John Adams: Scheherazade.2

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John Adams


Leila Josefowicz (violin)

St Louis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Robertson

*** ***

Track Listing:

1. Tale of the Wise Young Woman – Pursuit by the True Believers
2. A Long Desire (Love Scene)
3. Scheherazade and the Men with Beards
4. Escape, Flight, Sanctuary

John Adams was inspired to write "Scheherazade.2" after visiting an exhibit on the history of the Arabian Nights at the Arab World Institute in Paris. According to the score program note, the composer was struck by "the casual brutality toward women that lies at the base of many of these tales" and how women are still oppressed and abused in modern society. He wrote, "In the old tale Scheherazade is the lucky one who, through her endless inventiveness, is able to save her life. But there is not much to celebrate here when one thinks that she is spared simply because of her cleverness and ability to keep on entertaining her warped, murderous husband." Adams continued, "So I was suddenly struck by the idea of a 'dramatic symphony' in which the principal character role is taken by the solo violin—and she would be Scheherazade." The symphony thus follows a loose narrative through "a set of provocative images" about a modern Scheherazade's struggle in a patriarchal society.

"Josefowicz, who has been a champion of the composer’s music for decades, gives a performance here that explains why Adams has such faith in her: suave and sensual, yet assertive and full of longing. The St Louis Symphony play with authority under David Robertson and the recording is beautifully balanced."
- Gramophone