Skip to the main content

  1. Home
  2. Concerts
  3. Subscription Concerts 2023-2024
  4. Program B
  5. No. 2009 Subscription (Program B)

Subscription Concerts 2023-2024Program B
No. 2009 Subscription (Program B)

Suntory Hall
Google Map Seating Chart


Schumann / Genoveva, opera Op. 81—Overture

The German composer Robert Schumann (1810–1856) played a leading role in musical Romanticism. Although opting to be a musician, he took after his bookseller-author father in literary aptitude. Not surprisingly, Schumann’s compositions owe a great deal to literature, the fine examples being Papillons and Kreisleriana for piano respectively inspired by Romantic writers Jean Paul and E. T. A. Hoffmann, not forgetting Szenen aus Goethes Faust (Scenes from Goethe’s Faust) for voices and orchestra. The composer wielded a powerful pen as an influential music critic as well.
Unexpectedly, Genoveva is the sole opera Schumann completed while thinking in vain about over forty literary subjects for his operatic projects. Written in 1847–1848, Genoveva is a product of his Dresden years. (Incidentally, Wagner served as the conductor of the city’s court opera from 1843 to 1849.)
The story, set in the 8th century, features the knight Siegfried (Count of Brabant) and his faithful wife Genoveva. He goes on a crusade leaving her in their palace under the protection of his steward Golo. Genoveva spurns advances of Golo who, now thirsty for revenge, informs Siegfried of Genoveva’s framed-up affair with a servant. After ordering her execution, Siegfried discovers Golo’s intrigue and is reunited with Genoveva who narrowly escaped death. Introducing some of the leitmotifs (recurrent melodies associated with a certain character, emotion, etc.) used in the ensuing opera, the overture in sonata form has the ominous preamble with the violins’ grievous descending melody. The C-major vigorous conclusion foretells the positive outcome of the tragedy.

[Kumiko Nishi]

Schumann / Cello Concerto A Minor Op. 129

A core of the sparse but popular repertories for solo cello and orchestra alongside Haydn’s and Dvořák’s, Robert Schumann (1810–1856)’s Cello Concerto has been praised for its natural, masterly treatment of the solo instrument. It is partly because he was knowledgeable about this instrument as he took cello lessons in his childhood.
Schumann finished the draft of the Cello Concerto in 1850, soon after settling in Düsseldorf as the welcome new municipal music director. This bright moment brought a mental stability for a little while to him who chronically suffered severe — sometimes life- threatening — depression throughout his adult life.
Originally entitled Konzertstück (concert-piece) by the composer himself, the work indeed makes itself conspicuous among the standard 19th-century solo concertos focusing on contrast and even confrontation between solo and orchestra parts. Here the soloist, never technically ostentatious, teams up with the orchestra, the most symbolical example being a duet between the solo cellist and the orchestra’s principal cellist in the slow mellifluous middle movement. Moreover, all the three movements are performed seamlessly without pause, being linked by the recurrent three-chord motif (resounding E–A–C melody) introduced at the outset of the work. Other unconventional features as solo concerto are the first movement’s moderate tempo, its lack of extended orchestral introduction and its absence of cadenza (virtuosic passages performed by soloist usually without orchestra): instead, the lively final movement has a cadenza (yet accompanied) heard immediately before the uplifted A-major ending.

[Kumiko Nishi]

Schumann / Symphony No. 2 C Major Op. 61

Every composition of Robert Schumann (1810–1856) is certainly a landmark achievement in music history. Also, his foresighted devotion as an active critic introduced Chopin, Brahms and other young geniuses straightaway to his contemporaries. Another service we owe to Schumann is that he saved Schubert (1797–1828)’s monumental symphony (The Great D.944) from oblivion and arranged for its first public performance (1839) in Leipzig under Mendelssohn’s baton. This historic event and Schumann’s insightful article about the work led to proper evaluations of the Viennese master.
Schumann attended in December 1845 in Dresden, then his base, a performance of The Great. This is thought to be a source of the irresistible creative impulse for him to set to work on a new composition. Completed thus in 1846, Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 in C major — the same home key as The Great — was premiered the same year in Leipzig under Mendelssohn’s baton as with, again, The Great. (Shortly after, the first and last movements were revised.)
At an early stage of composition, Schumann, who just recovered from a serious nervous breakdown, tells Mendelssohn in a letter that trumpets have been blasting in his head. In truth, the slow opening brass fanfare of the Symphony No. 2 lets “trumpets” persistently resound a dotted motto (a brief motif including an ascending fifth interval: C–G). The lively main sonata section of the first movement immediately recalls this motto, as it is embedded in the principal “galloping” theme with dotted and double-dotted rhythms. The second movement, a wild scherzo unconventionally in duple time, has trumpets and horns grandly blow the motto at the end. The next slow movement in C minor, frequently pointed out to be inspired by J. S. Bach and his contrapuntal style, is the only movement untouched by the motto which recurs repeatedly throughout the symphony. The final movement, a freely treated sonata with an exceptionally extended coda, has a hymn-like climax making the motto return, before timpani powerfully leads the orchestra to the symphony’s jubilant finish.

