John Adams, ‘Scheherazade.2’ review

David Robertson
San Francisco Chronicle

The composer’s latest work for violin and orchestra — he calls it a “dramatic symphony,” but surely “concerto” is also not far from the mark — sets a whole new standard for narrative and theatrical vibrancy. The orchestral writing, which features a key role for the cimbalom, or hammered dulcimer, is as detailed and colorful as anything Adams has written, and the solo part combines virtuosity and tenderness in equal measure. Yet what’s most striking in this four-movement score is the way Adams both masters and subverts traditional ideas about musical form and tone-painting.
Leila Josefowicz, who premiered the piece last year and is scheduled to perform it in February with the San Francisco Symphony, is a magnificent soloist, and David Robertson elicits powerful playing from the St. Louis Symphony.