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Monday, July 04, 2016 12:10pm

String reflections

ASO_Natsuko Yoshimoto.JPG

Our very own concertmaster, Natsuko Yoshimoto sits down and talks with us ahead of the next concert in our Mozart at Elder matinee series...


Can you tell us a little more about the pieces you'll be performing?
We’ll be performing Eine kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart and Divertimento for Strings by Bartók. Eine kleine Nachmusik is probably the most famous of Mozart’s work, and many people would recognise the opening tune. It’s been used a lot as 'gig' music for weddings, background music which makes it quite hard to play as something fresh and new. Some musicians have bad associations with the piece because of this and often don't feel excited about playing it…but it's actually a real masterpiece, and when I study this piece, I really feel like I'm discovering it for the first time.

Can you remember your first encounter with Mozart's music?
I don’t remember the exact moment...but I know it would be very early on.

What has your relationship been with the works featured in this program, and why do you love them?
I absolutely love the Bartók – it has a very special place in my heart. I first encountered and played the work when I was at Yehudi Menuhin School in Surry in the UK, and couldn't get over the extraordinary sonority and colours, especially in the slow movement which has the nickname of 'night music'. I have wanted to put these two works together because of the 'night music' connection, so I'm thrilled to be able to present this program!

What is most difficult about performing these pieces? And what's most enjoyable?
The most difficult part is that this concert will be performed without a conductor. This means a lot of work for me as I must know the work inside out in order to be able to direct, and rehearse the pieces.

And the most enjoyable thing is: that it's being performed without a conductor! This means that every single player has to take more ownership and must be even more open with, and aware of, each other. Lots of listening and eye contact!

Who was your musical idol growing up?
There are too many to name all of them... Yehudi Menuhin, Joseph Szigeti, Georges Enescu, Pablo Casals, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk.

How do you prepare for a big performance?
This depends, but if it's a work I've never played before then ideally I like to start looking at it well in advance, so then I can put it away and let it mature and develop, just like good wine(!). And then come back to it again so then I can delve deeper into the mystery of the piece.

What are three recordings everyone should own?
Coltrane Love Supreme
Szigeti and/or Enescu Bach Unaccompanied Sonatas
Partitas, Beethoven String Quartet Op.130 Busch Quartet

Where do you go to feel inspired?
Nature and watching my children.

Can you tell us more about your process of preparing for a concert?

A lot of late nights...

Studying scores and getting to know all the other parts as well as your own. Working out the balance, different tempi, articulations, colors and characters.

What are the challenges for the musicians in this concert?
Definitely the conductor-less aspect. Because I'm playing as well I can't prepare or give as clear lead necessarily as a conductor can. So everyone has to be more aware of what's going on around them, they have to be much more pro-active.

If you were to choose any Mozart music to play, which work would you choose, and why?
I absolutely love The Magic Flute – it contains some of the most extraordinary music. I also love his string quintets, the sonority of them are wonderfully rich with having two violas.


Born in Japan, Natsuko began playing the violin at the age of three. She studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and Royal Northern College of Music in England and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadephia.  She received direct guidance and teaching under Lord Menuhin and Wen Zhou Li.

She has won many awards and prizes in international competitions including the Gold Medal in both the prestigious 1994 Shell/London Symphony Orchestra Competition and the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa Award. In 2007 Natsuko was presented with the Iwaki Award for outstanding achievement as a Japanese artist.

In great demand as a soloist, she has appeared with many world renowned orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia (London), Halle Orchestra, Odense  Symphony (Denmark), Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Melbourne Symphony and Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Natsuko is the Concertmaster with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. She was the leader of the Australian String Quartet and then the Grainger Quartet until the end of 2008.

She has given many world premieres of works by Australia's most prominent composers and has recorded for Virgin Classics, ABC Classics, Melba Records and Tall Poppies.  

Natsuko plays on a Nicolo Amati dated 1650. 


The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra first performed Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik on 19-20 August 1941 under the direction of Bernard Heinze, and most recently on 28 April 2005 with David Sharp.

The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra first performed Bartok’s Divertimento work on 10-12 November 1955 under conductor Tibor Paul, and most recently on 15-16 June 1973 under Ladislav Slovák.


This article was written by Michelle Robins, Publications & Communications Coordinator, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.


Mozart at Elder 2
Wed 6 Jul 11.30am
Elder Hall

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