Saturday, June 29, 2013
MS&AD SHIRAKAWA Hall
Ichiro Saito (Conductor), Ishikawa Yuji (Cellist)
Kiyoshi Nobutoki: String Quartet (1920), Tokuhide Niimi: “To the Children of the World” from “The Forest Dances” Orchestral Suite (2013), Saburo Takata: Rhapsodies Nos. 1 & 2 (1938), and Abe Komei: Cello Concerto (1938)
Born in Aichi Prefecture, Saburo Takata is well known for his choral works, which are actually said to have an orchestral origin. Appropriate to the fact that Nobutoki was Takata’s instructor, Nobutoki’s String Quartet was performed first. This piece gave each member of the string family a chance to boast powerful melodic lines whilst also maintaining a strong balance in the overall harmony. It received high appraisal for demonstrating the power of simplicity and classicism whilst simultaneously reflecting a modern style with the use of modulations and manipulation of motifs. Niimi’s work is a skillfully constructed modern piece that re-defines the essence of orchestral pieces themselves. The performance generated a rich sound that captured the audience from beginning to end. Takata’s piece was a reconstruction of the score he lost at the time of its premiere due to an air raid. After reconstructing the song himself it was performed again in Tokyo in 2011, and this time, in Nagoya. The vitality of Takata’s work, based on the themes “Kisobushi” and “Oiwake”, is attributable to Saito’s enthusiasm. Cellist Ishikawa Yu gave a standout performance in Abe Komei’s Cello Concerto. It was a clean performance given the difficulties associated with expressing the intricacies of contemporary chamber music. It was a performance of high value that conveyed great energy and passion.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Aichi Prefectural Arts Theater
"It was easy to understand with additions such as a commentary."
Aichi Symphony Orchestra, one of the most avid professional orchestras in the region behind Nagoya Philharmonic, held a concert commemorating 30 years since its establishment. Having initially been inaugurated in 1983 as Nagoya City Orchestra, the orchestra was renamed in 1997 and now performs about 100 times a year, including regular concerts. Originally based in Prague, conductor Leos Svarovsky’s contributions to the orchestra have been wide-ranging. He appointed violinist Machiko Shimada as a soloist who entered the orchestra earlier this year as Guest Concertmaster. Svarovsky will be taking on the role of Musical Director of the Orchestra from April next year. It was a memorable concert filled with many highlights, including a performance from the prelude of Mozart’s Opera “The Abduction from the Seraglio”, which was performed in a smooth and subtle manner under Svarovsky’s direction. Shimada’s performance of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 was brimming with fervor as she depicted a sweet melody which foregrounded an overall well-balanced ensemble. The concert had an added visual element, with commentary and photos associated with each piece displayed in video format at the front of the concert hall. The video commentary surrounding each movement during the last piece, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral” would have made the performance easy to follow even for first-timers. The performances drifted away from Svarovsky’s usual interpretations, which in turn delivered a profound depth to the concert overall. This 30th Anniversary Concert raises interest in the further development of the orchestra.
Music Critic Tomoaki Fujii
Friday, July 18 2014
MS&AD SHIRAKAWA Hall
Leos Svarovsky (Conductor), Yui Hakozaki (Clarinet)
Mendelssohn: Overture from "A Midsummer Night’s Dream", Copland: Clarinet Concerto, Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 "Eroica"
In July, a concert was held to welcome the orchestra’s newly appointed Musical Director Leos Svarovsky. Svarovsky has already performed many times with the Japan Central Symphony Orchestra, and this concert was proof of his pre-existing ties with the orchestra. It was a concert filled with elegant performances overflowing with emotion. The first piece performed was Mendelssohn’s Overture from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, which generated an enchanting atmosphere. This was followed by Copland’s Clarinet Concerto featuring solo clarinetist, Yui Hakozaki. Originally commissioned by Benny Goodman, I was able to enjoy the full charm of the piece with Hakozaki’s subtle yet dynamic performance on clarinet. She produced a smooth tone color and refined melody, which matched in exquisite harmony with the small size orchestra featuring a harp and piano. I felt Svarovsky’s personality shine through in the latter half of the performance of Beethoven’s Symphony, where the two separate elements of sound and structure were incorporated in a sophisticated rather than ostentatious manner. From the relatively serene first movement, to the Funeral March filled with heavy emotion, the well-paced Scherzo, until the vibrant last movement, it was a beautiful performance that was filled with spirit.
Friday, September 26, 2014
MS&AD SHIRAKAWA Hall
This performance was the world premiere of Akira Tamba’s new operatic work "Shiramine". The piece is based on conflict that arises amidst human desire, reflecting the discord that emerged during the Heian period surrounding the succession of the throne. The subtle grace that can be felt in “Shiramine” is a reflection of Tamba’s skillful use of contemporary French music composition techniques and his research into Noh. The fluctuating tone color of the ondes martenot performed by Takahashi Harada and Wakana Ichihashi was effective in thrusting me into an abyss that evoked a sense of anxiety. The Johakyu construction principle of Noh was applied in each of the three movements, making it easy to understand the progression of this story that was filled with emotion. However, it was fairly content-heavy, making it difficult to follow the storyline. This may be the fate of new operas. The chords and interval progressions in the melody sustained a high degree of tension that allowed me to sense the orchestra’s skillful interpretation and manipulation of Tamba’s work. Emperor Sutoku’s (Testuya Ohno, Tenor) passionate performance, Emperor Toba’s (Satoshi Chubachi, Tenor) sarcastic expressions, and Priest Saigyo’s (Hiroaki Otsuka, Baritone) prayer of suffering were all impressive. The chorus of 24 people acted as the Noh chorus seat, and the sound of the female voices in particular exquisitely enhanced the emotion in the prayer of sutra. Tamba’s passion towards Japanese opera has given birth to a monumental work in contemporary Japanese opera.
