"But like the Sultan’s wife who heads off her own death by telling her husband wondrous tales for 1,001 nights, Chen worked some enchantment of her own on the CSO Thursday night. Often performed as a mixture of overly perfumed lyricism and ersatz exoticism, Sheherazade became something much more powerful and intimate. Setting a deliberate rather than rhapsodic pace throughout the work, drawing pristine yet expressive phrasing from the orchestra, Chen transformed the story.
Without losing any of her mysterious aura, Sheherazade became a cool-headed beauty, a worthy adversary to the mighty sultan. Passions ran high in the stories she told. But this self-possessed young woman was smart enough to keep a tight rein on her own passions, which made her all but irresistible. ...Chen’s blending of orchestral forces was equally deft in Mendelssohn’s overture, which runs from sunny evocations of a dappled, free-flowing river to darker eruptions."