Leila Josefowicz, a marvelous virtuoso of the violin who, much like Hilary Hahn, is a Curtis Institute graduate and studied with Jascha Brodsky, took a few moments from her busy life as both a violin virtuoso and a mother (now for the 2nd time) to talk about the upcoming release of Esa-Pekka Salonen‘s Violin Concerto that is slated for September. Josefowicz has proven she is a great interpreter of the classics, and lately has become the champion of new works by composers such as John Adams, Thomas Ades and Oliver Knussen to mention a few.
Leila will be performing the Salonen Concerto in concert several times this coming season.
CM: First of all, congrats on the arrival of your second child! Very happy for you! Has having children proven relatively easy to work your career around?
Leila: Thanks on the congrats!! Our little guy, Rex Christopher Borton is now 9 weeks and a very hearty boy. We are very happy. It is always going to be my biggest challenge to balance my two passions, violin and family life. Family life makes me play violin all the better so they come first. But to schedule things intelligently is better for all human beings, not just ones with a family :-)
CM: Can you please talk about the Violin Concerto by Esa-Pekka Salonen? It is a brilliant, powerful work, and it was a pleasure to hear it performed in its entirety. What are your feelings about the piece having been written for you?
Leila: I could write a whole book about the pleasures of working and playing EPS’s concerto. But I’ll say that he and I thought we’d be a good team and the piece would turn out well–in fact its turned out better than we even thought it could. It was such an honor for me that he chose to write the piece for me, it’s a huge inspiration, and always makes me aim for a higher and higher standard. I was so proud that he won the Grawemeyer Award for it! We’ve had do many successes with the piece in concert as well. It’s just a joyous thing all around.
The piece, I think, is very, very unique firstly in form with it ending the Adieu, the expansive slow movement. The other movements are very strong in terms if their own personality, the 3rd being a sort of super high energy night club scene, the second being very meditative and slightly unsettling, and the first being an atmospheric introduction that should be very still in feeling while the tempo is very fast.
Esa-Pekka Salonen: Violin Concerto (IV: Adieu; Leila Josefowicz, violin; Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Salonen conducts; Théâtre du Châtelet, France; 2/6/11)
CM: Can you talk about the recording of the piece in the studio and working with Salonen?
Leila: The recording was very exciting to make. The process of it was very little drama, EPS is very calm and deliberate and concise about everything. He had a very efficient and relaxed way of working. I was playing very hard in front of the mikes, I wanted it to have a completely live feeling. I’m so happy with they it turned out.
CM: It has been so exciting to hear many of these new works by living composers. The Thomas Ades and the Colin Matthews concertos are also wonderful works with some great tension and beauty. How often do you take the initiative and give your take on the direction of the performance of these pieces?
Leila: When a piece is being written for me I try to have a very honest and serious conversation about what kind of piece they are thinking of writing, what kind of form, what kinds of sounds and moods and feelings etc involved… And I also tell them about my preferences and experiences, and tell them my musical strengths. Together then we build a really great piece that highlights our best qualities!
Esa-Pekka Salonen: Lachen Verlernt (excerpt; WQXR Cafe Concert; NY 2011; courtesy of WQXR)