I was excited for the opening concert of the JPO’s 2019 Winter Season for a number of reasons. Firstly, to hear the orchestra back in its home venue, at the Linder Auditorium in Parktown. The last time I heard the JPO was at the Opera Jewels concert, which was held in the totally unsuitable Teatro at Montecasino; the sound stopped dead at the end of the stage. In my regular seat at the very top of the centre balcony in the Linder Auditorium, the blend of sound I get is the most resonant and most balanced on offer. Secondly, I was looking forward to hearing Haydn once again after a long absence of his works from JPO programmes. Thirdly, I was most eager to hear from one of my favourite conductors of any JPO season, the Japanese guest Yasuo Shinozaki.
I first heard Shinozaki with the JPO last November, when the clarinettist Robert Pickup played the first Weber concerto with the orchestra. As I reported, I was struck by the orchestra’s precision, unity, and strength under him. Those same qualities were present in his return this season.