Post-surgery, Ozawa makes scaled-back appearance in Japan

Posted on: September 8, 2010

In Tuesday’s (9/7) New York Times, James Oestreich writes that Seiji Ozawa’s comeback following surgery and treatments for cancer of the esophagus, “has fallen short of even lowered expectations.” On Sunday (9/5) at the Saito Kinen Festival in Matsumoto, Japan, “he ceded the concerts to a young conductor, Tatsuya Shimono … confining his own participation to a single added movement, the opening of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, to begin each concert. So little and yet so much. Though many Tchaikovsky works are steeped in emotion, the String Serenade seems not to be one of them. But Mr. Ozawa and the Saito Kinen Orchestra made it sound otherwise…. Mr. Ozawa, looking thin and frail, moved cautiously across the stage and into position; his main difficulty, it seemed, was stepping onto and off the high podium. But once the music started, Mr. Ozawa threw himself physically into the fray, fiercely swooping and elegantly swaying, with only an occasional seated respite. The festival orchestra—made up of professionals from around Japan and the world, … reflected Mr. Ozawa’s intensity to a T, in an absolutely gripping and muscular performance, a tribute to both Saito and Mr. Ozawa, and a privilege to hear. The players seemed to be ripping the sound from their instruments to shattering effect.”

Posted September 8, 2010