When a violinist of Joshua Bell's caliber guests as soloist for a symphony orchestra, he usually presents a few pieces from which the conductor may choose.

If you go Around the World with Joshua Bell and the NSO Where: Filene Center, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, 1645 Trap Road, Vienna When: 8:15 p.m. Thursday Info: $20 to $52; wolftrap.org

Emil de Cou, associate conductor for the National Symphony Orchestra, had been hoping to get Bell to perform Bruch's "Scottish Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 46" and when that piece was chosen for inclusion in the NSO summer concert at Wolf Trap on Thursday, the maestro was thrilled. "Joshua was with us at Wolf Trap five years ago [when] he played Tchaikovsky's 'Violin Concerto' and he was absolutely brilliant," de Cou said. "He's a generous colleague -- there is no pretense about him."

With Bell and the "Scottish Fantasy," de Cou decided to build an entire program around the piece and added Gershwin's "Cuban Overture," Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" and "Feste Romane" [Roman Festivals] by Respighi.

A natural theme is present in the program's title -- "Around the World with Joshua Bell and the NSO."

"It's a very eclectic and musical buffet," de Cou said. "The [Fantasy] is so steeped in Scottish folk music and dance rhythms [and] Gershwin was a natural because he heard Havana jazz bands playing the rumbas and included them in his 'Cuban Overture.' "

In choosing the "Hungarian Rhapsody," de Cou has used Stokowski's signature arrangement played since the 1920s, calling it "larger than life."

Finally, the "Roman Festivals," the last of three big tone poems written by Respighi, presents itself as an unparalleled grand finale to a very emotional, romantic program.

"For the [Respighi] we use six percussion pieces, two pianos, two harps, an organ and additional brass," de Cou noted. "It's over the top; it sounds like music from a Cecil B. DeMille epic."

In this program of very emotional, photo-descriptive music that tends to remind audiences of film scores that set the standard for the Hollywood sound, Bell's genius flies in the face of the delightful folk piece that was the concert's inspiration.

"I love this orchestra," Bell said in reference to the NSO. "Every time I come here, it's a very special thing. They've always been a great major orchestra, but they seem to be getting, I think, better and better. It's wonderful!"