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Penny Gore presents a week of programmes profiling the titled conductors of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Featuring concerts from Wales, the Proms, foreign tours and studio recordings, we explore how the members of the team bring their own musical ingredients to blend in the mix of the orchestra's programmes each season.

Tadaaka Otaka, from Japan and known affectionately as "Chu", was Principal Conductor of the orchestra from 1987 to 1995. Before then he was virtually unknown in the UK, but during his tenure he extensively developed the orchestra into the ensemble we know and love today, encouraging and supporting the players. He also paved the way for the orchestra to change its name from the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Each season Otaka returns to Cardiff, now as Conductor Laureate, and he's still held in the highest regard by the players.

To open we've a sample from his award-winning recordings of Rachmaninov. Otaka also encouraged the orchestra to tour, and we join them in a recording from the BBC archive of a concert in Leningrad during a tour of Soviet Russia in 1988. Otaka is particularly passionate about the music of Elgar. He recorded the symphonies with BBC NOW and was awarded the Elgar medal. We join the orchestra on tour again in 1995, this time in Japan, for Elgar's Cello Concerto with Steven Isserlis the soloist - from Otaka's final concert as Principal Conductor, at Suntory Hall in Tokyo.

Together orchestra and conductor have a long and honourable record of Mahler performances, and finally this week we've his third symphony, recorded earlier this season at St. David's Hall in Cardiff. According to The Guardian, "Otaka reached into the very DNA of the music, its natural life force implicit and inevitable... this performance had the ideal combination of innocence and intensity".

Rachmaninov (orch. Respighi): Marche (from Etudes-tableaux)
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Tadaaki Otaka (conductor)

Strauss: Don Juan
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Tadaaki Otaka (conductor)

Takemitsu: A flock descends into the Pentagonal Garden
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Tadaaki Otaka (conductor)

Elgar: Cello Concerto
Steven Isserlis (cello)
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Tadaaki Otaka (conductor)

Mahler: Symphony no. 3 in D minor
Katarina Karneus (mezzo-soprano)
Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester Cathedral Choirs
BBC National Chorus and Orchestra of Wales
Tadaaki Otaka (conductor).

3 hours

Last on

Fri 8 Apr 2011 14:00
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