by Jarrett Hoffman
In some cases, a compelling background or story is at least half the appeal of a piece of music — and John Adams’ Scheherazade.2 certainly tells an interesting tale. But while violinist Leila Josefowicz fully appreciates that side of the concerto, there’s something else she thinks is important to say.
“We can talk endlessly about the narrative of this piece, and what it means, and what it symbolizes,” she said during a recent telephone conversation. “But man, what I really love is that at the end of the day, it’s just a great, great piece of music. Even if it had no narrative, no political agenda, it would still be a total masterwork.”
Josefowicz, for whom Adams wrote Scheherazade.2, will tackle the concerto this week with The Cleveland Orchestra behind her, and Adams himself on the podium to her side. The rest of the program is fascinating too. Adams will take the Orchestra for a Short Ride in a Fast Machine — another of his own works — in addition to leading two pieces by Copland: the Suite from Appalachian Spring (in its 1945 orchestration) and Quiet City, featuring two Cleveland Orchestra members as soloists, principal trumpet Michael Sachs and solo English horn Robert Walters.