Leila Josefowicz is riding high. Last year, at the tender age of 30, the violinist was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant. Two weeks ago, she performed a concerto written especially for her by the conductor/composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, culminating his 17-year tenure as the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Josefowicz’s arrival in Minneapolis, to perform Max Bruch’s Concerto No. 1 Thursday morning and Friday and Saturday nights with the Minnesota Orchestra, isn’t exactly a comedown from her concerto premiere in Los Angeles, which earned her a feature profile in the Wall Street Journal and reviews in the Times in New York as well as Los Angeles. The Bruch concerto is a virtuoso violinist’s dream, with a vast array of moods, tempos and emotions in the opening prelude, a sophisticated, yet gypsy-style ruckus to please the crowds in the third movement, and a slow, bittersweet second movement that most scholars consider the soulful heart of the composition.
The piece is far and away the most compelling work Bruch ever composed, and is justifiably renowned as an integral piece in the solo violin and orchestra repertoire. Watch Josefowicz perform it in four sections, here, here, here and here. After the performance, she is interviewed about it, by a commentator who earlier had described Josefowicz as having “the face of a perfume campaign.”
Preceding the Bruch, the orchestra will perform selections from Sergei Prokofiev’s orchestral suites for the ill-fortuned ballet based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Keeping with a theme of name-paired romantic works, conductor Mischa Santora will bring the orchestra back after intermission for parts of the Richard Wagner opera “Tristan and Isolde” (the Prelude and Liebestod) and Maurice Ravel’s ballet “Daphne and Chloe” (Suite No. 2).
Leila Josefowicz performing Bruch with the Minnesota Orchestra at Orchestra Hall, Thursday, April 23, at 11 a.m., tickets $21-$55; and Friday and Saturday, April 24 and 25, at 8 p.m., tickets $25-$83.