NHK SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA EUROPEAN TOUR – BERLIN, LUXEMBOURG, PARIS, AMSTERDAM, LONDON, VIENNA & KÖLN / MARCH 2017
Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics; Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam; NHKSO Tokyo. Would you have thought of putting the Japanese orchestra in the same league as the top Europeans? I certainly wouldn’t, at least not until last night …  This was a Mahler Six in which every detail was clearly etched, every phrase flexible but firm of purpose …  One thing’s for sure: none of us will ever hear a Mahler Sixth more confidently or trenchantly executed than this one.   [The Arts Desk, David Nice, 7 March 2017]

The NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo surprise with a blazing virtuosity in Shostakovich. Chief conductor Paavo Järvi smuggles the Japanese into the top league … the triumph of a dream team … The strings created an ardour that connoisseurs usually ascribe to the Vienna Philharmonic. From Berlin came the bluster with which the violas probed.  Moreover, in the lion’s mouth [of the Concertgebouw] the Japanese musicians produced an Amsterdam trump card …   [Der Volkskrant, Guido van Oorschot, 7 March 2017]

“… And Paavo Järvi, from his clearly accentuated opening (of Mahler Symphony no.6), took his fiercely engaged orchestra with vehemence out of the comfort zone … with Järvi the work is disciplined, with fine articulation and a soft, yet structured, sound which leads us through melancholic marches and oblique Scherzi … with an intelligent sound and individual life of its own.   [Brug’s Klassiker, Die Welt, Manuel Brug, 1 March 2017]

One is impressed by the extraordinary discipline of the ensemble, section by section, the dazzling reactivity to the imperious gesture of the leader … The concentration of expression, but also of the sound itself, which produces a mattness rarely heard today, where orchestras often aim for brilliance. This corresponds ideally to Järvi’s gestures of tension and biting (in Shostakovich Symphony No. 10), which brings us back to the Stalinist context of the composition … The musicians of the NHK aim for crudity and realism, and their radical spontaneity gives the impression of a young orchestra, with the mastery of experienced training. Here is an unmistakably convincing marriage …”   [Diapason, Remy Louis, 7 March 2017]

… as this epic work (Mahler Symphony No.6) progressed I became engrossed, first by Järvi’s unswerving emphasis on momentum … and second by the accentuation of extreme contrasts of dynamics rather than subtle variations of timbre. That may sound unsophisticated, but in the life-and-death tumult of the finale — where a flamboyant percussionist turned the two ear-splitting hammer-strokes into a new form of martial art — the direct, almost violent clash of opposites really paid off. The ending was stunningly dramatic.   [The Times, Richard Morrison, 8 March 2017]

This visit by Tokyo’s NHK Symphony Orchestra and its chief conductor, Paavo Järvi, was a rare UK showcase for an ensemble on bristlingly good form … a swashbuckling performance   [The Guardian, Erica Jeal, 8 March 2017]

… one has to be grateful to have heard a Mahler Six of such skill and integrity as this.   [Bachtrack.com, Roy Westbrook, 7 March 2017]

Whether refined or when becoming more angular, whatever was required, the players, with chief conductor Paavo Järvi, had every expressive phrase and nuance mastered … From the first bar (of Mahler Symphony No. 6) this performance compelled, a sense of rightness established immediately … and the long silence that followed told of musicians and audience collectively caught up in something special.   [Classicalsource.com, Colin Anderson, 6 March 2017]

(Takemitsu’s Requiem) requires full and unwavering concentration from the players, and the NHK strings were up to its demands … A lovely and affecting performance overall … marvellously shaped by a batonless Järvi.   [SeenandHeard-International.com, Colin Clarke, 8 March 2017]

“Järvi, head of the orchestra since 2015, is a noble companion and much more … With the NHK Orchestra he has a cultured, technically majestic entity of sound at his disposal, which in all sections understands how to play distinctly … The abstract poetry hovered almost like cool darkness, in order to tilt into music of anxietry of merciless density. The brutality of the second movement (of Shotstakovich Symphnoy No. 10) is completed with great conciseness. In sum, it is an unvarnished performance – with intensity and without sentiment.”   [Der Standard, Ljubisa Tosic, 9 March 2017]

The orchestra climbs whole mountain ranges at the summit (of Sibleius’ Violin Concerto) and makes the valleys between them charmingly iridescent.”   [Wiener Zeitung, Christopher Irrgang, 8 March 2017]

… With Shostakovich’s tenth, Järvi concentrated on drawing out the details, leading his musicians to the highest transparency and perfection.   [Walter Dobner, Die Presse, 10 March 2017]

DEUTSCHE KAMMERPHILHARMONIE BREMEN, JANUARY 2017
With Brahms’s symphonic legacy the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen shows its strengths, with its small string ensemble and muscular strong sound. Whereas the silky-smooth strings sound of big symphony orchestras often lose out, here the intricate braid of voices can be heard without it being a mere structural inter-penetration. There is little trace of old-fashioned motifs, but a sharp rebellion can be heard with all the means of contrapuntal art, which makes the scherzo and finale a breathless experience … [Jürg Huber, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 27 January 2017]

Järvi’s intrepretation (of Brahms’ Symphony No.1) is refined. Impressive is the transparent, clearly differentiated sound form, exhibiting the finest subtleties. Without hustle and bustle, Järvi flows dynamically forward leaving little room for pathos. [Annkathrin Babbe, Nordwest Zeitung, 21 January 2017]

Probably no other orchestra has played the symphonies and concertos of Johannes Brahms as often in the past few years (as the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie) – with more than 60 performances of the cycle to audiences as far afield as St Petersburg, Vienna and Tokyo. In Die Glocke, the second Bremen Brahms cycle distributed over multiple seasons began (on Thursday) with Symphony No. 1. Again, the musicians’ inherent understanding of the music is especially emphasized in the characteristics of the Symphony and its chromatic development, the interplay between the instruments, the aggressive boldness of the introduction and the “Alpine Horn Solo” played by flute and horn. … Järvi’s approach is transparent and economical … Again fascinating worlds lay between the sound-sensitive playing of solo voices (in particular, oboe, clarinet, violin) and the brilliantly pointed rhythmic energy in the finale. [Markus Wilke, Weser Kurier, 21 January 2017]