Musical Healing Part 2

The prospect of seeing and hearing the St. Louis Symphony, the country’s second oldest, would ordinarily be a must for fans of adventurous orchestral music. In these extraordinary times there was an extra electricity in the air in anticipation of their CAMA Santa Barbara appearance this week. The program was varied with moments of turbulence and moments of sublime beauty. “Powder Her Face Suite” by Thomas Adès began the evening  with a crazy bang, not surprising given that it is based on an opera about the life of an English Duchess after a tabloid-worthy sex scandal. Full of swirling dissonances and sudden burst of energy, it struck me as humorous at times, sort of like laughing in the face of a disaster, but ending with a premonition of death. Maestro David Robertson and the orchestra made what might have been a somewhat difficult to listen to piece seem vigorously attuned to Santa Barbara’s recent travails. For a more sublime catharsis, Augustin Hadelich gave us Benjamin Britten’s Violin Concerto, OP 15 with achingly beautiful and technically superb playing, sensitively aided and abetted by this justly acclaimed orchestra. It all came together for an emotionally charged and beautiful evening of musical release.