When the phrase “inside baseball” pops up in the performing arts, it usually refers to a work that assumes some additional knowledge on the part of the audience in order to be fully appreciated. The jokes in many of the Hoffnung Music Festival recordings, for example, take it for granted that the audience is pretty familiar with the standard classical repertoire.
Former Music Director Leonard Slatkin, who led the St. Louis Symphony during what was possibly its period of highest international visibility, made a triumphant return visit to Powell Hall this weekend. He led the band he referred to as "my family" and glamorous virtuoso pianist Olga Kern in a highly satisfying program. There was a sublime Fratres by Arvo Pärt, starring the symphony strings; rapid-fire Rachmaninov with the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini; and a highly charged reading of Prokofiev's powerful Symphony No. 5. There was even a quirky encore at the end.