This week violinist Joshua Bell with pianist Jeremy Denk released "French Impressions," the first album recorded in the Music Instrument Museum's Music Theater. An intimate venue in Phoenix, the MIM Music Theater books a busy schedule of world class artists and was designed to be a space for recording as well as performing. French Impressions offers a full-length example of the Music Theater's recording qualities in performances by an accomplished classical duo.
The Music Instrument Museum (MIM) opened in April 2010 in Phoenix and was founded by retired CEO of Target Bob Ulrich. At launch it housed over 10,000 instruments with the goal of representing every country in the world including such instruments as:
"Mexican turtle shells played with antler beaters; a 19th-century giant 'Octabass' (a bass fiddle so large that...it requires the player to stand on a chair while wielding a gigantic bow) from Europe; a gourd-resonated xylophone from Burkina Faso; and a several-foot-long ceremonial Hausa trumpet from Nigeria, made of recycled food cans. Then, add to those the Steinway piano on which John Lennon composed 'Imagine.'"
The MIM Music Theater seats an audience of 300 and according to the MIM's announcement, "was designed to be an optimal recording space, with its acoustics, top-of-the-line recording equipment, and handpicked instruments including a Steinway Model D grand concert piano that has been voiced especially for the space."
Musical Instrument Museum (Music Theater at 1:44)
In November 2010, Grammy-winning violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk recorded French Impressions, an album which was released earlier this week on Sony Classical. French Impressions features works by Saint-Saens, Ravel and Franck. Bell states:
"French Impressions is the culmination of my last decade of exploration and performance with pianist Jeremy Denk, and I hope that with this recording we can affect the listener with the same joy and spiritual enrichment that these masterpieces have provided us over the years."
Producer Steven Epstein was quoted in the announcement regarding the space:
"The goal for any producer is to find a venue that has suitable acoustics and also makes the artist feel as comfortable as possible...The MIM Music Theater has the perfect balance of those elements and was the ideal location for Joshua and Jeremy's collaboration."
The MIM Music Theater includes a "Yamaha Recording Custom drum kit, Fender Deluxe Reverb 1965 Reissue, Vox AC30 Heritage H2, and a selection of microphones that rival other top-rated theater facilities."