André Previn and the NHK
March 18, 2011
Flash version here
as told to Lucie Renaud
My relationship with the NHK goes back quite a while—eight years ago,
I would say. I've gone back fairly regularly since and they made me
principal guest conductor, a position I will continue to hold for the
next three years. I am enjoying it very much, it's a wonderful orchestra.
It's by far the best of the Asian orchestras and really has become a
world-class organization now.
When you are a conductor and you
conduct great orchestras, like the Berlin Philharmonic or the Boston
Symphony or the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, you try to bring forth
works that may be interesting and that the orchestra might enjoy playing.
I program things that I love with people I like working with.
The big work on the program is
of course Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony, a piece I have loved all my life.
It really is a tremendous symphony and, I think, the composer's best.
It is almost an hour long and is particularly brilliantly written for
the orchestra; therefore, when you have a world-class orchestra, it
is a really good piece to play because it really shows everybody off—all
the sections, all the soloists, everybody.
The choice to perform Takemitsu's
Green as well was fairly obvious. He is Japan's most famous composer
and this is Japan's best orchestra. I thought it would be nice that,
as a Japanese orchestra, when we go on tour, we could play a big Japanese
piece. He is a phenomenal composer. This is not one of his longest pieces
but it is wonderfully orchestrated and makes a great impression, I think.
It may not be a piece that people will take to instantly, but I think
they would want to hear it again. When an orchestra is first class,
they owe it to themselves and to the audiences they play for to perform
composers of our time.
But, of course, I couldn't do without
Mozart; he is the world's greatest composer. If I could only take a
few symphonies with me, it probably would be anyone of his last five
and one of Brahms', but as there are so many and you don't always want
the same one, it would be almost impossible to choose.
This will be the first performance
in Montreal both for Previn and the NHK Orchestra. It was founded in
1926 and was first known as the New Symphony Orchestra and then briefly
as the Japan Symphony Orchestra. NHK stands for Nippon Hoso Kyokai (Japan
Broadcasting Corporation). The orchestra presents about 120 concerts
in Japan a year, including 54 subscription concerts at NHK Hall and
Suntory Hall in Tokyo.
Some of the world's most renowned conductors have been associated with
the orchestra through the course of its eighty-year long history, including
Josef Rosenstock, Herbert von Karajan, Ernest Ansermet, Joseph Keilberth,
Charles Dutoit (Music Director Emeritus), Vladimir Ashkenazy (Conductor
Laureate), Wolfgang Sawallisch (Honorary Conductor Laureate), Herbert
Blomstedt (Honorary Conductor), Yuzo Toyama (Permanent Conductor), Tadaaki
Otaka (Permanent Conductor) and André Previn (Principal Guest Conductor).
The third work on the program will
be Strauss' magnificent Four Last Songs, as performed by Dame
Kiri te Kanawa.
March 18 at Place-des-Arts