Akiko Suwanai
Violin

“Akiko Suwanai, a tall, imposing violinist of striking stage presence, raised her bow for a sombre, intense descent of notes at the start: this was big-boned, noble playing, with its rhythmic life taut and rigorous.” (The Times)

Contacts

Jane Brown +44 (0)20 3725 9129
Maxim Belčikov +44 (0)20 3725 9143
Márcio Bugalho Domingues +44 (0)20 3725 9186

Biography

Praised by The Times for her “noble playing, with its rhythmic life, taut and rigorous,” Japanese violinist Akiko Suwanai was the youngest ever winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1990. Since then she has enjoyed a flourishing international career and appears regularly with celebrated maestros and foremost orchestras across the globe. 

This season Akiko Suwanai debuts at Opéra National de Paris, performing the choreographed version of Salonen’s violin concerto. On this occasion Opéra Bastille sees a series of 13 ballet performances staged by Saburo Teshigawara and conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Other 2017/18 highlights include season opening with the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla and John Axelrod, as well as returns to Orchestre de Paris for Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with Paavo Järvi, and Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai for Salonen's Violin Concerto with Jonathan Webb. Suwanai debuts with Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra and Croatian Radiotelevision Symphony Orchestra and returns to NHK Symphony Orchestra, Hamburger Symphoniker, National Symphony Orchestra, Taiwan, and Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse for a Japan tour with Tugan Sokhiev. 

Praised by The Times for her “noble playing, with its rhythmic life, taut and rigorous,” Japanese violinist Akiko Suwanai was the youngest ever winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1990. Since then she has enjoyed a flourishing international career and appears regularly with celebrated maestros and foremost orchestras across the globe. 

This season Akiko Suwanai debuts at Opéra National de Paris, performing the choreographed version of Salonen’s violin concerto. On this occasion Opéra Bastille sees a series of 13 ballet performances staged by Saburo Teshigawara and conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Other 2017/18 highlights include season opening with the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla and John Axelrod, as well as returns to Orchestre de Paris for Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with Paavo Järvi, and Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai for Salonen's Violin Concerto with Jonathan Webb. Suwanai debuts with Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra and Croatian Radiotelevision Symphony Orchestra and returns to NHK Symphony Orchestra, Hamburger Symphoniker, National Symphony Orchestra, Taiwan, and Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse for a Japan tour with Tugan Sokhiev. 

An extremely keen chamber musician, Akiko Suwanai enjoys fruitful and longstanding collaborations with several artistic partners. In 2017/18, she embarks on a 3-year Beethoven residency at Kumho Art Hall in Seoul with Yoko Kaneko. With Boris Berezovsky, she presents their brand-new recital programme in Moscow and St Petersburg. Following their critically acclaimed Decca Classics release featuring works by Frank, Strauss and Takemitsu, Akiko Suwanai also performs with Enrico Pace in Spain. 

In recent years, Akiko Suwanai has established collaborations with Bamberger Symphoniker and Detroit Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Slatkin. She performed in Russia with Valery Gergiev and The Mariinsky Orchestra, in Hong Kong with Hong Kong Philharmonic and Lawrence Foster, in Germany with Gürzenich-Orchester Köln and François-Xavier Roth, and in the US with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Pablo Heras-Casado.

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Contacts

Jane Brown +44 (0)20 3725 9129
Maxim Belčikov +44 (0)20 3725 9143
Márcio Bugalho Domingues +44 (0)20 3725 9186

Reviews

“This superb composition in four parts, which constantly solicits the violin, is played by Akiko Suwanai, who, through her wide sound, ensures its virtuosity and true warmth, in music written with great harmonic knowledge and constant melody.” (Concerto.net, October 2017)

“Akiko Suwanai may be small in stature, but in no way did this impact on her ability to create a big sound or tackle complex, virtuosic passages. The way she approached the [Korngold’s Violin Concerto] opening with warmth, depth, and beauty, giving it such spine-tingling clarity, made one immediately realise that this was a very impressive soloist.” (Cut Common Magazine, April 2017)

“Hearing Akiko Suwanai play Mendelssohn's E minor Violin Concerto made one realize that this wonderful work's virtues are often taken for granted – the skilfully contrived transitions and the precise balance between lyricism and dynamism.  Suwani's lithe playing, refulgent tone and impeccable taste ensured that those qualities received their due.”  (Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post, October 2016)

“This superb composition in four parts, which constantly solicits the violin, is played by Akiko Suwanai, who, through her wide sound, ensures its virtuosity and true warmth, in music written with great harmonic knowledge and constant melody.” (Concerto.net, October 2017)

“Akiko Suwanai may be small in stature, but in no way did this impact on her ability to create a big sound or tackle complex, virtuosic passages. The way she approached the [Korngold’s Violin Concerto] opening with warmth, depth, and beauty, giving it such spine-tingling clarity, made one immediately realise that this was a very impressive soloist.” (Cut Common Magazine, April 2017)

“Hearing Akiko Suwanai play Mendelssohn's E minor Violin Concerto made one realize that this wonderful work's virtues are often taken for granted – the skilfully contrived transitions and the precise balance between lyricism and dynamism.  Suwani's lithe playing, refulgent tone and impeccable taste ensured that those qualities received their due.”  (Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post, October 2016)

“Unfailingly assured and polished” (Peter Dobrin, Philly.com, April 2016)

