No. 1956 Subscription
Program A)

Saturday, May 14, 2022
6:00p.m. (Doors open at 5:00p.m.)

Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre  Access Seating chart


  • Schumann / Violin Concerto D Minor

    The untimely final days of Schumann were hard ones. Having suffered from mental illness for years, he jumped into the wintry Rhine River in February 1854, prior to his twoyear confinement in a sanitarium and subsequent passing at age 46. His last original work is the Theme and Variations for piano penned before and after this suicide attempt. Subject to auditory hallucinations, he thought spirits’ voices dictated the "theme" to him, without recalling that he had used it for his Violin Concerto previously.
    The concerto had remained unprinted and unperformed publicly until it was exhumed from over eight decades of sleep in the late 1930s. Schumann wrote it for his friend and violinist Joseph Joachim in the autumn of 1853. However, Schumann’s wife Clara and Joachim chose to conceal it, presumably because they associated it with the composer’s declining mind.
    The work is organized into the classical fast-slow-fast pattern of movements, although Schumann’s writing departs from the standard solo-accompaniment concerto format to approach a "symphony with violin solo" of sorts. The opening movement is in sonata form. Out of the blue, the orchestra gives the dignified first theme in D minor with strong dotted rhythms. The calmer, melodious second theme emerges in F major. The middle movement is a stirring interlude. Its main melody sung by solo violin would be re-used, as mentioned above, for Schumann’s swan song. The rondo-form finale begins without pause after the second movement. The solo violin immediately reveals the expansive recurrent theme above the orchestra’s spring rhythms typical of Polonaise (a Polish traditional dance). The concerto culminates in the affirmative, vigorous ending in D major.

    [Kumiko Nishi]

  • Schubert / Symphony No. 8 C Major D. 944, The Great

    Schubert’s No. 8 was forgotten, too. Moreover, it was Schumann who saved it from oblivion. The story goes back to 1826 when Schubert dedicated it to the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Musikverein Wien) in return for making him a substitute member of its board of representatives. Receiving some honorarium, he attended the closed play-through of the work. Nevertheless, it had stayed buried until 1839 when Schumann visited the deceased composer’s brother in Vienna and dug it up from the relics. The same year, the entire work was first performed publicly by Mendelssohn conducting the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig.
    The subtitle of this masterpiece was posthumously given for convenience in distinction from Schubert’s shorter symphony in the same key (D. 589), a. k. a. Little C major. However, his "Great" symphony obviously deserves this nickname in quantity and quality. Schumann famously praised its "heavenly length" comparing it to Jean Paul’s great mighty novel.
    Many suppose today that The Great was written during the summer of 1825. It is replete with ingenious harmonies and flowing melodies, as is usual with Schubert. The first movement has a significant introduction kicking off with a horn unison, just like the outset of Schumann’s Spring symphony (1841). The energetic crescendo leads to the fast main section in sonata form, which treats the vivacious, dotted first theme (in the principal key) given by strings and the darkish second theme (unconventionally in E minor) by woodwinds. At the end, the opening unison melody resounds as if to come full circle. The next movement has a symmetric structure (A–B–A–B–A). The theme of section A first appears with the melancholic oboe solo, while the restful descending theme of section B is initiated by violins. The third movement, in ternary form (A–B–A), has a graceful trio in waltz time (B) sandwiched by the brisk Scherzo (A). The high-spirited finale in sonata form begins with the fanfare-like first theme in C major, and later comes the melodious second theme in G major. From the start of the development onward, Schubert pays honor to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (1824) by suggesting the Ode to Joy.

    [Kumiko Nishi]

  • Marek Janowski, conductor Marek Janowski, conductor
    Polish-born German conductor Marek Janowski has held important positions with orchestras including the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, and now he is Artistic Director of the Dresdner Philharmonie. It was in September 1985, shortly after his well-known Ring Cycle which he recorded with the Staatskapelle Dresden from 1980 to 1983, that he first appeared with the NHK Symphony Orchestra, to which he returned every few years until 1998.
    He left the operatic works in the 1990s and devoted himself to orchestral repertoire cementing his reputation as a world renowned conductor. Along with Wagner’s major works with the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin from 2010 to 2013 and the Ring Cycle he conducted at the Bayreuth Festival in 2016 and 2017, the impressive performances of his finely constructed Ring Cycle with the NHK Symphony Orchestra started in 2014 at the Spring Festival in Tokyo were a triumph after his return to operatic works, and these prompted him to his regular appearances with the orchestra which is what we most welcome.
    [Mitsunori Eto, music critic]
  • Alena Baeva, violin Alena Baeva, violin
    Alena Baeva from Osh, Kyrgyzstan, won the International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in 2001, and the 1st prize at the Sendai International Violin Competition in 2007. She has been known for her vast repertoire ranging from standard works such as Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto to Szymanowski’s 1st and 2nd Violin Concertos, Shostakovich’s 1st Violin Concerto, as well as works by Karłowicz and Schumann, which are among her discography. She has also shown her interest in period instruments, which led her to work with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century. Her first collaboration with the NHK Symphony Orchestra was under the baton of Paavo Järvi in February 2019 playing Violin Concerto by Richard Strauss. On this appearance we look forward to listening to her performance of Schumann’s Violin Concerto, a work which is not often taken up.
    [Haruo Yamada, music critic]


Tickets go on sale from Wednesday, April 13, 2022 / Ticket for subscriber: Thursday, April 7, 2022

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