Hard-boiled detectives in trench coats. Tough-talking dames. Rain-slicked city streets. Dead bodies in sleazy alleys. And smoking — lots and lots of smoking. These are all well-known visual touchstones in film noir. But those movies just wouldn’t be the same without the soundtrack of a wailing, lonely saxophone or a tense piano run. American composer John Adams and the Houston Symphony set the scene with the Adams Conducts Adams performance of City Noir. The symphonic work premiered in 2009, and critic Richard Morrison said Adams’s sonic interpretation was “infused with…seething energies, menace and melodrama” and that the “sardonic relish of urban angst familiar from the hard-bitten tales of Hammett and Chandler seeps through it like a dark stain.” Featured on the piece is saxophonist Timothy McAllister. Also on the bill is Korngold’s Violin Concerto featuring violinist Gil Shaham and Copland’s El Salón México.
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $25 to $124.
Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 2, 2:30 p.m., 2014