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Interview with Naoko Yoshino

Interviewer: You've appeared at Art Tower Mito (ATM) several times already, so I'm sure you're familiar to many people in Mito.

Yoshino: They're probably saying, "Not again!" (laughter)

Interviewer: Don't be so modest. You played Mozart's Flute and Harp Concerto along with the flutist Shigenori Kudo and the Mito Chamber Orchestra (MCO) back in April 1990, which was the first spring after the group was created. After that, you've played many times with the MCO here at ATM. In addition, you've played chamber music with both Aurele Nicolet and Nobuko Imai in 1992, as well as with Gideon Kremer in 1996. Besides that, you appeared with the ATM Ensemble in 1992. Not only that, but you also performed before Mito 7th graders with the flutist, Yumiko Sakuma.

Yoshino: That's right. I've played Mahler's "Adagietto" from Symphony No. 5 and Hiroshi Wakasugi's direction, "Ariadne auf Naxos (R. Strauss)" with the MCO , and just last year I played Toru Takemitsu's "Toward the Sea II" (Umi e II) with them. Come to think of it, I've probably played with MCO more than I've played chamber music here.

Interviewer: You're probably right. Your debut performance of Takemitsu's "And then I knew 'twas Wind" seven years ago was given at Mito.

Yoshino: Mito is the first stop on this year's tour, too.

Interviewer: Is that true? When you performed with Gideon Kremer in 1996, Mito was the first stop on your tour, too. Both of you gave wonderful performances, and a CD was released of it later. By the way, I read an interview where you said you were the one responsible for proposing that the three of you play together this time (the interview can be seen on the Web at http://www.music.co.jp/classicnews/) .

Yoshino: You're right. The three of us had never played together as a trio before, although as each of us had performed with each other as individual duos..

Interviewer: That's why you're able to pull off such a program as this. Putting the Gubaidulina piece at the top of the program was certainly a bold step.

Yoshino: You think it's too bold? Maybe it was a mistake ...

Interviewer: Oh, no, I didn't mean to say that. I feel that something like that was possible precisely because all three of you are such strong musicians, and you put trust in each other. I think it's a wonderful relationship that you three have.

Yoshino: The way we decided on our program this time was to have Wolfgang Schulz pull out various pieces, asking us "How's this?", and we would say, "Fine." The first time I played the Gubaidulina piece was with Veronica Hagen at the Rockenhaus Music Festival. There was no flutist available at that time, so Gideon Kremer played the flute part on the violin. That's why this is the first time I'm playing the original version with flute. It's a wonderful, Debussyesque kind of piece.

Interviewer: Had Wolfgang Schulz played the Gubaidalina before?

Yoshino: No, he hadn't. He knows the Debussy quite well, but it was the first time for him to play both the Gubaidulina and the Takemitsu. Veronika had done the Gubaidulina before, but not the Takemitsu or the Debussy.

Interviewer: You must be superb musicians to be able to give a public performance of this program despite such circumstances.

Yoshino: Oh, nothing of the sort. We, too, would like to put in enough practice. Except for Wolfgang Schulz, who just hates to practice. I've never seen him practice wholeheartedly before. Even so, when it comes to the day of the concert, he always gives a perfect performance.

Interviewer: . . .

Yoshino: Maybe he's a genius. In contrast, Veronika loves to practice. She's the type of person who will say "Let's practice!" whenever there's a little time available.

Interviewer: When the Hagen Quartet came to play at ATM before, Veronika seemed to play the role of the "older sister," being both kind and firm when it came to practicing.

Yoshino: I see.

Interviewer: Incidentally, you are the only one without a solo on the program this time.

Yoshino: I decided to that because I wanted to introduce Schulz and Veronika to everybody. I've already had ample opportunity to express myself in Britten's "Lachrymae" and Takemitsu's "Toward the Sea III" (Umi e III).

Interviewer: Your modest remarks are so reflective of your personality. By eliminating the harp and having Veronica and Schulz play solos in Stravinsky's "Elegy" and Debussy's "Syrinx," the Debussy sonata comes off even more effectively.

Yoshino: Yes. (nodding her head)

Interviewer: We really look forward to seeing and hearing you at next week's concert. Thank you very much for your time.

(After completing their tour of Japan, the trio plans to perform at music festivals in Europe as well. The tour thus starts on June 26, with the concert at ATM).

Ms. Yoshino was interviewed by Concert Hall ATM's chief producer, Toyomi Iimori, at the Kajimoto Music Office on June 14, 1999.


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