Critic’s Choice

Wed Mar 01, 2017 at 1:43 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Leila Josefowicz

Leila Josefowicz

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has earned a fair amount of justified criticism for its safety-first programming in the Riccardo Muti era, with its rare forays into 21st-century music feeling obligatory.

But the next few months will bring an array of new works to Orchestra Hall, most notably the world premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Cello Concerto with Yo-Yo Ma as soloist next week.

First up this week, Salonen will lead the CSO in the Chicago premiere of John Adams’ Scheherazade 2.0 with soloist Leila Josefowicz. Last fall in Berlin I caught Josefowicz’s performance of Adams’ latest violin concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by the composer, and Scheherazade 2.0 impresses as  one of Adams’ strongest works of recent years.

The concerto will be framed by Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and close with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday and Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Symphony Center.; 312-294-3000.


The St. Petersburg Philharmonic returns Sunday with two large-scale works. Music director Yuri Temirkanov leads the celebrated Russian ensemble in Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 with soloist Nikolai Lugansky. Concert time is 7 p.m. Sunday at Symphony Center.; 312-294-3000.

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