Scheherazade.2 is not your storytelling heroine who pacifies her murderous Sultan husband with 1,001 nightly narratives. She is a woman warrior, which was made dramatically clear by Leila Josefowicz’s performance of John Adams’ violin symphony Friday morning at Powell Hall. The first movement of the work left me breathless (I know this is a cliche, but I truly had to remind myself to breathe). The second movement began with the orchestra on its own, with Josefowicz standing center stage as if she was ready to take on all comers. It’s an astonishing piece, an astonishing performance, with brutal phrases, stabbing gestures, and in the fourth and final movement an ultimate stillness that again caught my breath. They do it all again Saturday night. Go!
Thanks to second violin Becky Boyer Hall for the photos.
John Adams has been in Powell Hall observing rehearsals of his Scheherazade.2, with Leila Josefowicz as soloist in this mind-blowing violin symphony. Nonesuch Records is here too, recording the Friday and Saturday performances for future release.
With Adams on the scene thoughts of the recent California Tour are not too distant. His Saxophone Concerto, with soloist Timothy McAllister, was a big hit on the tour. In Berkeley and L.A. the Symphony performed Messiaen’s From the Canyons to the Stars…, with pianist Peter Henderson and Principal Horn Roger Kaza receiving high praise from the critics for performing their difficult solo parts with such wondrous musicality. Alex Ross of The New Yorker was one of those critics. He was so taken with Kaza’s performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall that he solicited the hornist to share–for Ross’ indispensible blog therestisnoise–his story of playing From the Canyons extraordinary solo movement while on a float trip in the Grand Canyon.
Read Kaza’s story and link to Ross’ review of the St. Louis Symphony’s Messiaen concert in L.A. Click.
The St. Louis Symphony 2016-2017 season was announced on Tuesday morning. You can read all about it and see a video of David Robertson talking about the new season by visiting the Symphony homepage.
One of the things that is always exciting about a new St. Louis Symphony season with David Robertson is the anticipation of what sorts of new sounds you might hear. A radio cantata by Kurt Weill, The Flight of Lindbergh, opens 2016-17, for example. Or consider what the Symphony performs this week, John Adams’ Scheherazade.2, a symphony for violin performed by Leila Josefowicz. During a break in rehearsal on Tuesday afternoon, Josefowicz and Chester Englander worked on their violin/cimbalom duet. How cool is that?
Anna Kuwabara, VP for Operations, returned to St. Louis with the X group so she could oversee the logistics of the concerts featuring music by Bach, Dvorak and Latvian composer Peteris Vasks this weekend. She gave me some first-thought highlights of the tour she experienced. “Most wonderful to me is how the orchestra members go out and find all these great restaurants,” she told me. “Din Tai Fung is this dumpling place in Costa Mesa, and I thought I was special in finding it, but many of the orchestra members had already been there.”
“At Soka … it’s an unusual hall shape–the audience is really close. I felt I was sitting in Tim McAllister’s saxophone, and it was wonderful.
“I was backstage for the last Adams-Mahler concert in Berkeley. The ovation went on for a very long time. Deborah O’Grady and John Adams both came to the concert, and John got to come up and take a bow after the concerto.”
Good news on the eve of the California tour: Carnegie Hall announced its 2016-17 season today, and the St. Louis Symphony is a part of it. John Adams’ oratorio Gospel According to the Other Mary appears on the Carnegie stage March 31, 2017. David Robertson conducts the Symphony and the St. Louis Symphony Chorus, under the direction of Amy Kaiser, for this concert that is part of Adams’ 70th birthday celebration. Mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor joins the company, reprising the title role that Adams wrote for her. For the Carnegie site: click.
The Nonesuch CD of David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony performing John Adams’ City Noir and Saxophone Concerto, with soloist Tim McAllister–recorded live at Powell Hall–releases Tuesday. You can get it wherever you get your records. You can already pre-order it from those same places.
There are dual covers, both with images by Weegee. Everybody will see the City Noir side. I’ll show you the sexy Saxophone Concerto side.