THE STRAD RECOMMENDS
The Strad Issue: June 2018
Description: Beautiful detail and inspirational playing of infectious music
Musicians: Leila Josefowicz (violin), St Louis Symphony Orchestra/David Robertson
Works: ADAMS Violin Concerto
Catalogue Number: NONESUCH PRO 563568
Leila Josefowicz is such a regular collaborator with John Adams that it’s hard to believe she hasn’t recorded his Grawemeyer Award-winning 1993 Violin Concerto before. But this Nonesuch disc with the St Louis Symphony seems to be the first such offering for the Canadian-born violinist. She has spoken of the piece before as the inspiration that confirmed her life’s path of working with composers and performing new music.
It’s a thoroughly appealing piece, in which Adams’s trademark rhythmic drive and sense of fun build to an infectious, percussive power. Josefowicz makes it her own, from the opening bars of the angular, restless and sultry opening through the jazz-inflected delicacy of the first movement.
The drifting, lush textures of the central Chaconne, subtitled ‘Body through which the dream flows’, are beautifully detailed by the orchestra, under the taut direction of David Robertson, and Josefowicz tends to the violin’s soulful, fine-spun melodies with impeccable control. Somehow she lifts the performance to fresh levels of wonder with the ferocious energy of the explosive Toccare, as the violin dances over layers of pounding percussion.
Throughout, the orchestra gives finely honed support, and the immediacy and warmth of the recorded sound at this 2016 live performance all add to the thrill of this rewarding disc.