The world premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Violin Concerto, one of the more potent orchestral works of recent years, took place in the spring of 2009, during the final weeks of the composer’s epochal, seventeen-year tenure as the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Leila Josefowicz was the soloist. I wrote in my review:
According to a program note, it is a kind of musical memoir, with movements suggesting the wondering gaze of a solitary newcomer (“Mirage”), the late-night reveries of a husband and father (“Pulse I”), urban forays with a rock-and-roll beat (“Pulse II”), and a rich, long goodbye (“Adieu”). Josefowicz had the arduous task of standing in for Salonen’s questing self; out of two hundred and fourteen bars in the first movement, the violinist plays busily for two hundred and two. The up-tempo sections generate heat—at one point, a percussionist is instructed to “go crazy”—but what lingers is the bittersweet lyricism of the ending: the violin floats up into the highest reaches of its range, tuned gongs and a harp spell out a faintly chilling ostinato pattern (ticktock, ticktock), the strings unfold a featherbed of memories, and the orchestra comes to rest on a sweetly dissonant chord. Time is running out, the composer seems to say, and I must be going.
With the kind permission of Deutsche Grammophon, we’re streaming audio of a new recording of the concerto, with Josefowicz reprising the solo part and Salonen conducting the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Click-through to hear the concerto, and more: http://nyr.kr/OomaZg