[Kumiko Nishi]

April 24: Kian Soltani / Persian Fire Dance
April 25: Persian Folk Song / The girl from Shiraz
Cello: Kian Soltani


Christoph Eschenbach ConductorChristoph Eschenbach

The air tightens when Christoph Eschenbach steps onto the podium. With his baton, he depicts works on a grand scale with deep insight, creating an exhilarating impression, however, there is always a sense of tension in the air, shrouding his music with a unique aura.
He started his career spectacularly as a pianist by winning major competitions including the ARD International Music Competition in Munich and the Clara Haskil Piano Competition in the early 1960s, however, since the 1970s, he has gradually shifted his focus into conducting. Until now, he has held key positions to lead the world’s renowned orchestras such as the NDR Sinfonieorchester (currently the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester), the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, and the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, and is scheduled to become Artistic Director of the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra in September 2024.
His first collaboration with the NHK Symphony Orchestra was in 1979 when he was a pianist playing Beethoven concerto under the baton of Günter Wand. In 2017, after an absence of thirty years, he returned to the orchestra as one of the world’s most prominent conductors to conduct works including Brahms symphony. He has revisited the orchestra in 2020 and 2022 to present most intensive performances. So naturally, on this visit as well, he will brilliantly deliver works of Schumann and Bruckner, his favorite composers, to delight his audiences.
Christoph Eschenbach was born in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland) in 1940. He lost his father in the war, and was brought up by his mother’s cousin. He experienced war first hand while growing up with music. As he turned eighty-four this year, the world has become more and more volatile again. I wonder what he will emphasize to us with his music.

[Mitsunori Eto, music critic]

Kian Soltani CelloKian Soltani

Kian Soltani was born to a family of Persian musicians in Bregenz, Austria. He studied under Ivan Monighetti at the Musik-Akademie der Stadt Basel in Switzerland and went on further at the Kronberg Academy in Germany and the International Music Academy in the Principality of Liechtenstein. He served as Principal Cellist in the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra led by Daniel Barenboim, and was the recipient of the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award, and the Leonard Bernstein Award at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in 2017. His recordings with Daniel Barenboim include a collection of Beethoven’s Piano Trios together with Barenboim’s son Michael, and Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Staatskapelle Berlin in 2020. In 23/24 season he is the Focus Artist of Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and shared stages with Wiener Symphoniker, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
Schumann’s Fantasiestücke and Adagio und Allegro in his debut album which he performed with full poetic expression will certainly compel us to hear his Schumann Cello Concerto with a great expectation. This is his first collaboration with the NHK Symphony Orchestra.
He plays ‘The London, ex Boccherini’ Antonio Stradivari cello, loaned to him by the Beares International Violin Society.

[Haruo Yamada, music critic]



Subscription Concerts 2023-2024
Program B

No. 2009 Subscription (Program B)

Suntory Hall
Google Map
Seating Chart

Single Tickets Release Date

Pre-sales for Subscribers:Wednesday, February 28, 2024
*about subscribers

Sale to General Public:Sunday, March 3, 2024

Purchase Tickets


Ordinary Ticket 9,800 8,400 6,700 5,400 4,400
Youth Ticket 4,500 4,000 3,300 2,500 1,800

Seating chart Enlarge Print PDF

*tax included
*Subscribers receive a 10% discount (Available at NHKSO WEB Ticket and N-Kyo Guide)
*For wheelchair-accessible seats, please refer to the N-Kyo Guide

Youth Tickets

Youth Tickets are great options for those of 25 years old and younger

Subscription tickets
Release Date

Mon., July 17, 2023 10:00am
[For Subscribers: Sun., July 9, 2023 10:00am]

For further information and
subscription application


*Repertoire, conductor, soloists and program order are subject to change without notice.
*Pre-school children are not allowed in the concert hall