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Subscription Concerts 2022-2023Program C
No. 1984 Subscription (Program C)


Saint-Saëns / Piano Concerto No. 5 F Major Op. 103, The Egyptian

Born in Paris, Saint-Saëns was an uncommon musical genius wearing several hats as a pianist, organist, composer, conductor and critic. Furthermore, the superhuman was well versed in astronomy, languages, mathematics, archaeology and so on. This natural curiosity also let him
frequently depart for distant places around the world. His favorite destination was Algeria, then a French colony, and he sometimes went a little way further to Egypt.
Saint-Saëns' fifth and last piano concerto was composed in 1896 while he was staying in Luxor, Egypt. It was premiered the same year by the sixty-one-year-old composer as the soloist during the successful concert at the Salle Pleyel in Paris celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of his pianist debut there. The work is thus a witness to the stunning virtuosity and stamina this phenomenal pianist maintained at the time, yet the first sonata movement commences reservedly with the unadorned, chorale-style first theme on the piano. The solo part soon begins to hum with pianistic runs before the tenser D-minor second theme appears. The concerto's byname, not by Saint-Saëns himself though, came from orientalism — in its broadest sense — prevailing the second movement. From its beginning, our composertraveler makes lavish use of exotic intervals to create a Spanish and Middle-eastern mood. The dulcet air crooned during the middle section is reminiscent of boatmen singing a Nubian love song Saint-Saëns heard while sailing the Nile. Then some habitants of this famous river, frogs and crickets, are musically depicted. Before the main section returns, we even hear a sound evocative of Javanese gamelan. Away from the exoticism, the finale, a quasi-acrobatic
toccata teemed with pianistic feats, closes the work at the height of its feverishness.
[Kumiko Nishi]

Franck / Symphony D Minor

19th-century France fussed over the opera and ballet, while long minimizing the nonprogrammatic symphony. A turning point was the 1871 defeat at the Franco-German War: the rising nationalism pushed domestic composers to create French masterpieces comparable to German symphonic achievements, Saint-Saëns' Symphony with Organ (premiered in 1886) being in the vanguard. A most representative of this tide is Franck's Symphony in D minor (premiered in 1889) ironically, as he was from Belgium — born in Liège to a German/Walloon couple to be active in Paris later —, and also the contemporary French music world held him in slight esteem. The mainstream condemned the Symphony in D minor at the first performance in Paris, although his fervent partisans called "Franckists" praised it.
Franck's style is indeed readily differentiated from the typical French composers'. On the model of Bach, Beethoven, Liszt and Wagner, Franck acquired a sort of Austro-Germanic logic and rigor to gain his own style. Moreover, his expertise as a church organist — namely as an improviser — is definitely connected with his thick, massive orchestral sound and constant harmonic change. All of these qualities are integrated in the Symphony in D minor written in his closing years.
The work takes a cyclic form, Franck's hallmark: at the beginning of the first sonata movement, low strings present a questioning cyclic motif which would recur throughout the entire piece to unify it. This motif might imply Beethoven's last string quartet, more concretely its motif accompanied by the phrase "Muss es sein (Must it be) ?" The middle movement inventively combines a traditional slow movement (section A) and scherzo (B) in A–B–A&B form. Its opening melancholic tune by English horn contains the cyclic motif, and this tune reappears as the second theme of the finale which recalls the previous movements' main themes "as in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony" (according to Franck). Interestingly enough, Guy Ropartz, Franck's pupil, named the finale's songful first theme given by cellos and bassoon the "theme of rejoicing."
[Kumiko Nishi]

*This concert will have a duration of 60 to 80 minutes without an interval.


Fabio Luisi ConductorFabio Luisi

Fabio Luisi hails from Genoa. He is the Principal Conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and the Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. In September 2022, he assumed the position of Chief Conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo.
Fabio Luisi was Principal Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, General Music Director of the Opernhaus Zürich, Principal Conductor of the Wiener Symphoniker, as well as General Music Director of the Staatskapelle Dresden and the Sächsische Staatsoper, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, and Music Director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. He is Music Director of the Festival della Valle d'Itria in Martina Franca (Apulia) and has appeared as guest conductor with numerous renowned ensembles, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Münchener Philharmoniker, the Filarmonica della Scala, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Concertgebouworkest, and the Saito Kinen Orchestra, while also conducting operas at world's major opera houses.
Important recordings include Verdi, Bellini, Schumann, Berlioz, Rachmaninov, Rimsky- Korsakov, Frank Martin, and Franz Schmidt, the largely forgotten Austrian composer. In addition, he has recorded various symphonic poems by Richard Strauss, and a lauded reading of Bruckner's Symphony No. 9 with the Staatskapelle Dresden. His recordings of Wagner's Siegfried and Götterdämmerung with the Metropolitan Opera won Grammy awards.

Pascal Rogé PianoPascal Rogé

Pascal Rogé, the French virtuoso known for his bright, clear sound, and graceful and gleaming performance, will return to the NHK Symphony
Orchestra's subscription concert after a long interval. He was born to a musical family in Paris, and after winning the Long-Thibaud International Competition in 1971, has long been a renowned soloist working with leading orchestras worldwide as well as an outstanding chamber musician. Since his first collaboration with the NHK Symphony Orchestra in 1977 performing Ravel's concerto under the baton of Yuzo Toyama, he has fascinated his fans at the orchestra's subscription concerts by playing works such as Saint-Saëns' 2nd Piano Concerto and Poulenc's Aubade.
Although he has a wide repertoire ranging from classics to contemporary, I assume his specialty may be modern French works. In his collaboration with Fabio Luisi, Saint-Saëns' Piano Concerto No. 5 The Egyptian was chosen. Saint-Saëns, known as a child prodigy like Mozart, was a renowned pianist as well as a prolific composer ranging from instrumental to operatic works and film music. The Egyptian is one of his masterpieces embellished with dazzling technique and stylish sound. Therefore, it is not too much to say that this is exactly the work which will well display Monsieur Rogé's forte.
[Seiko Ito, music critic]

Pre-concert Chamber Music Performance

Pre-concert Chamber Music Performance

Program:Ropartz / Prélude, Marine et Chansons — I. Prélude & III. Chansons


Portrai of Artist
Hiroaki Kanda
Portrai of Artist
Yuki Oshika
Portrai of Artist
Ryo Sasaki
Portrai of Artist
Miho Naka
Portrai of Artist
Risako Hayakawa



Subscription Concerts 2022-2023
Program C

No. 1984 Subscription (Program C)

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No. 1984 Subscription (Program C)

Sunday, Jul 9, 2023 9:00PM - 11:00PM

Program: Saint-Saëns / Piano Concerto No. 5 F Major Op. 103, The Egyptian
Franck / Symphony D Minor

Conductor:Fabio Luisi

Piano:Pascal Rogé

Recorded:May 19, 2023 NHK Hall

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