When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Cost: $64 to $89 for general admission and $20 for UCSB students with ID.
Where: The Granada, 1214 State St.
Information: UCSB Arts & Lectures at 893-3535, www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.
Grammy-winning violinist Joshua Bell loves the sound of playing timeless music with two longtime friends and collaborators.
With their help, he hopes to bring down the house.
“They’re both incredibly energetic,” Mr. Bell, 51, told the News-Press recently about British cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Jeremy Denk.
“When you play with someone like that, it inspires you to play with more commitment and energy,” Mr. Bell said by phone as a New York City taxi took the touring musician to an airport. “I think it’s bound to be good chemistry.”
The audience will see the chemistry in action when the Bell-Isserlis-Denk Trio performs classical music by major composers at 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Granada.
“I love coming to Santa Barbara,” said Mr. Bell, who lives in the Big Apple. “I seem to come there very often. It’s beautiful. I always look forward to it.”
His trio is playing together during its first U.S. tour.
At The Granada, they will perform Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 2 in C Minor, Opus 66; Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Opus 67; Rachmaninoff’s Trio elegique No. 1 in G Minor; and Ravel’s Piano Trio in A Minor.
“It’s the kind of music that appeals to those who are connoisseurs of classical music because it’s some of the greatest music,” Mr. Bell said.
“But it’s also music that is easily accessible to those who may not have heard a classical concert before, so it works for both groups,” he added.
The concert of piano trios begins with Mendelssohn, a German composer Mr. Bell said is usually reserved for the end of a program because of his exciting music.
But because the show is full of blockbusters, Mr. Bell knew he could start and end the concert on a high note.
“Along with Schubert, Mendelssohn writes the most beautiful melodies of any classical composers,” Mr. Bell said.
He added that the composer should be held in the same high regard as Mozart and Beethoven.
After Mendelssohn, the trio will switch gears to the dark but beautiful sounds of Shostakovich, a Russian composer.
The second half of the concert will start with a romantic, seven-minute work that Mr. Bell said is one of the lesser known pieces by another Russian musician, Rachmaninoff.
Then Mr. Bell and his friends will play what the concert is building up to: the Ravel piano trio. The violinist described the French composer’s work as “very dream-like.”
“The Ravel piece ends with a huge climax,” Mr. Bell said. “You can bring the house down if you play it properly, which I hope we will.”
Mr. Bell’s love for classical music began at a young age in his hometown of Bloomington, Indiana.
He started playing the violin at age 4 and was so infatuated with the instrument that he didn’t see a need to play his family’s piano or anything else.
“I love the violin because it’s the most expressive instrument, second only perhaps to the human voice,” Mr. Bell said.
“I did an album called ‘The Voice of the Violin’ several years back when I actually played opera arias that I arranged for the violin,” he noted.
Mr. Bell plays the music he loves on a 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin.
He said playing great violins is trickier, but ultimately allows access to more colors of sound.
“It’s also a piece of history, a piece of art. Every time I open up my violin case, it’s pretty awesome,” Mr. Bell said.
“It inspires me to practice,” he added. “I’m playing with this ancient relic that’s also worth a fortune.”
As he rehearses with his friends, Mr. Bell thinks about what composers such as Mendelssohn or Ravel were conveying to their audiences.
“We spend hours and hours in the practice room, discussing, playing and figuring out what the composer really means by this phase and the overall piece,” the violinist said.
“Our approach is we don’t need to update it or add something from today. The language is abstract, and it addresses human emotions that have been around forever.”