Violinist Leila Josefowicz brings intensity to John Adams' 'Sheherazade.2'

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

By John Huxhold

Josefowicz was her typical animated, virtuoso self, standing for nearly an hour, and playing the complicated score from memory. She stormed through thorny passages without breaking a sweat and became tender or aggressive as the score demanded. Conductor David Robertson and the orchestra (with Chester Englander doing an expert turn on the cimbalom) were at home in this complicated score, sometimes juxtaposed to the violin as a foil, sometimes providing an atmospheric backdrop for it, and at other times being a strong antagonist.

Nonesuch Records is recording “Scheherazade.2” live this weekend; eventually it will be joining the symphony’s two other Adams CDs — the Grammy-winning “City Noir” (coupled with his “Saxophone Concerto”) and the “Dr. Atomic” Symphony.”

The first half of the concert was the beginning of the SLSO’s “Shakespeare Festival” programming, opening with a sparkling performance of Berlioz’s “Overture to Beatrix and Benedict.” Before intermission there were excerpts from incidental music for “The Tempest” by Sibelius, interspersed with spoken dialogue from the play performed by four costumed members of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. 

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