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Leila Josefowicz Plays Beethoven, Ravel, Salonen, Grey, Messiaen

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
Like pop stars going on tour to promote a new album, classical soloists often make sure to program works from their latest recordings on their recitals. But in the case of violinist Leila Josefowicz, the live recitals came first -- she and pianist John Novacek have already widely performed this group of works -- and the studio recording followed. Perhaps this explains the depth of interpretation and communication between the musicians that makes this release so special. The music ranges from Beethoven to the 21st century, a pleasingly diverse selection. Following a relatively subdued Theme and Variations from early in Olivier Messiaen's career, Maurice Ravel's brilliant...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
Like pop stars going on tour to promote a new album, classical soloists often make sure to program works from their latest recordings on their recitals. But in the case of violinist Leila Josefowicz, the live recitals came first -- she and pianist John Novacek have already widely performed this group of works -- and the studio recording followed. Perhaps this explains the depth of interpretation and communication between the musicians that makes this release so special. The music ranges from Beethoven to the 21st century, a pleasingly diverse selection. Following a relatively subdued Theme and Variations from early in Olivier Messiaen's career, Maurice Ravel's brilliant Violin Sonata is the centerpiece of the first disc. Josefowicz makes the most of the scoops, slides, and strums of its second-movement "Blues" -- a nice pendant to the jazz-inflected works on her Americana album. Mark Grey's engaging San Andreas Suite follows, the first of two world-premiere recordings here, both for unaccompanied solo violin. Like the Ravel, this work touches on jazz influences but builds to a culminating "Eruption" that derives its unbridled energy from rock instead. The second disc of Josefowicz's recital is more serious but no less enjoyable. Esa-Pekka Salonen's Lachen verlernt the second premiere recording is an eloquent essay for the soloist and a perfect lead-in to the profundity of Beethoven's Violin Sonata No. 10. Josefowicz's technical brilliance alone wouldn't suffice to pull off such a varied program; it's also the intelligence, maturity, and passion -- qualities audible in her playing at every juncture -- that hold it together so well. In all, it confirms that this onetime teenage prodigy has successfully weathered the transition to adult virtuoso while developing a very personal musical vision in the process.
All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
After eight releases, in 2002 Leila Josefowicz bade farewell to her longtime label Philips and it took three years for her to re-emerge with another high-profile label, this time Warner Classics. Her first release thereon is the two-disc Leila Josefowicz Plays Beethoven, Ravel, Salonen, Grey, Messiaen. Outside of her recording of Messiaen on the demure disc For the End of Time and her work with composer John Adams, Josefowicz's recordings have remained rather mainstream in terms of literature. With Leila Josefowicz Plays, on which she is partnered with pianist John Novacek, Josefowicz steps out a bit with more Olivier Messaien and two new works written for her by composers Mark Grey and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Josefowicz's is a rather small voice -- her violin never rises to a full fortissimo and in the Ravel "Violin Sonata in G major" she has some trouble being heard in relation to Novacek's full-bodied piano accompaniment. However, it is a very pure and expressive tone that has matured considerably in direct comparison to the earliest work she did for Philips. In Messiaen's early "Theme and Variations," Josefowicz's transparency of tone works well for the vaguely spiritual and transcendent nature of Messiaen's music. The new works are both for solo violin: Grey's "Sam Andreas Suite" brims with the salty air and foliage found on the California coastline -- New York critics might hate it, but it is a very attractive piece of music. Josefowicz is extremely lucky to have approached conductor/composer Salonen when she did, because he has responded to her commission with one of his finest creations. "Lachen verlernt" is a fluid, continuous gesture that weaves a spider-web-thin line between the peripheries of the abstract and the emotional, and is perfectly suited to the specific talent of Josefowicz. By way of an encore, Josefowicz dispatches the Brahms "C minor F.A.E. Sonata Scherzo" in a rambunctious and energetic performance that is a lot of fun. Leila Josefowicz Plays is two discs rather than one, and by anyone's measure it's a whole lotta Leila. Nonetheless, it is highly enjoyable throughout, perhaps more so than anything she has done in terms of recordings, well establishing to her peers and her fans that by now Josefowicz is not just another pretty face.
New York Times - David Mermelstein
The two-CD set...serves as a splendid showcase for [Josefowicz's] muscular yet poised fiddling.
Gramophone
What makes the programme worth considering are the solo pieces (both are world premiere recordings) and the expert way Josefowicz negotiates them.

The two-CD set...serves as a splendid showcase for [Josefowicz's] muscular yet poised fiddling.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/26/2005
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • UPC: 825646194827
  • Catalog Number: 61948
  • Sales rank: 265,906

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–6 Theme and Variations, for violin & piano, I/10 - John Novacek & Olivier Messiaen (10:16)
  2. 7–9 Sonata for violin & piano No. 2 in G major - John Novacek & Maurice Ravel (18:32)
  3. 10–12 San Andreas Suite, for solo violin - Mark Grey & Leila Josefowicz (11:49)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Lachen verlernt, for solo violin - Esa-Pekka Salonen & Leila Josefowicz (10:39)
  2. 2–5 Sonata for violin & piano No. 10 in G major ("The Cockcrow"), Op. 96 - John Novacek & Ludwig van Beethoven (29:13)
  3. 3 Scherzo for violin & piano in C minor (third movement of "F-A-E Sonata"), WoO posth. 2 - John Novacek & Johannes Brahms (5:18)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Leila Josefowicz Primary Artist
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