No. 1961 Subscription
(Program B)

Thursday, June 23, 2022
7:00p.m. (Doors open at 6:20p.m.)

Suntory Hall  Access Seating chart


  • Bach / Suzuki / Passacaglia and Fugue C Minor BWV582

    Understanding the passacaglia and fugue forms is key to grasping today’s rogram. Both were essential composition styles for baroque music that our multitalented Masato Suzuki is especially skilled at. Usually in triple time with a solemn character, passacaglia is a series of uninterrupted variations over a ground bass (a theme persistently repeated in the low voice). Fugue, written in two or more independent voices, is considered a most evolved polyphonic music. It has an intricate schematic form where some subjects (themes) are stated and then developed with a minute, imitative technique.
    The young Bach already showed a stroke of genius when he combined the two forms for his organ solo piece BWV582. Though there are various views, he presumably composed it around 1710, namely in the early days of the period when he was a court organist at Weimar. The first half of BWV582 is a grave passacaglia indicative of Bach’s famous musical Francophilia as he created its eight-bar ground bass extending a four-bar theme from the Christe (Trio en passacaille) of the Messe du deuxième ton by the French composer and organist André Raison (before 1650–1719). Bach’s ground bass is declared by the pedal alone at the beginning. It is followed by the twenty variations full of inspiration, which then lead directly to the fugue in four voices. The main subject and its countersubject, stated at the same time to open the fugue, are both derived from the passacaglia’s ground bass. Bach thus interrelated the two sections with each other with meticulous care.
    Suzuki’s arrangement is sure to be an enjoyable take on this masterpiece for the audience.

    [Kumiko Nishi]

  • Britten / Violin Concerto Op. 15

    Unlike his contemporaries such as John Cage (1912–1992), Britten kept his distance from avant-garde and experimental pursuits, that is the mainstream of the 20th-century classical music world. He instead updated the conventional tonal language relying often on traditional forms, to leave us truly original works.
    Born in England, Britten was absent from Europe between 1939 and 1942 to avoid World War II. His temporary residences were in the North America. Dating from this emigratory period, his Concerto for Violin was completed in the summer 1939 in Canada and premiered the next year in New York. Britten himself slightly revised it later a few times.
    This concerto with a grand passacaglia finale is in three movements performed without pause. The first movement begins with timpani’s three strokes getting louder gradually, answered by cymbal, before the solo violin sings a soaring bittersweet melody. The middle movement, marked Vivace (vivaciously), is a turbulent and sometimes folkloric scherzo where a large crescendo prepares its extended cadenza (violin’s virtuosic solo without orchestra). While the soloist concludes the cadenza singing the soaring melody as a reminiscent of the opening movement, trombones overlap it intoning the passacaglia’s ground bass. Then the final movement unfolds eventful variations of contrasting characters, a most notable of which is a march brought by the exceptional duple meter of this modern passacaglia.

    [Kumiko Nishi]

  • Mozart / Symphony No. 41 C Major K. 551 "Jupiter"

    Completed in 1788, the Jupiter is Mozart’s largest and last symphony with a glorious fugal finale. This byname, not by the composer himself, doesn’t have any programmatic implication but suggests the work’s monumental scale and dignified magnificence compared to Jupiter (Zeus), an ancient Roman god holding supremacy over all deities.
    The opening sonata movement immediately announces the first theme composed of spirited ascending motif and flowing melody. The balmy second theme initially appears in G major with violins. The next slow movement, headed "cantabile (singingly)," is opened by strings utilizing mutes, a devise to make a softer sound. This noble, lyrical music in triple meter with dotted rhythms reminds us of saraband, a dance form preferred by Bach. The third movement is a graceful minuet. Its central trio section foretells, though in a minor key, the main figure of the coming grand finale. In the fourth movement, Mozart brilliantly merges baroque fugue into classical sonata form. It is started with and built upon the so-called "Jupiter theme," a four-note (C–D–F–E) figure originally from a plainchant. After the first theme group is introduced in brief, the strings in four voices suddenly begin a highly elaborate fugue (which is, strictly speaking, a fugato as it’s not an independent fugue piece). The spectacular coda closes the symphony recalling the "Jupiter theme" and other main motifs.

    [Kumiko Nishi]

  • Masato Suzuki, conductor Masato Suzuki, conductor
    Masato Suzuki, who, in recent years, has devoted himself to conducting orchestras, will return to the podium of the NHK Symphony Orchestra after 2019 and 2021. Previously, however, he worked with the orchestra in 2018 and 2019 as an organist.
    He was born in The Hague, the Netherlands, and studied composition at the Tokyo University of the Arts, early music at the graduate school, and then at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague he completed the master’s course of organ with first-class honors degree and improvisation with cum laude. He also studied harpsichord at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. He has been Principal Conductor of the Bach Collegium Japan since September 2018, and in 2020, he became Associate Conductor & Creative Partner of the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra.
    With versatile talent, he serves as Executive Producer of the Chofu International Music Festival, while also being engaged himself in composition and stage direction.
    [Takaakira Aosawa, music critic]
  • Sunao Goko, violin Sunao Goko, violin
    Still at the age of 29, Sunao Goko has already had a long career after making his debut in 2007. Being appointed by the NHK Symphony Orchestra as Guest Assistant Concertmaster on April 1st this year, he is one of Japan’s leading young violinists. He studied in Vienna for an extended period of time. Even in the past one year alone, he was continuously engaged as a soloist to perform hard to deal with concertos including those by Schumann, Berg, Korngold, leaving a vivid impression to the audiences. As indicated by his achievements in receiving the Contemporary Music Award when he won the Tibor Varga International Violin Competition in Switzerland in 2013, he equally excels in interpretation of contemporary works.
    [Takuo Ikeda, music critic]


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

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Ordinary Ticket 8,900 7,400 5,800 4,700 3,700
Youth Ticket 5,500 4,500 3,500 2,500 1,500
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