Friday, May 15, 2015
MS&AD SHIRAKAWA HALL
Ichiro Saito (Conductor), Fumito Terada (Violinist)
Vivaldi: Violin Concerto No. 1 "Spring", Boccherini: Symphony "The House of the Devil", and Berlioz: "Symphonie Fantasqiue"
Ichiro Saito, who served as the regular conductor of the orchestra until March last year, took to the stage. When Saito greeted the audience, it seemed as though the orchestra itself had grown in vitality. The concept of the program was clear and it was an outstanding performance suited to the first of this season. The first performance was Vivaldi’s "Spring". The ensemble appropriately accommodated soloist Fumito Terada’s dynamic expressions to generate a fresh and energetic tune. Next was Boccherini’s Symphony. Although the piece is fairly plain, Saito’s vigor transformed the piece into an enjoyable performance. The consecutive sudden and sharp descents of the melody from the 3rd movement had a theatrical intensity. As expected, Berlioz’s "Symphonie Fantastique" conveyed fierce passion. It centered on the polished string section and also gave presence to each section. All 5 movements were fixed well and developed in detail. It was a performance filled with both explosive and ongoing energy that maintained the audience’s attention till the very end. The performances of the 4th movement, “March to the Scaffold”, and the 5th movement, "Dream of the Night of the Sabbath", were noteworthy for conveying a jovial yet somewhat satirical atmosphere.
Friday, February 6, 2016
MS&AD SHIRAKAWA Hall
Kosuke Tsunoda (Conductor), Hare Ito (Soprano)
Sibelius: "Lemminkainen and the Maidens of the Island" from the Lemminkainen Suite, Mozart: Concert Arias "Chi sa, chi sa, qual sia", "Vado, ma dove?", "Come scoglio immoto resta" from "Cosi fan tutte", and Kosaku Yamada: Symphony "Triumph and Peace"
Born in Nagoya in 1980, Kosuke Tsunoda is a promising young man. Having often co-conducted the Japan Central Symphony Orchestra in the past, in 2014, he was welcomed as a regular conductor of the orchestra. This was his first time on the stage in this role. Tsunoda’s youthful energy was impressive. The first song performed, Sibelius’ "Lemminkainen", overflowed with power. There was a dynamic flow to the overall performance, and each part was well balanced yet filled with pure vivacity and exhilarating brilliance. Next was soprano Hare Ito’s solo performance of three of Mozart’s Arias. Ito can be remembered for her performance as "Taikenmon-in" in last September’s performance of Tamba’s Opera “Shiramine”. Ito’s singing displayed a rich tone color and left a lasting impact. In particular, in "Come scoglio immoto resta", she was able to portray the character well with her exceptional expressions, and the sound of the woodwind instruments blended well with the orchestra allowing the piece to be performed in an eloquent manner. The main performance was Kosaku Yamada’s Symphony "Triumph and Peace". Japan Central Symphony Orchestra is accustomed to working with pieces composed by Japanese composers. Tsunoda is clearly guiding the Japan Central Symphony Orchestra whilst aiming to carefully improve certain aspects. Whilst having a classical and traditional style, the piece had a tinge of a romantic style and Japanese elements. It was an invigorating performance, the result of which no doubt gave rise to its reception in Western music.
Friday, September 30, 2016
Aichi Prefectural Arts Theater
Leos Svarovsky (Conductor), Eva Hornyakova (Soprano), Karla Bytnarova (Mezzo-soprano), Otokar Klein (Tenor), Jozef Benci (Bass), and Dvorak: “Stabat Mater” featuring Nagoya University of Arts Stabat Mater Choir,
It was a performance that made me realize the importance of continuing to walk while keeping my eyes on what’s ahead. Since Svarovsky took on the position of Musical Director of Japan Central Symphony Orchestra last year, they have continuously been performing many of Dvorak’s works. In September’s performance, they took on Dvorak’s masterpiece “Stabat Mater” featuring vocalists. In recent years under Svarovsky’s guidance, the orchestra has put on many impressive performances, playing pieces such as Suk’s “Asrael Symphony” which is rich in deep and profound mourning. It is an orchestra heightening its awareness through various ways and connecting with the original works themselves. This performance showed no faults, with the stability of the soloist’s performance alongside Svarovsky in the total 80 minutes of the religious songs being particularly noteworthy. The Stabat Mater Choir group from Nagoya University of Arts showed much potential, carefully producing a rich tone color. Whilst the orchestra was beautifully well-balanced, the refinement of their weaknesses will no doubt increase the range of their expressions. In particular, I felt that there could be an improvement in generating a greater sense of tension, as some moments of tension often felt more equivalent to tranquility. This will no doubt lead to the further growth of the orchestra.