Jun Märkl conducts the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra for the first time on 10 January at Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, with a programme of Wagner and Tchaikovsky. This is followed by a second performance on 16 January at Suntory Hall with Webern’s Passacaglia and Schoenberg’s arrangement of Brahms’ D minor Piano Quartet, a piece he has recorded with the MDR Sinfonieorchester.
He repeats the Berlioz a week later with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, coupled with Hosokawa’s Blossoming II and music by Bartók. Then he continues to Atlanta Symphony for Messiaen, Poulenc and Saint-Saëns.
For several years now I have been working on and performing a large part of the oeuvre of the Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa.
I started in April 2006 with the world premiere of “Lotus under the moonlight – hommage à Mozart” for piano and orchestra, a work commissioned by Norddeutscher Rundfunk Hamburg and dedicated to the wonderful pianist Momo Kodama, who played the solo part. The logical pairing for the work (in this and many subsquent concerts) was Mozart‘s Piano concerto A-Major KV 488, performed before Toshio Hosokawa’s work. Mozart’s theme in the slow movement is cited at the end of “Lotus”, creating the wonderful surprise of hearing the Mozart theme in the Hosokawa moonlight.
In 2007 I conducted the first French performance of “Circulating Ocean”, and took the work on tour to Japan with the Orchestre National de Lyon for its Japanese premiere in Tokyo (Suntory Hall) and Osaka (Festival Hall).
Soon afterwards, in 2008, I had the chance to conduct another Japanese and English premiere: “Cloud and Light”, a work with passages full of delicate atmosphere. It is a kind of concerto for the traditional Japanese instrument SHO. Mayumi Miyata, who played the sho, has joined me in all the later performances i.e. at the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, in Leipzig, and at the BBC Proms.
In May 2012 I conducted the NHK Symphony in a concert dedicated to Toshio Hosokawa’s work; all the works in the programme received their Japanese premieres. We began with the impressive “Woven Dreams” followed by “Sternlose Nacht”, a Requiem for singers, narrators, mixed chorus and orchestra. The work is a very profound statement, full of beauty e.g. in the passages with the two female voices (performed by Ms Handa and Ms Fujimura); and drama eg. in the scenes of the narrators and chorus. The chorus part is extremely demanding, though the Tokyo Ongaku Daigaku Chorus were excellently prepared and great to work with. The opus, I would call it an oratorio, combines impressions and scenes of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima with the bombing of Dresden in World War II, and leaves nobody untouched by its power and emotion. As always the NHK orchestra played marvellously.
In September 2013 I had the opportunity to perform two other recent compositions in a concert with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra in Takemitsu Hall: “Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra” (solo part played by Jeroen Berwaerts) and an aria from the opera „Matsukaze”, sung by Barbara Hannigan – a world premiere in this version.
During the rehearsals and performances I often had the chance to discuss his music with Toshio, whether detailed questions concerning the performance of the works, or the philosophy of his writing and the origin of the spirit of the music. It was always delightful to work with this really wonderful person, musician and composer.
These many performances of Toshio Hosokawa’s works gave me the idea of recording some of his works for Naxos to prepare for his 60th anniverary in October 2015. The 2 CDs are now on the market (released in February and September 2014), and both give an excellent overview of the most recent works of this great composer.
Orchestral Works 1 features the Horn concerto “Moments of Blossoming” (solo horn Stefan Dohr); “Lotus under the moonlight” (with Momo Kodama) and “Chant” for violoncello and orchestra (soloist Anssi Karttunen).
Orchestral Works 2 features “Blossoming II”, “Circulating Ocean” and “Woven Dreams” , all played and recorded with the marvellous Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Have a look and listen to it; it’s all on the Naxos Label (8.573239 and 8.573276)!
Jun Maerkl, November 2014
It was announced in San Sebastian on 3 November that Jun Märkl becomes Principal Conductor of the Basque National Orchestra (Orquestra de Euskadi), effective immediately, for the remainder of 14/15 and until the end of 15/16, with possible further renewal. He has been Artistic Advisor since June, and had already conducted the orchestra on several occasions. He succeeds Andres Orozco Estrada, who left two seasons ago to take up positions in Frankfurt and Houston. Andrey Boreyko remains as Principal Guest Conductor. The orchestra celebrates Maerkl’s appointment at concerts this week in San Sebastian and Bilbao, when Maerkl conducts Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra and works by Saint-Saens, with cello soloist Johannes Moser.
