classical music

Paavo Järvi & the NHK Symphony Orchestra

Part of Classical Season 2019/20

Indulge yourself with Rachmaninov’s lush, lyrical symphony, and Schumann’s Concerto for Cello.

When Paavo Järvi and the NHK Symphony first performed together in London in 2017, the reviews said it all: ‘a swashbuckling performance’ (The Guardian), ‘stunningly dramatic’ (The Times) and ‘magnificent’ (Bachtrack). Join Järvi and the renowned Japanese orchestra for their highly anticipated return visit to London with a programme to indulge the senses.

The evening begins with Takemitsu’s beautiful How slow the wind, in which a seven-tone motif moves in a subtly changing cycle, creating an impression of delicate natural forces. Its gorgeous harmonies and textures create a soundworld reminisent of Debussy.

The restrained use of the orchestra in Schumann’s Concerto for Cello provides a backdrop for the soloist’s impassioned melodies. Listeners should look forward to the work’s romantic opening and dreamily poetic slow movement. The Financial Times says of soloist Sol Gabetta: ‘she commands the sort of technique that unravels even the fiercest knot with apparently nonchalant savoir-faire.’

The luxuriously sentimental sweep of Rachmaninov’s Second makes it one of the greatest of all Russian symphonies. The composer was devastated by the premiere of his First Symphony, which went exceptionally badly, resulting in a long stretch of writer's block and extensive consultation with the psychiatrist Dr. Nikolai Dahl.

It was 12 years later that Rachmaninov was finally able to produce his Second Symphony. While he continued to be haunted by memories of his earlier failure, he was vindicated by the triumphant reception of his second attempt.

This concert is part of the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2020.

The Guardian called the NHK’s most recent appearance at Royal Festival Hall ‘a rare UK showcase for an ensemble on bristlingly good form.’

Over almost a century, the illustrious Japanese orchestra has been conducted by names including Herbert von Karajan, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Herbert Blomstedt and now Paavo Jarvi.


NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo
Paavo Järvi conductor
Sol Gabetta cello


Takemitsu: How slow the wind
Schumann: Cello Concerto
Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2

Dates & times

24 Feb 2020
Approximate run time: 130 mins
Run times may vary, find out more


Royal Festival Hall


£15 - £65
Booking fee: £3.00 (Members £0.00)
£15, £25, £35, £50, £65


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