Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk release French Impressions


I was SO EXCITED to get the chance to interview Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk this week! Their new CD is called French Impressions, and Josh will also be here January 10 to perform Bruch's Violin Concerto with SSO. I've transcribed the segment of our chat where I posed some questions from our Classical KING FM listeners:

MF: This is for Josh - Alex asked, what is the most challenging violin concerto for you?

JB: Ooh, the most challenging violin concerto! I would say - if I had to pick one, and each has its own challenges - but the one that I think can make a violinist sound the worst [laughs], so the challenge is not to sound bad - among other things it's also one of the most glorious pieces ever written, and to capture that, what it deserves, is a great challenge - and that would be the Beethoven. The Beethoven may not sound, on the surface, as difficult as the Tchaikovsky or the Paganini or the Sibelius, but the Beethoven for me is maybe my favorite, but also my most feared and most challenging.

MF: This is for Jeremy - if you could invite any composer from history to attend a performance of yours, who would it be? This is from Alan.

JD: I would like to hear what Bach would have to say about Bach! [laughs]  I would love to invite Bach, but only with the proviso that after the concert we could sit down, and he could tell me what he really thought. And then most importantly, when other people would tell me how to play Bach, I'd be like, well, Bach said - !

JB: Or, Bach agreed!

MF: Kelley Marie asked Josh, what inspires you most about collaborations?

JB: Well I love collaborations, most of the time. I mean I've had collaborations that can be torturous and challenging over the years, but you can learn from those as well. But it's the play, you know, between the two or four or whatever, it's playing off of someone and seeing their approach. It affects how you see music. It's really approaching these pieces, like with Jeremy - you know, the Franck sonata, I've probably played it a thousand times before I played it with Jeremy. Then sitting down and playing together for the first time, you hear the pieces in a whole new light. And then you have to figure out how you're going to incorporate your view with that. It's like a puzzle, a fun puzzle.

MF:  Keith asked, as a former ranked tennis player in school, do you think the kick serve is the toughest shot in the game?

JB: My tennis prowess is exaggerated, and I wasn't ranked. I just was a competitive player. But I did enter a lot of tournaments as a kid, and was into it between the ages of ten and twelve. And my serve was never really that refined. I hardly had lessons in tennis, I just played from an early age and was somewhat natural at it, and I loved the game.

MF: Amanda asked, what interests do you have that most people might not know about?

JB: Football! I love NFL football! Last night I ran into Wynton Marsalis at Glenn Close's movie premiere for her new film, and all we talked about was football. I was happy that I asked him - you like football, right? And we couldn't stop talking about the nuances of football, and who's going to win, and the Tim Tebow miracles that have been happening! So I love football.

MF: Can I just ask you, do you like Roger Federer? My husband is a big fan and he wanted to know.

JB: He happens to be my favorite player. I love the elegance of his playing and the effortlessness. It really ties into French Impressions! [laughs] It does, you know! When I think of this kind of music - if I had to say one tennis player that would relate to the elegance and nuance of French music, it would have to be Federer.

MF: For both of you, and this is from Eric: how do you guys keep up with such a hectic traveling and performing schedule? Doesn't it drive you crazy?

JD: It actually does, but - I do a lot of exercise to keep sane, and a lot of sort of mindless distracting things. I watch a lot of pretty idiotic television!

JB: I do that too!

JD: Just to sort of take the brain down from the high pitch of the concentration of performing and practicing.

JB: But I think we thrive on crazy a little bit. I think anyone who does what we do has to thrive on it. Living on the edge, and being in a different city every night, juggling repertoire and the pressure of walking out onstage so often, you have to be a little bit nuts to want to endure that night after night!

MF: And it's rewarding though, all the waves of love and adulation. Everyone loves you! That feels good, doesn't it?

JB: As long as you don't read anything that's written on the Internet!

MF: David asked, how was it working with Paula Patton on the new Mission Impossible movie?

JB: Are you addressing Jeremy? Because I didn't do that.

MF: Was it Jeremy?

JD: I haven't even seen any of the Mission Impossible movies!

JB: I've been told I look like Tom Cruise on occasion, but that's just from one of my sisters.

JD: I have seen all the Twilight movies though, I can tell you a lot about that.

MF: Do you like those? Should I see them, I haven't seen them yet.

JD: No, you shouldn't! I wouldn't wish it on you!


 - I'll try to get the entire interview transcribed and up here in a second post :))) - maxine


Young Bach

An attempt at a more painterly type of cartoon. Tried to build up values with a digital painting technique, rather than relying on outline. Semi-successful...not sure if I should have hatched the hair or not.