Watch the violin, listen to the violinist 

Among the famous musicians performing during the fifth annual Festival del Sole’s nine days in Napa is violinist Joshua Bell, known around the world not only for concerts and recitals, but also for being the “voice” of the movie “Red Violin.”

Still young, the 42-year-old Bell, a child prodigy, has enjoyed a three-decade career.

Watch his violin in Sunday’s concert at the Lincoln Theater as he plays the solo in the Mendelssohn Double Concerto (with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the Russian National Orchestra under the baton of Alondra de la Parra). The instrument has a sensational real-life history, rivaling the fictional red violin.

The Gibson Stradivarius is a legendary violin created by Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) and played by great artists over time. It disappeared in 1936 from the dressing room of Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman, who was onstage, using his other violin, a Guarnerius.

It was the second time the violin was stolen from Huberman; the first time, in 1919, it was returned in a few weeks. This time, it was gone for a half a century.

The man who stole (and used) it died in 1985, and legal complications followed until a decade later, when Bell bought it for around $4 million — a good deal.

The festival opens today with an interesting mix of Mozart and jazz. Conrad Tao is the soloist in the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 12 in a program also with French jazz pianist Claude Bolling’s Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio, and “Toot Suite” for Trumpet and Jazz Piano Trio.

New at Festival del Sole this year is a dance gala sponsored by Fine Arts Museums’ board President Dede Wilsey. The July 23 event at Lincoln Theater features principal dancers from the Bolshoi Theater, San Francisco Ballet and New York City Ballet.

The closing concert July 25 opens with works by San Francisco philanthropist Gordon Getty: “The Old Man in the Night” (to Getty’s own poem) and “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” (to Keats’ poem), performed by the Volti chorus and members of the Russian National Orchestra, and conducted by Carlo Ponti. Also on the program are Peter Lieberson’s “Neruda Songs” with mezzo Kelley O’Connor, and Dvorák’s Symphony No. 7.

 

IF YOU GO

Festival del Sole

Where: Various locations in Napa

When: Today through July 25

Tickets: $35 to $125

Contact: (888) 337-6272, www.festivaldelsole.com

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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