Leila Josefowicz, St. Louis SO, David Robertson – John Adams: Scheherazade.2 (2016)

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Leila Josefowicz, St. Louis SO, David Robertson - John Adams: Scheherazade.2 (2016)

John Adams: Scheherazade.2 (2016)
Leila Josefowicz, violin; St. Louis Symphony Orchestra; David Robertson, conductor

EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~ 224 Mb (incl 5%) | Scans included | Time: 00:47:36
Genre: Classical | Label: Nonesuch | # 7559 79435-1

You’d get differing answers to the question of whether John Adams is America’s greatest living composer, but he’s the one to whom the country turned in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The demand for new work from him has only increased since he achieved senior citizen status. Fortunately, he’s been able to meet that demand with distinctive large-scale works. Consider 2016’s Scheherazade.2, recorded here by the violinist who premiered the work, Leila Josefowicz, with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra under David Robertson. The piece succeeds on several levels. It is, outwardly, as close as Adams has come to writing a big Romantic violin concerto, and it will no doubt be welcomed into the concert repertory as such. Yet go into it more deeply, and it seems less a concerto than – well, what, exactly? Adams calls it a "dramatic symphony." English critic Nick Breckenfield has compared it to Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, with the soloist representing an individual making her way through a series of adventures that may have a threatening tinge. Adams was inspired to write the work after visiting an exhibition in Paris devoted to Scheherazade and the Thousand and One Nights, and the work has a bit of feminist critique woven into its unusual structure. The four movements, traditional in their outer shapes, are each loosely programmatic, and except for the second, "A Long Desire," each presents the heroine under some kind of pressure from male figures. Sample the third movement, "Scheherazade and the Men with Beards," where she seems to be surrounded by a chattering group of religious leaders who disagree among themselves. Scheherazade elbows her way into the discussion at times. Josefowicz’s sharp-edged style is ideal for the work, and the St. Louis Symphony excels in the music’s give and take. Adams has produced at once a worthy successor to the long tradition of Scheherazade pieces in classical music, and one that, as so often with Adams, pokes the tradition in which it works.

Review by James Manheim, Allmusic.com

For most music lovers, the word Scheherazade likely conjures the plush orientalism of Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral tone-poem. John Adams’s Scheherazade.2 (2015) also took inspiration from the Arabian Nights but via an exhibition at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris that, in the composer’s words, detailed ‘the casual brutality toward women that lies at the base of many of these tales [and] the many images of women oppressed or abused or violated that we see today in the news on a daily basis’.

Adams’s ‘dramatic symphony’ does not tell a particular story but rather ‘follows a set of provocative images’. Adams employs a solo violin to represent the resourceful protagonist, as Rimsky-Korsakov did, though here the part is considerably more elaborate. In fact, Adams’s work was written specifically for violinist Leila Josefowicz and often sounds more like a concerto than a symphony or tone-poem – although it’s quite distinct in style and tone from Adams’s Violin Concerto.

Scheherazade.2 is an expansive, thematically dense and texturally intricate work, and it took me a few listens to begin to grasp its overall structure. Initially, I tried to find my way using the images conjured by the movement titles and the composer’s programme notes, but it wasn’t until I stopped trying to divine an interpretation and simply allowed the music to guide my imagination that it began to pull together. There are exotic elements in the score, certainly (the prominent use of the cimbalom, for example), but these are more for colour than for content. Indeed, there’s an organic quality to the piece’s unfolding that feels closer to Sibelius or early Schoenberg than to Rimsky-Korsakov.

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.

Review by Andrew Farach-Colton, Gramophone

Leila Josefowicz, St. Louis SO, David Robertson - John Adams: Scheherazade.2 (2016)

John Adams at Allmusic
John Adams Website
John Adams at Wiki
Leila Josefowicz, St. Louis SO, David Robertson - John Adams: Scheherazade.2 (2016)

Leila Josefowicz at Allmusic
Leila Josefowicz Website
Leila Josefowicz at Wiki
Leila Josefowicz, St. Louis SO, David Robertson - John Adams: Scheherazade.2 (2016)

David Robertson at Allmusic
David Robertson at Wiki

Tracklist:

01. I. Tale of the Wise Young Woman – Pursuit by the True Believers (15:00)
02. II. A Long Desire (Love Scene) (14:24)
03. III. Scheherazade and the Men with Beards (09:46)
04. IV. Escape, Flight, Sanctuary (08:25)

EAC log
Exact Audio Copy V1.1 from 23. June 2015

EAC extraction logfile from 11. December 2016, 17:49

Leila Josefowicz, St. Louis Symphony, David Robertson / Adams – Scheherazade.2

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Null samples used in CRC calculations : Yes
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Used output format : User Defined Encoder
Selected bitrate : 128 kBit/s
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Command line compressor : C:Program Files (x86)Exact Audio CopyFlacflac.exe
Additional command line options : -V -8 -T "Date=%year%" -T "Genre=%genre%" %source%

TOC of the extracted CD

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1 | 0:00.00 | 15:00.44 | 0 | 67543
2 | 15:00.44 | 14:24.32 | 67544 | 132375
3 | 29:25.01 | 9:46.08 | 132376 | 176333
4 | 39:11.09 | 8:25.24 | 176334 | 214232

Range status and errors

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Filename C:tempAdams – Scheherazade.2Adams – Scheherazade.2.wav

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Test CRC F85BDF7E
Copy CRC F85BDF7E
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AccurateRip summary

Track 1 not present in database
Track 2 not present in database
Track 3 not present in database
Track 4 not present in database

None of the tracks are present in the AccurateRip database

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==== Log checksum 05725B8FC0140457C7A6576E7D8593584EBD2BA1B0FEF559F7161D590560CF2D ====

DR log
foobar2000 1.2 / Dynamic Range Meter 1.1.1
log date: 2016-12-21 02:44:32

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Analyzed: Leila Josefowicz, St. Louis Symphony, David Robertson / Adams – Scheherazade.2
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

DR Peak RMS Duration Track
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
DR17 -1.43 dB -26.72 dB 15:01 01-I. Tale of the Wise Young Woman – Pursuit by the True Believers
DR16 -3.65 dB -26.72 dB 14:24 02-II. A Long Desire (Love Scene)
DR16 -0.49 dB -22.04 dB 9:46 03-III. Scheherazade and the Men with Beards
DR19 -0.50 dB -24.85 dB 8:25 04-IV. Escape, Flight, Sanctuary
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Number of tracks: 4
Official DR value: DR17

Samplerate: 44100 Hz
Channels: 2
Bits per sample: 16
Bitrate: 615 kbps
Codec: FLAC
================================================================================

Leila Josefowicz, St. Louis SO, David Robertson - John Adams: Scheherazade.2 (2016)

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