Dutoit conducts the NHK Symphony Orchestra
Chen Yi: Ge Xu (Antiphony)
Sergei Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto Number 3 in D Minor, opus 30
Igor Stravinsky: Petrushka (1911 version)
Michie Koyama (piano, Rachmaninov), Kyoko Koyama (piano, Stravinsky)
NHK Symphony Orchestra, Charles Dutoit (conductor)
Charles Dutoit has recently been made the music director of the NHK Symphony, Japan's leading orchestra, following an association going back over some 10 years. It is too early to predict how the acclaimed Swiss conductor will use his greatly increased powers at NHK, but it is hoped that he will give the orchestra a new sense of direction, and the public will get some more interesting programming.
Michie Koyama performed the Rachmaninov concerto on the orchestra's November tour of China, and she was playing it for the fourth time in a row on December 4th. She evidently loves the work and communicated her enthusiasm to the audience with confidence and vivacity. Miss Koyama is perhaps better known in Japan (where she has also had a considerable recording career) than outside. She is now in her late thirties. Since the mid-eighties she has been this orchestra's favourite, most frequently appearing, pianist.
Charles Dutoit is something of a Stravinsky specialist and has recorded Petrushka at least twice before (with the LSO and the Montreal SO). His interpretation last week was exciting and captured just the right kind of drollery, but it was also perhaps just a little too cold and hard driven. No doubt the work was intended as a showcase for the orchestra. The winds and brass were indeed excellent, though the string tone was rather dry.
Your reviewer (to his shame) got caught in a traffic jam and missed the opening work by Chen Yi. Ge Xu (Antiphony) was written in 1994 for winds, brass and percussion. It is based on the music of the Zhuang people in Southwest China. It is understood that Miss Chen likes to combine elements of different kinds of Chinese music with that of the west.