Scheherazade.2

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John Adams's dramatic symphony Scheherazade.2 imagines a modern day Scheherazade, an "empowered, liberated spirit embodied in the multifaceted solo violin role," he says. His "cinematic music goes a long way in unfolding a potent drama, masterfully illuminated by conductor David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony," says NPR. "The fierceness and vulnerability [violinist] Leila Josefowicz expresses contributes to an award-caliber performance." Scheherazade.2 "sets a whole new standard for narrative and theatrical vibrancy," exclaims the San Francisco Chronicle.

Description

Nonesuch Records releases John Adams' Scheherazade.2 on September 30, 2016. The 50-minute work, which the composer, borrowing a term from Berlioz, calls a "dramatic symphony," was written for the violinist Leila Josefowicz, who has played it with leading orchestras around the world since its 2015 premiere by the New York Philharmonic. The Nonesuch recording was made during February 2016 performances by the St. Louis Symphony led by Music Director David Robertson; Chester Englander is the cimbalom soloist. It is available to pre-order now on iTunes and at nonesuch.com, where CD orders include a download of the complete album available starting on release day. 

The composer was inspired by an exhibition at Paris' Institute du Monde Arabe that included the history and evolution of the "Arabian Nights" folk tales and was particularly struck by the story of Scheherazade. This led him to imagine a modern day Scheherazade, an "empowered, liberated spirit embodied in the multifaceted solo violin role." As he says in his liner note, "The casual brutality toward women that lies at the base of many of these tales prodded me to think about the many images of women oppressed or abused or violated that we see today in the news on a daily basis.

"Thinking about what a Scheherazade in our own time might be brought to mind some famous examples of women under threat for their lives, or women routinely attacked and even executed by religious fanatics in any number of countries," he continues. "The modern images that come to mind certainly aren't exclusive to the Middle East—we see examples, if not quite so graphic nonetheless profoundly disturbing, from everywhere in the world, including in our own country."

With this in mind, Adams created this dramatic symphony, with the solo violin portraying Scheherazade. "While not having an actual story line or plot, the symphony follows a set of provocative images: a beautiful young woman with grit and personal power; a pursuit by 'true believers;' a love scene that is both violent and tender; a scene in which she is tried by a court of religious zealots; and a final 'escape, flight, and sanctuary,'" he says. At the same time, notes the composer, "Scheherazade.2 is also a virtuoso romantic symphony-concerto on the grand scale which acknowledges its predecessors in works by Sibelius, Prokofiev, Bartók, and Berg.

The piece was composed specifically for Josefowicz, with whom Adams collaborated closely during its composition. The violinist, who is a passionate advocate of new music, has given numerous performances of Adams' works—notably his Violin Concerto; his electric violin concerto, The Dharma at Big Sur; and Road Movies, which she recorded for Nonesuch. "I find Leila a perfect embodiment of that kind of empowered strength and energy that a modern Scheherazade would possess," he says of his friend and colleague.

Josefowicz, a 2008 MacArthur fellow, frequently works with leading international composers, orchestras, and conductors. Violin concertos have been written especially for her by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Colin Matthews, and Steven Mackey. Recent highlights from Josefowicz's calendar include performances with the Chicago, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Melbourne symphonies; Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra; the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France; Gürzenich-Orchester Köln; Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich; Filarmonica della Scala, and the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester.

California–born David Robertson celebrates his 12th season as Music Director of the St. Louis (STL) Symphony, which was founded in 1880 and is the second-oldest orchestra in the U.S. During his tenure, Robertson has solidified the STL Symphony's standing as one of the nation's most vital and innovative ensembles. He is known as a champion of contemporary composers, as evidenced by the STL Symphony's strong association with John Adams. Robertson and the STL Symphony's last Nonesuch recording, of Adams' City Noir and Saxophone Concerto, won a 2014 Grammy Award. The label previously released their recording of his Doctor Atomic Symphony and Guide to Strange Places in 2009.

ProductionCredits

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Produced by Friedemann Engelbrecht
Recorded February 19 & 20, 2016, at Powell Hall, St. Louis, MO
Recording Engineer: Richard King
Assistant Engineers: Paul Hennerich, Boris Golynskiy
Postproduction Facilities: Teldex Studio, Berlin
Edited, Mixed, and Mastered by Wolfgang Schiefermair, Julian Schwenkner

Design by John Heiden for SMOG Design
Front Cover Photograph: Shirin Neshat, I Am Its Secret, 1993; RC print & ink (photo taken by Plauto); Copyright Shirin Neshat, Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

Executive Producer: Robert Hurwitz

This recording was underwritten in part by New Music USA.

Scheherazade.2 was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. World Premiere: March 26, 2015, Leila Josefowicz, violin / New York Philharmonic, conducted by Alan Gilbert.

Scheherazade.2 is published by Hendon Music (Boosey & Hawkes).

Nonesuch Selection Number

557170

ns_album_releasedate
Album Status
Artist Name
John Adams
MusicianDetails

MUSICIANS
Leila Josefowicz, violin

St. Louis Symphony
David Robertson, conductor
Chester Englander, cimbalom

Cover Art
UPC/Price
Label
CD+MP3
UPC
075597943450
Label
MP3
Price
9.00
UPC
075597943504
Label
FLAC
Price
10.00
UPC
075597943474
Label
96/24 HD FLAC
Price
14.00
UPC
075597943498
  • 557170

News & Reviews

  • The Metropolitan Opera has announced its 2024–25 season, including the Met premiere of John Adams's latest opera, Antony and Cleopatra, on May 12, 2025. The adaptation of Shakespeare’s drama stars soprano Julia Bullock, following her company debut in Adams’s El Niño this April, as Cleopatra, opposite bass-baritone Gerald Finley’s Antony. Adams himself conducts a new staging by director Elkhanah Pulitzer, who transports the story from ancient Rome to the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1930s. Performances run through June 7, 2025. 

