At the very opening of the concerto, for instance - so pristinely played in the Decca account - there's now more than a dash of gypsy soulfulness and spice. His tone fairly throbs with vibrato, ornately embroidered with portamento. How much warmer the Adagio is, too; less poised and aloof, more ardent and elastic.
This elasticity is perhaps even more crucial in the Scottish Fantasy, with its fancifully discursive solo part, and Bell's rubato feels natural and authoritative throughout. There's persuasive urgency as well as sweetness, for example, in his playing of the tune 'Through the wood, laddie' in the first movement (at 5'03").
"At first glance, one might wonder whether the Academy of St Martin in the Fields has sufficient tonal upholstery to cope with Bruch's perennial swashbucklers, yet the orchestra sounds gloriously attuned to the idiom here, responding to Joshua Bell's fine-honed direction with alacrity, captured in an opulent-sounding acoustic. This is Bell's first recording of the Scottish Fantasy and he relishes Bruch's affectionate tributes to 'Auld Rob Morris', 'The Dusty Miller', 'I'm Down for the Lack of Johnnie' and 'Scots wha hae' with the suave blandishments of an expert swordsman. No less fascinating is his rethink of the G minor Concerto, which builds on the youthful virtuosic exuberance of his first recording with the Academy and Neville Marriner for Decca to create a more soulfully reflective, heartfelt, radiant intensity. It sets the seal on one of Bell's most captivatingly inspired releases."
Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Joshua Bell - The Making of Scottish Fantasy
Joshua Bell and Academy of St.Martin in the Fields