Jun Märkl returns to Spain this November for three concerts with the Orquestra Sinfónica de Euskadi in San Sebastian (5 and 6 November) and Bilbao (8 November). The concerts will feature a programme that includes three Saint-Saëns works and culminates with Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra alongside cellist Johannes Moser, a piece that Märkl has previously conducted to critical acclaim:
“This Bartók is delicately spun despite the large canvass, and so suits Märkl’s approach perfectly. Taking their lead from his wise and reflective direction, the orchestra took a measured approach and expressed Bartók’s restrained jubilation and beautifully subdued melancholy.”
Leipziger Volkszeitung, February 2012
Märkl will then travel to Missouri, where he will conduct the St Louis Symphony on 15 and 16 November at Powell Hall. The all-Beethoven programme focusses on the composer’s early works and also features soloists Orli Shaham, Helen Kim and Xiaoxiao Qiang.
Jun Märkl has several engagements in Europe in October, beginning with the NDR Philharmonie Hanover on 16 and 17 October. For both concerts he conducts a programme of Mendelssohn and Liszt. read more
Jun Märkl conducts a new production of Idomeneo at Tokyo’s Nikikai Opera opening on 12 September and with further performances on 13,14 and 15 September at Toyko’s New National Theatre. The production is directed by Damiano Michieletto in a co-production Theater an der Wien, and features an all-Japanese cast with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra in the pit.
Märkl return to Nikikai Opera next season for a new Strauss production. His next visit to Tokyo will be in January 2015 for his first appearance with Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, in concerts at Suntory Hall and Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre.
September also sees the release on Naxos of Märkl’s Toshio Hosokawa Orchestral Works Vol.II with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Read the reviews of Vol.I, released earlier in 2014:
“Beautifully crafted with hints of romantic grandeur…What is impressive, though, is the quality of the performances under Jun Märkl.”
Guardian, April 2014
“Stunningly recorded, the Scottish players respond with alacrity to the ever-scrupulous Märkl…”
New Zealand Herald, June 2014
Jun Märkl was recently honoured with the title Visiting Professor of the Kunitachi Conservatoire in Tokyo. He returns to Kunitachi this month for his annual visit, coaching the student orchestra for a week and then leading them in a concert at Tokyo Opera City on 14 July, bringing his expertise to bear on Strauss Don Juanand Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique. read more
Jun Märkl returns to Asia this month for concerts with Hong Kong Philharmonic, Osaka Philharmonic and Kunitachi College of Music, where he holds the position of Invited Professor. read more
Jun Märkl travels to Budapest this month to lead the Hungarian State Opera in two performances of Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier on 5 and 10 June, as part of the Strauss150 Festival commemorating the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Märkl, who has conducted the work many times in the past, conducts the orchestra at the Hungarian Opera House, as directed by Adrejs Zagars. read more
Jun Märkl returns to Austria this month for two concerts with the Tonkünstler Orchestra at Vienna’s celebrated Musikverein on 25 and 27 May, followed by a third concert in St Polten on 26 May.
Jun Märkl returns to the US for three concerts of Shostakovich and Wagner on 27, 29 and 30 March with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and violinist Midori. Midori performs as soloist in Shostakovich Violin Concerto No.1, and this is followed by a performance of Wagner Orchestral Suite from The Ring. read more
Jun Märkl, who conducts in Tokyo every season, joins the New Japan Philharmonic for the first time this month beginning with a performance on 6 March at Suntory Hall, Toyko. The programme includes two signature works – Debussy’s Jeux and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. read more
Opening on 8 February, Jun Märkl conducts Hans Neuenfels’ production of Beethoven’s Fidelio at the Hamburg State Opera. He will conduct the Hamburg Philharmonic in a further four performances of Fidelio on 13, 16, 19 and 22 February, with singers Stephen Gould and Katja Piewick performing the lead roles of Florestan and Leonore. read more