Susanna Mälkki leads the Concertgebouworkest in works by three very different American composers: Charles Ives, Julia Perry, and John Adams, with the fearless Leila Josefowicz as the soloist in Adams’ Violin Concerto. Besides being a tireless champion of contemporary music, Leila Josefowicz is a great violinist who never shrinks from a challenge.
The Concertgebouworkest has organised all its concert programmes in January to reflect the theme ‘Made in America’. Susanna Mälkki conducts Charles Ives’s Symphony No. 2, a work brimming with familiar and lesser-known melodies. Symphonic collages incorporating popular songs which coloured the memories of his youth in New England, as well as the music of Bach, Beethoven and Wagner prove that Ives was far ahead of his time around 1900.
Julia Perry, too, incorporated the folk music of her youth in her music – in her case mainly African American spirituals. Perry’s career got off to a promising start, but her work eventually faded into oblivion. A Short Piece for Orchestra shows just how undeserved that was: this exciting work showcases a wholly original voice in American music.
In his Violin Concerto, the world-famous American composer John Adams allowed melody back into his rhythmically pulsing music for the first time in years. To say the least! The solo violin keeps stringing one soaring melody to another. Very few violinists are capable of performing this extremely difficult work. Enter Leila Josefowicz: a tireless champion of contemporary music, and above all a great violinist who never shrinks from a challenge.