Joshua Bell Rules Billboard Classical Chart

Classic Arts News   Joshua Bell Rules Billboard Classical Chart
He may only have made $32 in cash, but Joshua Bell's experiment in busking seems to have paid off in CD sales: his most recent release has hit no. 1 on the latest Billboard classical chart, and he has two compilations in the top 20 as well.

The violinist's 45-minute serenade of commuters in a busy Washington, D.C. Metro station was the occasion for a feature-length article in The Washington Post's Sunday magazine of April 8; since then, the story has been discussed in newspapers and on websites on at least three continents.

No doubt as a result of all this media coverage, Bell's latest CD, Voice of the Violin, which has been languishing for several months in third place on the classical chart behind heavy-hitting releases by Yo-Yo Ma and Sting, has retaken the top slot. And a pair of anthologies — both, as it happens, titled The Essential Joshua Bell, one on Sony Classical and the other on Decca Classics — have made substantial gains. The Decca disc re-entered the chart this week at no. 13, while the Sony release, arrived on the chart just last week, leapt from no. 12 to no. 5.

The chart's longtime leaders, Ma's Appassionato and Sting's John Dowland CD Songs From the Labyrinth, were nudged down to second and third place, with Sting's companion DVD/CD set, The Journey and the Labyrinth: The Music of John Dowland, at no. 4.

There were no new arrivals on the Billboard classical chart this week, but there are half a dozen returnees in addition to the Bell compilation: Sarah Chang's recording of Shostakovich and Prokofiev Violin Concertos (no. 12); Angel Voices, by the London boys' choir Libera (no. 16); Jubilation, a joint recital disc by baritone Jubilant Sykes and guitarist Christopher Parkening (no. 18); the Anonymous 4 collection of early American hymns titled Gloryland (no. 21); Romance, a selection of works for cello and orchestra featuring soloist Han-Na Chang (no. 23); and the Philadelphia Orchestra's recording of music for organ and orchestra (featuring Verizon Hall's new instrument) by Barber, Poulenc and Saint-SaêŠns (no. 24).

There were no new arrivals on the Billboard classical crossover chart, though two titles returned: Places Between: John Williams and John Ethridge Live in Dublin (no. 19) and Siren by Sasha & Shawna (no. 22).

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Broadway album, Showtime!, lost its momentum this week, slipping from third to ninth place — and thereby restoring the crossover top five to its previous equilibrium, with Josh Groban's Awake at no. 1, followed by two titles each by Il Divo and Andrea Bocelli.

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