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SUSUMU AOYAGI

Chopin and Schumann lead roster of Romantic classics

by Mariko Kato

Tokushima Symphony Orchestra invites pianist Susumu Aoyagi and conductor Hideaki Hirai to perform a program of Romantic classical music at Tokushima Bunka Center in Tokushima City, Shikoku, on Sept. 16.

The program is family-friendly, familiar and stimulating: The popular “William Tell Overture” by Rossini will be followed by Chopin’s First Piano Concerto and Schumann’s First Symphony “Spring.” The latter is performed in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Schumann’s death and is an indulgent closing piece by the first unabashedly Romantic composer.

The highlight of the program is Chopin’s much-loved E minor Concerto. Chosen for memorable events such as the 1997 BBC Proms’ first solo piano recital, performed by Evgeny Kissin, this concerto brings together the most dramatic, tender and exuberant of Chopin’s music.

Aoyagi’s interpretation of the second movement presents Chopin at his most poetic, while the cheeky third movement — based on elements of Polish folk music — sees the composer at his most virtuoso. Aoyagi is a seasoned Romantic performer, winning the 28th Chopin Society Awards of Japan in 2002.

The concert starts at 6:30 p.m. at Tokushima-shi Bunka Center, Jonouchi 1-banchi, Tokushima-cho, Tokushima City, Tokushima Prefecture. Admission is 1,500 yen in advance (tel. [03] 3501-5638).

Susumu Aoyagi then performs at the Ito Gakki Highlight Concert at Narashino Bunka Hall in Narashino City, Chiba Prefecture on Sept. 17 (4 p.m.). Aoyagi will perform a Chopin concerto with electric organ accompaniment from Mutsuki Watanabe, among other selections.

The venue is a short walk from the South Exit of Tsudanuma Station on the Sobu Line, a 30-minute ride from Tokyo Station on a rapid train on the JR Sobu Line. Tickets are 3,000 yen (tel. [047] 466-0111).