If the quantity of photos available online depicting a young violinist next to smiling, modestly dressed girls is any indication of classical music stardom, then Joshua Bell is off the charts. One could argue, too, that the admiration from students of an art that requires hours of practice a day is more meaningful than that of the screeching hordes who pay daddy's thousands for a concert with Disney's idol du jour. At the Arsht Center's Knight Concert Hall on Saturday, not only would it take a concerted effort to drop a cool grand, but any attendee will need to possess the talent of sitting still for a half hour at a time.
All hype aside, Joshua Bell is the genuine article. His patent expressiveness is never to the detriment of the work he is performing. Even while raging through a fast-paced passage of Beethoven, for example, Bell displays a keen understanding of the music at hand, making certain each note is paid its proper attention. The Concerto No. 3 for Violin and Orchestra of Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), while leaving lots of room for the soloist to shine, is plenty dynamic and colorful enough to allow for an appreciation of the New World Symphony's many strengths.
The baton this evening is in the hand of the great Vladimir Ashkenazy, a combined six-time Grammy winner as a pianist and conductor. Symphony No. 1, "Titan", by Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), with its thunderous final movement, complements well this orchestra, which likes nothing better than to let its hair down. With any luck, nature will get in the spirit, and bring a storm over downtown Miami to complete the mood of this dark grand finale.
New World Symphony. With Vladimir Ashkenazy, conductor and Joshua Bell, violinist. Saturday, January 24. Knight Concert Hall, the Arsht Center, 1300 Biscyane Blvd., Miami. Show starts at 8 p.m.; tickets cost $19 to $161. 305-949-6722; www.arshtcenter.org.
-- Andres Solar
(In the photo: Joshua Bell)