  • “In many ways, John Adams is the quintessential California composer,” Nadia Sirota writes in the introduction to Adams’ audio interview with the California Festival, a statewide initiative showcasing contemporary classical music, including live performances at venues across the state over the past three weeks. Adams, a resident of Northern California since moving there from New England in 1971, talks about his early days in the area and the inspiration behind some of his most influential early works, like Christian Zeal and Activity, Phrygian Gates, Shaker Loops, and Harmonielehre. You can hear what he has to say here.

  • About This Album

    Nonesuch Records releases John Adams' Scheherazade.2 on September 30, 2016. The 50-minute work, which the composer, borrowing a term from Berlioz, calls a "dramatic symphony," was written for the violinist Leila Josefowicz, who has played it with leading orchestras around the world since its 2015 premiere by the New York Philharmonic. The Nonesuch recording was made during February 2016 performances by the St. Louis Symphony led by Music Director David Robertson; Chester Englander is the cimbalom soloist. It is available to pre-order now on iTunes and at nonesuch.com, where CD orders include a download of the complete album available starting on release day. 

    The composer was inspired by an exhibition at Paris' Institute du Monde Arabe that included the history and evolution of the "Arabian Nights" folk tales and was particularly struck by the story of Scheherazade. This led him to imagine a modern day Scheherazade, an "empowered, liberated spirit embodied in the multifaceted solo violin role." As he says in his liner note, "The casual brutality toward women that lies at the base of many of these tales prodded me to think about the many images of women oppressed or abused or violated that we see today in the news on a daily basis.

    "Thinking about what a Scheherazade in our own time might be brought to mind some famous examples of women under threat for their lives, or women routinely attacked and even executed by religious fanatics in any number of countries," he continues. "The modern images that come to mind certainly aren't exclusive to the Middle East—we see examples, if not quite so graphic nonetheless profoundly disturbing, from everywhere in the world, including in our own country."

    With this in mind, Adams created this dramatic symphony, with the solo violin portraying Scheherazade. "While not having an actual story line or plot, the symphony follows a set of provocative images: a beautiful young woman with grit and personal power; a pursuit by 'true believers;' a love scene that is both violent and tender; a scene in which she is tried by a court of religious zealots; and a final 'escape, flight, and sanctuary,'" he says. At the same time, notes the composer, "Scheherazade.2 is also a virtuoso romantic symphony-concerto on the grand scale which acknowledges its predecessors in works by Sibelius, Prokofiev, Bartók, and Berg.

    The piece was composed specifically for Josefowicz, with whom Adams collaborated closely during its composition. The violinist, who is a passionate advocate of new music, has given numerous performances of Adams' works—notably his Violin Concerto; his electric violin concerto, The Dharma at Big Sur; and Road Movies, which she recorded for Nonesuch. "I find Leila a perfect embodiment of that kind of empowered strength and energy that a modern Scheherazade would possess," he says of his friend and colleague.

    Josefowicz, a 2008 MacArthur fellow, frequently works with leading international composers, orchestras, and conductors. Violin concertos have been written especially for her by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Colin Matthews, and Steven Mackey. Recent highlights from Josefowicz's calendar include performances with the Chicago, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Melbourne symphonies; Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra; the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France; Gürzenich-Orchester Köln; Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich; Filarmonica della Scala, and the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester.

    California–born David Robertson celebrates his 12th season as Music Director of the St. Louis (STL) Symphony, which was founded in 1880 and is the second-oldest orchestra in the U.S. During his tenure, Robertson has solidified the STL Symphony's standing as one of the nation's most vital and innovative ensembles. He is known as a champion of contemporary composers, as evidenced by the STL Symphony's strong association with John Adams. Robertson and the STL Symphony's last Nonesuch recording, of Adams' City Noir and Saxophone Concerto, won a 2014 Grammy Award. The label previously released their recording of his Doctor Atomic Symphony and Guide to Strange Places in 2009.

    Credits

    MUSICIANS
    Leila Josefowicz, violin

    St. Louis Symphony
    David Robertson, conductor
    Chester Englander, cimbalom

    PRODUCTION CREDITS
    Produced by Friedemann Engelbrecht
    Recorded February 19 & 20, 2016, at Powell Hall, St. Louis, MO
    Recording Engineer: Richard King
    Assistant Engineers: Paul Hennerich, Boris Golynskiy
    Postproduction Facilities: Teldex Studio, Berlin
    Edited, Mixed, and Mastered by Wolfgang Schiefermair, Julian Schwenkner

    Design by John Heiden for SMOG Design
    Front Cover Photograph: Shirin Neshat, I Am Its Secret, 1993; RC print & ink (photo taken by Plauto); Copyright Shirin Neshat, Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

    Executive Producer: Robert Hurwitz

    This recording was underwritten in part by New Music USA.

    Scheherazade.2 was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. World Premiere: March 26, 2015, Leila Josefowicz, violin / New York Philharmonic, conducted by Alan Gilbert.

    Scheherazade.2 is published by Hendon Music (Boosey & Hawkes).

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