• Music

Illustrious Pianists to Play with YNSO

©Dovile Sermokas
Mao Fujita

Various pianists will play with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra (YNSO) in the 2023-24 season, including up-and-coming young performers and jazz pianists.

Among them is Mao Fujita, who won second prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2019. His meteoric rise since then has been impressive. For example, he released an album of the complete piano sonatas of Mozart last year. Fujita will join the YNSO in January 2024 to play Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2. Brahms wrote this work about 20 years after his first piano concerto. Fujita spent more than six months practicing it. “It requires a sound that surpasses theoretical things,” he explained. He performed the concerto for the first time in November last year, with the Yamagata Symphony Orchestra.

The last time Fujita performed with the YNSO was in May 2021 when he was the soloist for Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

Asked what he thinks of the YNSO, the pianist said: “[The members] are tightly knit and firmly possess their own sounds. And they let me do what I want to do.”

He is aware that Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 is a difficult work, with its success depending on the orchestra’s skills.

“With the YNSO, I can play it without worries,” said Fujita, expressing immense trust in the orchestra.

He will perform and tour mostly in Europe during 2023 before taking on the concert with the YNSO next year. It will be conducted by Sebastian Weigle, the orchestra’s principal conductor.

“Maestro Weigle mainly conducts operas in Europe, and he’s very good at running rehearsals. He also has a very good affinity with the YNSO. I really look forward to playing with them again. I feel excited about it,“ Fujita said.

Other pianists performing with the YNSO in the new season include Kyohei Sorita, who has made headlines recently by announcing his marriage and converting an orchestra he leads to a joint-stock company. In the upcoming season, Sorita will play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the YNSO. And Eric Lu, an internationally acclaimed young talent from the United States, will play Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

Popular jazz pianist Makoto Ozone will be the soloist for Ravel’s Piano Concerto. Internationally sought-after pianist Alexander Melnikov will play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor,” and Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who is well-versed in contemporary music, will demonstrate his artistic prowess in Ligeti’s Piano Concerto.

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