February 2000 -
It really goes against the grain to say uncomplimentary
things about a performance by a prodigiously gifted violinist, above
all in the case of one who distils intelligence, charm and modesty in
describing her aims as a musician. But the rendition of the
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto by Leila Josefowicz on this recording is
so disturbing that one wonders how she or anybody connected with the
Philips team could have allowed it to go out.
Josefowicz's talent that she can do anything on the violin.
Unfortunately, it is precisely "anything" that she does
here. In the opening statement, all semblance of the beautiful tone
that Josefowicz says she is keen to cultivate is ruined by sloppy
fingering and phrasing and by her tendency to give a heavy thump to
accented notes, particularly in the case of the first note of a
triplet. Moreover, she slashes her way into the octaves that close the
passage in a manner quite unworthy of a world-class instrumentalist.
the defects apparent in this passage are a feature of the rest of the
recording, and the Caliban-like stomping of the orchestra under
Dutoit's baton does nothing to help. Just occasionally, in the slow
movement for example, there are glimpses of the beautiful playing of
which Josefowicz is capable, but almost immediately there is a return
to unbalanced phrasing and exaggerated emphasis, so that one is left
perplexed over these inexplicable outbursts of ugliness.
gives an agreeable account of Tchaikovsky's Valse-Scherzo,
heralding the far better things to come in her performance of the
Glazunov Concerto, a splendid work which deserves to be heard more
often. This concerto is, shall we say, a sturdier piece than the
Mendelssohn, and as an exponent of modern powerhouse violin playing,
Josefowicz is far more at home with it. Also, most importantly, she is
clearly at one with the type of musical line that is Glazunov's
trademark. The cadenza of the slow movement has a real feeling of
contemplation and the final allegro is full of fun and joy. Well worth
hearing and certainly a valuable contribution to the recorded
repertoire of violin literature.
Were it not that Josefowicz
has a distinctive tone, a rarity these days, any listener would be led
to wonder if the peformers of the two concertos were really one and
the same person.
Mendelssohn (1809 - 1847): Violin Concerto in E minor, op. 64
Ilych Tchaikovsky (1840 - 1893): Valse-scherzo, op. 34
Glazunov (1865 - 1936): Violin Concerto in A minor, op. 82
Josefowicz, , violin
Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal
PHILIPS 464 059-2 (1999)
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