Takashi Asahina, Vol. VIII - Mahler 6th   (St Laurent Studio YSL T-1260)
Item# C2008
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Takashi Asahina, Vol. VIII - Mahler 6th   (St Laurent Studio YSL T-1260)
C2008. TAKASHI ASAHINA Cond. Osaka Phil.: 'Tragic' Symphony #6 in a (Mahler), Live Performance, 18 Feb., 1992, Osaka Festival Hall. [A distinguished performance - this translucent recording is breathtaking] (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1260. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.


“There is a certain kind of inside knowledge that comes with the hunt for obscure conductors who turn out to be supremely talented. I think this especially pertains to Takashi Asahina (1908–2001), and I envy anyone coming across him for the first time. Japan had started to embrace Western ideas and institutions under the modern inclinations of the Meiji era that began in 1868. Asahina took advantage of the most benign aspect of Japan’s radical shift away from isolation, becoming familiar with Western classical music from a young age. By the time he came to found the Osaka Philharmonic in 1947, he had become a skilled conductor who took special inspiration from two sources, the music of Bruckner and the conducting style of Furtwängler. The final strand in Asahina’s story was the rise of better Japanese orchestras in the postwar era. None of this reached Western notice until Seiji Ozawa made us think of Japan, and even then the focus was on him, not the musical culture he sprang from. Asahina was the lighthouse for all young Japanese conductors, including Ozawa, and to devotees of his recordings, Asahina still stands at the summit.

Great performances announce themselves without needing any description. Asahina indulges in no eccentric gestures; tempos and balances follow traditional lines.

Given the scarcity of Asahina’s commercial recordings in the West, lovers of great conducting should urgently consider this release or indeed anything that St. Laurent Studio issues from Asahina. The source material came from FANFARE’s Henry Fogel, who had close personal ties with the conductor and who supplies the highest-quality recordings from his private collection.”

- Huntley Dent, FANFARE

“Takashi Asahina was loved by music fans for his strong and dignified style of conducting. He specialized in the works of Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner. He won the government’s Medal with Purple Ribbon in 1969, Person of Cultural Merit in 1989 and Order of Culture in 1994. He was also honored with the Japan Academy of Arts Award in 1976.

A Tokyo native, Asahina graduated from the Department of Law at Kyoto University and worked at railway company Hankyu Corp. for two years before launching his career as a conductor in 1936, despite having no formal education for the job. He used to boast to friends that he was probably the only conductor in the world who has operated a train. During wartime, Asahina held a series of performance tours in various parts of China controlled by Japanese forces. Immediately after returning to Japan in 1946, Asahina helped found the Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra, which became the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra in 1947, and served as its executive conductor and music director up to his death at age 93.

Asahina remained active throughout his life and was invited twice to perform with the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra in 1996. His energetic performances gained popularity especially among younger generations in his final years. He complained of ill health after performing at Nagoya on Oct. 24 and was hospitalized at a Kobe hospital. Subsequent performances were canceled. He died on the very night of the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra’s annual yearend performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, which he conducted more than 250 times during his career. On Sunday night, conductor Hiroshi Wakasugi took Asahina’s place for the orchestra’s performance."

- THE JAPAN TIMES, 31 Dec., 2001