I am afraid that this performance of the Beethoven, in spite of several virtues, is simply too underpowered. In addition, there is nothing special about the recording; rather, it makes the orchestra seem like a burly blob that comes in from time to time to disturb Bell's reverie. In the slow movement a bassoon drowns out Bell, who I thought was supposed to be the soloist.
In much of his playing Bell employs a stylistic device that seems to be trendy (Vadim Repin is among the others who do it) but that frustrates me greatly: instead of following through and sustaining a phrase, he lets it drop off toward the end. It's cute, and it defies the normal expectation and is therefore something of a novelty. There is a similar type of phrasing in Baroque music, which is supposed to be historically informed; and it produces a sing-songy, repeatedly-sighing undulation that can almost make one seasick after a while; but fortunately this performance only hints at that more extreme practice. Well, Beethoven was neither a Baroque composer nor prone to sighing, as far as I know; so I don't think the technique works well with his music at all; and it further weakens an already anemic approach to this concerto. Then at the very end of the piece there is a reversal of all the preceding reticence, in which the tempo is broken in order to deliver two emphatic closing chords. Finally, I am somewhat amazed that Joshua Bell's only recording of this is with a third-rate orchestra like the Camerata Salzburg. Maybe when he gets around to recording it with a world-class orchestra, he'll give a world-class performance.
For me the performance lacked necessary tension; but if relaxed is your thing, you might like this; and there are moments of poetry. Bell's playing is accurate (mostly), personal, and gentle; but I am not sure that that last attribute is a very good fit for Beethoven. I do give the interpretation credit for being different; and the cadenzas are interesting, too.
It is certainly desirable to have new performances that make the attempt to say something fresh about well-worn classics; but if you are looking for a first recording of the Beethoven concerto, one of the towering achievements of mankind, my suggestion is to get the Heifetz (with Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony) Heifetz: Beethoven & Brahms Concertos (Beethoven: Concerto for violin in D; Brahms: Violin Concerto in D Op77)--it's a well-deserved classic now more than fifty years old that has been re-issued over and over again in practically every medium that has existed since its original release on tape and LP. Another reviewer on this site makes the case for the "Living Stereo" reissue Beethoven: Violin Concerto; Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto [Hybrid SACD] in which the entire disc is Heifetz/Munch/Boston; and this would be a way to get the same repertoire as on the Bell/Norrington disc. I believe that no library should be without at least one Heifetz recording of all the major violin concertos; but if there is one for which Heifetz is absolutely essential, it is the Beethoven. Heifetz's Mendelssohn is a wonder, of course; but there are many other versions I prefer; so I suggest pairing the Heifetz Beethoven with the Brahms, which I believe, like the Beethoven, benefits from Heifetz's intensity more than the Mendelssohn.
For many of us, one recording of the Beethoven violin concerto cannot possibly say all that needs to be said about the piece; and I would encourage the reader to seek out other performances (of which I'd guess there are easily twenty that surpass the Bell/Norrington). The Stern/Bernstein Beethoven: Violin Concerto, for example, brings out details that are lost at the rather fast tempi that Heifetz takes and that Bell and Norrington simply don't seem to have the energy to deliver.
I have only heard the Beethoven performance from this disc, which I found so disappointing that I felt compelled to write this review. I can easily imagine that the style of these performers suits the Mendelssohn rather better, as many of the reviews on this site point out. I have accordingly given the disc three stars even though the Beethoven performance only deserves two.