Superheroine

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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!

A hug following the Thursday rehearsal: David Robertson, Leila Josefowicz, John Adams
A hug following the Thursday rehearsal: David Robertson, Leila Josefowicz, John Adams
A very happy trio
A very happy trio

Thanks to second violin Becky Boyer Hall for the photos.

Canyons in the Canyon

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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.

Roger Kaza in Grand Canyon
Roger Kaza plays Messiaen in the Grand Canyon

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.

New Season, New Sounds

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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.

Chester Englander, cimbalom; Leila Josefowicz, violin
Chester Englander, cimbalom; Leila Josefowicz, violin

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?