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Hidemaro Konoye conducts, Takahiro Sonoda plays Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major
29.01.2011, 23:45

Viscount Hidemaro Konoye (18 November 1898—2 June 1973) was a conductor and composer of classical music in Shōwa period Japan. He was the brother of pre-war Japanese Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe. Konoye was born in Kōjimachi, Tokyo as the younger son of Prince Konoe Atsumaro, scion of one of the Five regent houses of the Fujiwara clan. The Konoe clan traditionally provided gagaku musicians to the Imperial Household, and Hidemaro chose to follow the family’s musical tradition, whereas his older brother Fumimaro went into politics. Konoye attended the Gakushuin Peers School, where he became a close friend of Takashi Inukai. In 1913, he entered the Tokyo University of the Arts, where he specialized in the violin. In 1915, he went to study briefly in Germany to study musical composition, and became a pupil of Kosaku Yamada on his return to Japan. His debut as a conductor was in 1920, with an amateur orchestra led by Toukichi Setoguchi. Konoye returned to Europe for further studies in 1923 in Paris under Vincent d'Indy and Berlin under Franz Schreker. He also studied conducting under Erich Kleiber, and Karl Muck. In 1924, he conducted at the Berlin Philharmonic, and returned to Japan in the fall of the same year. Konoye co-founded the Japan Symphonic Association in 1925, and the following year became conductor of the orchestra. Konoe later founded the New Symphony Orchestra of Tokyo (the present day NHK Symphony Orchestra), and helped mold the orchestra over a 10 year period into an ensemble that was praised as competitive with many of the better orchestras in Europe. Today he is remembered for making the premiere recording of Mahler's Fourth Symphony, done in May 1930. It was also the first electrical recording of any complete Mahler symphony. Additionally, Konoye made numerous guest appearances in Europe and America, conducting some 90 different orchestras in the course of his career including the orchestra of La Scala, Milan and the NBC Symphony Orchestra. He created friendships with Erich Kleiber, Leopold Stokowski, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Richard Strauss. He went to Germany and conducted Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in second half of 1930s. In the early days of the NBC Symphony, he planned an American tour under the supervision of Stokowski, but the project was cancelled due to World War II. Konoye wrote original compositions, but was more deeply interested in arranging existing music, including, for example, Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Schubert's C major Quintet, which he orchestrated.

Born in 1928 in Tokyo, Takahiro Sonoda, Japan's leading and one of the most important pianists in the world, received his first piano lesson from his father Kiyohide, a noted music educator. In 1939, his father brought him to Leo Shirota (one of the disciples of Ferrucio Busoni) , under whom Takahiro studied for 11years.  In 1954, Sonoda was the soloist with the NHK Symphony Orchestra under Herbert von Karajan on his first visit to Japan and with Karajan’s recommendation he took off to Europe where he had private instructions under Marguerite Long in Paris and Helmut Roloff in Berlin. The following year, he gave a successful debut as a soloist with the Berliner Philharmoniker. After this event, extensive concert engagements took him all across Japan, Germany, Austria, France, Italy, the Soviet Union and the USA. His appearances included performances under the baton of prestigious conductors such as Otmar Suitner, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Sergiu Celibidache and Herbert Blomstedt, with orchestras such as Berliner Philharmoniker, Wiener Symphoniker, Dresden Staatskapelle, with chamber ensembles such as Borodin, Wien Musikverein, Artis String Quartets among others. As for the recordings, he recorded the Forty-Eight Well-Tempered Clavier twice, complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas trice, the complete Arnold Schoenberg piano works, and various works by Chopin, Schumann, and Brahms for which have all been very highly acclaimed. Between 1998 and 2000, he has also recorded an all Beethoven Piano Concertos with Kyushu Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Heiichiro Oyama. From 1960s to 70s, he recorded quite a lot for Columbia/Denon but after these years, almost all of the recordings were made for Evica & Accustika label. From Bach to 20th century’s music, the broadness of his repertoire and the profoundness of his interpretation for each repertoire are incomparable. Beside his busy schedule for concerts and recordings ,Sonoda was active for raising musical talents of the next generation and was an ardent professor at Kyoto University of Arts for 14 years from 1968 and at Showa University of Music for 9 years from 1984. He was also a highly respected and sought-after judge for world-prestigious piano competitions including Rubinstein, Geneva, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Munich, Queen Elisabeth, Van Cliburn, Thibaud, Busoni , Messiaen and Japan International Competitions. In 1985, crowning his name on its title and presided by himself, Takahiro Sonoda International Piano Competition had been started in Oita Prefecture in Japan. This competition was held every year until 2002 as its 18th and the last occasion. In 1981, he was appointed to be the Member of Japan Art Academy. Among other prestigious awards he received include the Japan Record Academy Award for his recording of Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata in 1996, and the Suntory Music Award in 1997. While preparing for his next concert scheduled on 2 days after, Takahiro Sonoda died of stroke on October 7, 2004.

The Japan Philharmonic Orchestra was founded on June 22, 1956, as the exclusive subsidiary orchestra under the Nippon Cultural Broadcasting. Akeo Watanabe served the first Chief (Resident) conductor of the orchestra. In 1958, Jean Fournet conducted "Pelléas et Mélisande" of Debussy, it was the premiere performance in Japan. Japan Philharmonic made a subsidiary contract with Fuji Television in 1959. Between 1961 to 1989, regular concerts were held in Tokyo Bunka Kaikan hall, in Tokyo. Akeo Watanabe completed his recordings of Jean Sibelius symphonies in 1962, which were released from Nippon Columbia Company (now Columbia Music Entertainment). Carles Munch conducted the symphony No. 9 of Ludwig Van Beethoven in 1962. Japan Philharmonic undertook its first overseas tour of the USA and Canada in 1963. Since then the orchestra has toured Europe (4 times), the Netherlands, Estonia, and Hawaii. In March 1972, Nippon Cultural Broadcasting and Fuji Television subsidiary contracts broke away, the orchestra foundation was dissolved. Seiji Ozawa was the principal conductor and the music adviser at the time. One-third of those original members left, then formed the New Japan Philharmonic in 1972 led by Seiji Ozawa and Naozumi Yamamoto(conductor and secretary-general). Japan Philharmonic Orchestra Association was founded in 1973, newly formed as a self-organized orchestra. Václav Smetáček was appointed as a gust conductor. Japan Philharmonic Orchestra Association chorus was formed end of the year. Japan Philharmonic Orchestra Association once again became a foundation in 1985, music tour was resumed again. A friendly relationships between Japan philharmonic and Suginami City begin in July 1994. Yokohama concert hall was moved and settled in Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall in 1998 for Yokohama venue program. Suginami Public Hall was re-opened with remodeled in June 2006. Japan Philharmonic and Suginami city announced that the formal friendship agreement was signed. Suginami Public Hall is used for rehearsals and some other orchestral events. Members of orchestra regularly visit schools in Suginami area for educational purpose of music and open concerts. Japan philharmonic administrative office is also located in Suginami. Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi conducted the Japan phil and the Arnhem Philharmonic joint orchestra at Suntory Hall in March 2007 and March 2009, more than 180 accompanists played with one orchestra.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73
"Emperor Concerto"

I. Allegro
II. Adagio un poco mosso
III. Rondo: Allegro ma non troppo


Takahiro Sonoda, piano

Hidemaro Konoye

September 30, 1969
Live in Tokio Bunka Kaikan, Japan

За присланную мне видеозапись благодарю нашего японского коллегу (Tetsuya Yamada).

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