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NHK Orchestra plays London

The Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK) Symphony Orchestra returned to London on Thursday with their Chief Conductor Paavo Järvi, to give excellent accounts of three works connected by their sensuous qualities.

Toru Takemitsu’s How slow the wind is the composer’s only work for chamber orchestra. It is a series of ‘episodes’ – short phrases made from instrumental accretions – which float like waterlilies of different colours and in different stages of opening on a tranquil harmonic pond. An enchanting seven-note rising phrase gradually makes its appearance in the episodes, transformed, in each, by instrumentation, completeness or inversion. The piece might be considered as a development of the impressionist works of Debussy or Ravel. Järvi and the orchestra inhabited the piece to perfection and delivered its delicate shimmering textures with skill and subtlety, allowing, through careful control of dynamic and balance, plenty of space for the listener to be drawn into its calm and finespun musical world.