Bartók • Ysaÿe • Kreisler • Paganini • Ernst

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bartok,Ernst,Kreisler,Paganini,Ysaye
LABELS: Philips
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Leila Josefowicz
WORKS: Solo Violin Sonata; Solo Violin Sonatas, Op. 27/3 & 4
PERFORMER: Leila Josefowicz (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: 446 700-2


Listening to this disc, two things that 19-year-old Josefowicz has said about herself came to mind: firstly, that she is ‘trying to get a lot of different sounds from the violin… it’s a huge undertaking’; secondly, that her hero is Bronislaw Huberman, he of the idiosyncratic technique and explosive temperament. Her playing is exceptional by any standard: she sweeps through Paganini’s ‘Nel cor più mi sento’ variations with the precision of a cutting diamond; in Ernst’s fiendish ‘Erlkönig’ caprice you really can hear the three separate voices of seducer king, father and screaming boy; in the slow movement of Bartók’s Solo Sonata her ghostly harmonics have a porcelain delicacy; everywhere there are gratifying touches of perfection. She is indeed finding the maximum range of colours from her violin, but as if she were still in the laboratory, testing those extremes. Her Bartók has a hardness to it, a lack of flow. I missed the dancing, breathless excitement and animal attack of its dedicatee, Menuhin. It is interesting to compare her Kreisler with Delmoni’s: while his Recitativo has dignity and mystery, hers displays a big tone so forced as to sound scrunched. But her scherzo is thrilling, while his is merely jaunty, slowing down over technical difficulties which she revels in at high speed. Kreisler aside, though, Delmoni’s is a well-programmed disc with some fine playing, particularly the wistful ‘Malinconia’ of the Ysaÿe and a convincing Bach Partita.