSIONS, Grammy-award-winning violinist Bell and his longtime friend and recital partner, pianist Jeremy Denk offer a passionately nuanced interpretation of works by Saint-Saëns, Ravel and Franck. French Impressions boasts a number of milestones: it’s Bell’s first CD of sonatas since joining Sony Classical in 1996; it is Bell and Denk’s first recital album together, and it’s the first commercial recording made at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Produced by multiple Grammy-award-winner Steven Epstein, French Impressions will be released January 10 on Sony Classical and features Camille Saint- Saëns Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano in D Minor Op 75 (1885); César Franck Violin Sonata in A Major (1886), and Maurice Ravel Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Major (1927).

César Franck’s Violin Sonata is Bell’s homage to his mentor, Josef Gingold, with whom he studied at Indiana University in Bloomington. The sonata honors Bell’s lineage as a violinist going back to Belgian violinist Eugene Ysaÿe for whom Cesar Franck wrote this very piece on the occasion of Ysaÿe’s wedding. Gingold, whom Bell has described as “the most memorable and significant person in my musical life,” was a student of the Ysaÿe, and first introduced Bell to the work at age 12 at his studio. Bell relishes the memory of Gingold describing and imitating the nuance and charm Ysaÿe brought to the sonata and today regards Ysaÿe as his “musical grandfather.”

“Gingold captivated me with his affection for these three jewels of the violin/piano repertoire --Franck, Ravel, and the Saint-Saëns sonatas. This is music notable for its nuance, sensuality, and transcendent beauty, and one's contemplation of these profound works is a life-long journey. 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 with over the years,” says Bell.”

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