7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Kudos and some masterful words of critic Mark Swed,
This review is from: Salonen: Out of Nowhere Violin Concerto - Nyx (Audio CD)
Having been present at the premiere of this extraordinary new work for violin and orchestra by Esa-Pekka Salonen and like the rest of the audience being swept away not only by the incredible orchestral palette and intricate orchestration but also by the sheer virtuosity of the solo work by Leila Josefowicz, there probably is no finer response in words than those of LA Times critic Mark Swed: they deserve to be quoted here. `Esa-Pekka Salonen's violin concerto is pure, euphoric poetry with a singular sound and voice. He writes in his notes that the score is a portrait of his young soloist, Leila Josefowicz, who gives an astonishingly virtuosic and visceral performance from memory. He also calls the work a private narrative, a summary of his experiences as a musician and human being at "the watershed age of 50." The concerto lasts 31 minutes and is in four unusual movements. The first is called "Mirage." The fluid violin solos have enough scale passages and arpeggios to make Philip Glass happy, something that would have horrified a young Salonen and may well still horrify some of his European colleagues. The soloist saws away, but the orchestral texture is exceptionally sparse at first - a single chord in the celesta, a note on the harp, a ping of percussion. Josefowicz is a force of nature who gradually sweeps up the orchestra along with her. Winds and percussion amplify her brilliant lines. The strings do sometimes as well, but more often back her up with glowing chords. The interplay is dynamic, but it is also sonic. Salonen knows exactly what rings and how in the hall. Harmony is his concern in this movement, and his chords are recognizably his, but they are also, at least to mind, the signature of the hall. The job for future musicologists will be to find period instruments and acoustics to reproduce these sounds when played in other environments. The two middle movements -- "Pulse I" and "Pulse II" - are, obviously, rhythm-centric. In the first, slightly different pulses from the timpani and the solo violin interact. Salonen describes the mood as that of two lovers quietly in bed. They can hear their hearts beat. Strings shimmer. "Pulse II" is loud, fast, complex and raucous. Salonen has, for the first time, added a drum kit to his percussion arsenal. Josefowicz shimmied and gave the orchestra sass. The writing here is extraordinarily difficult, and she was on fire. Finally, "Adieu" -- a slow, extended adagio -- is time for melody. There is a big climax, but most of the time the orchestra is in the background and the violin sings. Traces of John Adams' wandering long lines can be found in her irregularly unfolding tunes. Mahler's last movement adagios also come to my mind where the music is far too inventive to ever become maudlin.'
The recording here with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra meets the high standard of that premiere experience. The concerto is punctuate with the alluring Nyx by Salonen - a perfect companion piece for this recording. Of note, Esa-Pekka Salonen's Violin Concerto has won the 2012 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. The award is generally considered the most prestigious international honor for a new score; past winners have been several such masters of modern music as Witold Lutoslawski, György Ligeti and Pierre Boulez. This then is a timely release and the introduction to many of a violin concerto that will likely become part of the repertoire of orchestras around the world. Grady Harp, October 12