When Yutaka Sado was in sixth grade at school and was asked what his life’s ambition was, he answered: “I want to conduct the Berliner Philharmoniker one day.” In the meantime, Sado can now look back on an impressive career. He accompanied Leonard Bernstein as his assistant to the Schleswig-Holstein music festival, and has worked together with Seiji Ozawa and many famous orchestras. In May 2011, Sado’s youthful dream came true when he made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker.
To open the concert, Yutaka Sado brought music from his mother country: From me flows what you call time by Tōru Takemitsu, Japan’s most famous composer internationally. Audiences should not jump to the wrong conclusion because the work employs five percussionists. From me flows what you call time is no brutal percussive piece, rather a meditative kaleidoscope of delicate colours and accents. Composed just a few years before Takemitsu’s death, the work gives us an insight into his wide-ranging interests, from eastern tradition and western avantgarde, to his extensive work as composer of film music.
While this concert was the first time that the Berliner Philharmoniker played From me flows what you call time, Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony is regularly to be found in the orchestra’s concert programmes. The composer himself called the work “a Soviet artist’s creative response to justified criticism”, after his Fourth Symphony had been banned by the Stalin dictatorship for being “formalistic”. With his Fifth, he performed a balancing act: it was to be popular and celebratory, but Shostakovich could not stop himself from formulating his revulsion at the hypocrisy of the regime between the lines. As a result, this symphony is a fascinating puzzle, in which grandiosity changes suddenly to the ridiculous and merriness to desperation.