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David Robertson and The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra are getting their act together and taking it on the road to sunny California this week and next, with appearances in Aliso Viejo, Palm Desert, Berkeley, and Los Angeles, January 27 through February 2. If what I saw in Powell Hall Saturday night is any indication, they're going to take the West Coast by storm.

This weekend is a busy one for David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony, with regular subscription concerts yesterday morning and tonight and another enjoyable Whitaker Foundation-sponsored "Music You Know" concert last night.

The second and more substantial half of this weekend's St. Louis Symphony double bill consists of only two works: John Adams's "Saxophone Concerto," which the SLSO recorded in 2014, and Mahler's powerful "Symphony No. 5," which hasn't been heard here since 2009.

It's another two-for-one sale at Powell Hall this Friday and Saturday as David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony present "Music You Know: Romantic Favorites" on Friday night, and major works by John Adams and Mahler Friday morning and Saturday night. I'll talk about the second program in another article.

America's bicentennial sparked a lot of activity on the classical music scene, including special concerts, new commissioned works, and even a record label (New World) dedicated to American music, past and present. One of the more unusual commissioned works, though, came not from an American composer but from a Frenchman. It was "Des canyons aux étoiles..." ("From the Canyons to the Stars...") by Olivier Messiaen, and it's getting its local premiere this Saturday by David Robertson and the SLSO.

This weekend the St. Louis Symphony is repeating what is starting to look like a holiday tradition with a celebration of the film music of John Williams, conducted by maestro David Robertson. If it's anything like previous programs of Williams's music, it will certainly make a joyful noise — and isn't that largely what the season is all about?

Variety was the order of the day Friday night as the St. Louis Symphony livened up the Thanksgiving weekend with classical favorites by Prokofiev and the local premiere of a new contrabass concerto by Chinese composer Tan Dun in a stunning performance by SLSO Principal Double Bass Erik Harris.

David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony have a heavily lupine program for you this weekend, with Prokofiev's musical fairy tale "Peter and the Wolf" (in a collaboration with Webster University) as well as Tan Dun's new contrabass concerto, subtitled "The Wolf." There's also music from "The Snow Maiden," a fairy tale opera by Rimsky-Korsakov, along with one of Prokofiev's most popular pieces, "Symphony No. 1," Op. 25 ("Classical").

I have become quite a fan of the St. Louis Symphony's periodic "Music You Know" concerts, sponsored by the Whitaker Foundation. The series got off to a rocky start last November but quickly righted itself this past March. As David Robertson and the orchestra clearly demonstrated at this past Friday's concert, the series has settled into a very polished and pleasing groove.

Old and new, borrowed and blue--all the elements are there in the St. Louis Symphony's evening of Brett Dean's "Lost Art of Letter Writing" and Brahms' "Symphony No. 1".

Published in Reviews
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