Conductor James Gaffigan is making his first appearance with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, leading it in Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and works by Oliver Knussen and Theo Verbey. Sergey Prokofiev composed his highly evocative ballet music for Shakespeare’s famous love story Romeo and Juliet in 1935. Because of the difficulty he faced trying to get the work premiered, Prokofiev arranged the original ballet score in two orchestral suites (and later a third) and a set of piano transcriptions. The composer conducted and played the suites as often as he could, and his efforts eventually paid off. His ballet Romeo and Juliet was finally premiered in 1938. That same year, Vladimir Nabokov published Invitation to a Beheading, a grim novel which would inspire Theo Verbey’s colourful orchestral work seventy years later.
Leila Josefowicz made her debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2004 in Knussen’s Violin Concerto, a work which she has performed many times the world over ever since. Now she returns with the same concerto, in which the solo violin seems to balance above an ever changing orchestral soundscape, finally ending up in what has been described as a high-spirited circus act.