“…It was her sheer warmth and communicative skills that made the difference. In the Larghetto Suwanai again let the music breath unhurriedly: there was an improvisational quality in her playing, a gentle poetry that was most moving. In the finale she brought a joyous quality to the triple rhythm: in her hands the music had a dance-like nature.”  (Alan Sanders, Seen and Heard International, February 2016)

“Akiko Suwanai is, moreover, a superb soloist in the Violin Concerto. She plays with a swirling virtuosity which, in a perfectly natural way, works alongside the objective harshness of the work, and you can hear the free-spirited thinking described by Carl Nielsen as the glorious boundaries of our freewill. "It demands you to listen, look, think, be silent, weigh and choose.” (Magnus Haglund, Göteborgs-Posten, June 2015) 

“The poco adagio was sublime… Her Nielsen was pure virtuosity (oh, the cadenzas!)… Suwanai has reached the top level of artistry and here in Asturias we have been lucky enough to witness her ascent during these past six years.” (Diana Diaz, La Nueva Espana, April 2015)

“The orchestra seemed to wrap itself around soloist Akiko Suwanai, a wonderful player who seemed rather more wonderful with the Philadelphians framing her.”  (David Patrick Stearns, Philly.com, May 2014)

“Suwanai was the sensation, with her overwhelming technical exhibition, which she developed naturally and with conviction in the most intricate passages. But over all, the best was her innate musicality, her delicate and detailed phrasing, with a wonderful legato in the Canzonetta, full of velvety nuances.” (Andres Moreno Mengibar, Diario de Sevilla, May 2013)

“Her commitment and dexterity proved persuasive, above all in the taxing finale.” (Tim Ashley, The Guardian, January 2013)

“Akiko Suwanai's interpretation of Mozart's Violin Concerto No.5 is technically brilliant and very powerful. Her tone is strong, never thinning out at the tip of the bow. Suwanai's deep sound and her categorical creative power makes this work an abundant and festive tableau.” (Neue Luzerner Zeitung, November 2012)

“Suwanai’s Sibelius was as evocative as it could have been. With a rare ability to combine precision and long-bowed resonance, Suwanai is an obvious match for this serious work...hers was a performance that reached deep into the heart of the music.” (The Scotsman, October 2011)

“The full orchestra assembled for the evening’s centrepiece, Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1 in G minor. Akiko Suwanai, a tall, imposing violinist of striking stage presence, raised her bow for a sombre, intense descent of notes at the start: this was big-boned, noble playing, with its rhythmic life taut and rigorous. Long-sighted phrasing gave an equal sense of wide tracts of space and time in the slow movement. The strength of every idea was beautifully placed and poised before a finale thrilling in its perfection of pitch and pacing.” (The Times, May 2011)

“Seeing such a talented young violinist play this, the last of Mozart’s five authentic violin concertos, with such an instrument was pure joy. As Akiko took her lead from the Maestro, her great skill and lyricism went in perfect partnership with the Philharmonia, who allowed her to articulate the themes of Mozart’s work with a maturity seldom seem in one so young.” (Gazette, April 2011)

“Seven by Eötvös refers to the number of astronauts who were killed in the space shuttle Columbia disaster. It is a violin concerto first performed in Lucerne in 2007 with Akiko Suwanai as the soloist. She was on hand Friday night in Powell Hall for its United States première, giving a stunning, virtuosic performance while playing a Stradivarius once owned by Jascha Heifetz.” (Stltoday.com, January 2011)

“…the most perfectly voiced account of Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto from Akiko Suwanai who plays the 'Dolphin' Stradivarius previously owned by Heifetz…Suwanai was at her best in her poised account of the marvellous theme which opens the Andante assai central movement.” (Classicalsource.com, November 2010)

 “…it did with the astonishingly accomplished Akiko Suwanai in attendance. Her playing, her sound, was so very “present” that all those dramatic contrasts between the expensively lyrical and the astringently impulsive seemed that much more fantastical. But it was in those rhapsodic counterpoints to the second movement’s ravishingly unassuming melody that the fantasy in Suwanai’s playing really kicked in, soaring on uninhibited portamenti whose glamour seemed entirely in keeping with the figure-hugging satin she wore so well.” (The Independent, November 2010)

“Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto [was] rendered by the soloist Akiko Suwanai in a manner magically allying the full-blooded and the silvery.” (The Sunday Times, April 2010)

“Suwanai belongs to those artists who strive for clarity above all. Her playing is pure sound, pure energy.” (Schweinfurter Tagesblatt, April 2010)

“Her sound is large and powerful, the phrases… are elegant and of effortless simplicity.” (Classic Toulouse, October 2009)

“Akiko Suwanai played with confidence and very thoughtfully… her tone and her legato are certainly admirable.” (ConcertoNet.com, September 2009)

“[Eötvös' Seven] was judiciously realised by Akiko Suwanai, who premiered it at last year's Lucerne Festival. Projecting the solo line against such an instrumental array in this acoustic cannot have been easy, but her technical control and tonal refinement were never in doubt” (Classicalsource.com, August 2008)

“Eötvös’ Violin Concerto Seven received a sublime and wonderfully sounding world premiere with violinist Akiko Suwanai and Pierre Boulez. The violinist conjured up beautifully precise phrases.” (Neue Züricher Zeitung, September 2007)