“Midori... is a complete artist who knows what she wants. Her playing here had an intriguing mix of qualities. Rising scales and intricate passagework would unfold with almost mystical repose...Yet she could also be impetuous, rushing ahead during a fleet run or prolonging a melodic phrase. Her liberties seemed the result of deliberate decisions, not Romantic flights...The Larghetto second movement [of Beethoven's Violin concerto] was beautiful, played with pensive calm and tenderness...during the Rondo...Midori took more chances, tossing off the jaunty tune and digging into thick chords. That she still reaches audiences was clear from the warm ovation she received.”
-The New York Times
“... Her Tuesday recital [was] full of challenging repertoire and risk-taking performances, plus great imagination and depth...The mysteries of the night were a running theme...The recital could easily have gotten lost in abstraction that leads to obscurity. But Midori's thoughtfully regulated vibrato and color maintained crucial interpretive specificity. Daringly, she took the music away from surface descriptive elements and into deeper realms of the unexplainable.”
-The Philadelphia Inquirer
Since her debut at the age of 11 with the New York Philharmonic 32 years ago, the violinist Midorihas established a record of achievement which sets her apart as a master musician, an innovator,and a champion of the developmental potential of children.
Last season she added two new recordings - one of which won a Grammy - to her extensive catalogue of CDs, and this season she will make two new recordings, one of Bach solo sonatas and partitas and one of the violin concerto DoReMi by Peter Eötvös with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and the composer conducting.
Other notable events this season are residencies, the first at Ravinia, where she served as both soloist with the Chicago Symphony and faculty member at the prestigious Steans Institute; the second, at the Lucerne Festival, where she was named Artiste Étoile, she played the world premiere of Oskar (Towards a Brighter Hue II), a new violin concerto composed for her by Johannes Maria Staud; and the third, a series of concerts at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, combining recitals of new music and standard repertoire with a special concert for seniors and another featuring four violin concertos in a single programme.
Recital engagements include Bach solo sonatas and partitas in London and concerts with pianist Özgür Aydin in Paris, Düsseldorf and Tokyo, and she will perform in concert with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Russian National Orchestra, the Dresden Staatskapelle and the Schleswig Holstein Festival Orchestra.
In North America, engagements include concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Montréal Symphony, and the NY Philharmonic at the orchestra’s residency in Vail. To this and her many other commitments she continues her position as Distinguished Professor of Violin and Jascha Heifetz Chair at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.
Today Midori is recognized as an extraordinary performer, and also as a devoted and gifted educator and an innovative community engagement activist. In 1992 she founded Midori & Friends, a non-profit organization in New York which brings music education programmes to underserved New York City schoolchildren in every borough each year. Two other organizations, Music Sharing, based in Japan, and Partners in Performance, based in the U.S., also bring music closer to the lives of people who may not otherwise have involvement with the arts. Her commitment to community collaboration and outreach is further realised in her Orchestra Residencies Program. In 2007, she was named a Messenger of Peace by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Midori was born in Osaka, Japan in 1971 and began studying the violin with her mother, Setsu Goto, at a very early age. Zubin Mehta first heard Midori play in 1982, and it was he who invited her to make her now legendary debut - at the age of 11 - at the New York Philharmonic's traditional New Year's Eve concert, on which occasion she received a standing ovation and the impetus to begin a major career. Today Midori lives in Los Angeles.
Her violin is the 1734 Guarnerius del Gesù ‘ex-Huberman’. She uses three bows - two by Dominique Peccatte, and one by Paul Siefried.
For more information visit www.GoToMidori.com
Midori is represented by Intermusica.
November 2014 / 520 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.
Ravinia Festival / Bach Begins
“It seems like only yesterday that the single-named violin virtuoso from Japan named Midori made her Chicago debut at Ravinia. In fact, that was 25 years ago, when she was all of 15. "A remarkable discovery" I called her back then, and remarkable she remains. The intervening years have hardly touched her physically and, if anything, have only deepened the artistry that went along with her astonishing technical gift.
On Tuesday night, she returned to Ravinia's Martin Theatre to present the first of two recitals devoted to the complete J.S. Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Unaccompanied Violin. No more daunting technical and musical challenge exists in the entire fiddle repertory, and Midori proved herself to be more than equal to the challenge. She is due to conclude her Bach marathon on Thursday evening. No one who appreciates violin playing at the highest level should miss this event.”
“With noble command, violinist Midori scales Bach's heavenly heights”
John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune, July 2012
Mitteldeutcher Rundfunk Leipzig / Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
“Midori played Mendelssohn’s violin concerto in E minor with a beautiful and brilliant tone, and a profound and slightly introverted character, which nonetheless had a unique strength and intensity.”
Leipziger Volkszeitung, February 2012
BBC Proms / City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Walton Violin Concerto
“Midori played [the Walton concerto] with such soft-grained lustre and delicate inflection that the sound itself seemed almost disembodied…I have rarely heard the sognando (dreamy) quality of this exotic, sun-kissed, music so sensuously addressed. Midori was an exotic bird, a humming bird not a lark in ascendancy… Playful rather than sardonic in the bravura writing, she nailed just about everything.“
Independent, August 2011
“Midori was the soloist in the Walton, a natural partner for Nelsons in her concern for flow and her eschewal of technical for emotional virtuosity. Indeed, the tenderness in the first movement was so deep and sensuous that one quite forgot its composer was an Englishman.”
Guardian, August 2011
“Her thoughtful approach made for an unusual dialogue with Nelsons and the orchestra, setting aside some of the more obvious warmth of this Italian-influenced work in favour of a fragile romance that yearned but never quite surrendered.
Midori’s little frame convulsed with the melodic spasms of the Andante, integrating even the bravura passages into her emotional narrative.”
The Arts Desk, August 2011
“At times the violin was barely a breath in the air but Midori also produced throatiness and exuberance. The second movement dance slinked sensually, the closing movement had comic opera humour: this performance had not an ounce of excess weight.”
London Evening Standard, August 2011
Bavarian Radio Symphony / Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
"Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra lead perfectly into Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, which was performed with passion and structural clarity by Midori and the BR musicians. This was largely down to Midori, who had no interest in clichéd interpretations. The slight Japanese violinist gave a volcanic performance. The fact that both violinist and conductor Mariss Jansons performed with an inner fire and an unerring and accurate realism of tone brought two often ignored facets of Tchaikovsky’s piece to the fore: his mastery of motifs and his pre-empting of the graphic sounds of Stravinsky and Shostakovich. The violin concerto revealed itself as a multi-facetted landscape of sound... an exceptional evening."
Suddeutsche Zeitung, October 2009
Philadelphia Orchestra / Britten Violin Concerto
"Goto's spirited performance, accented by a dramatic use of pizzicatos, roused the audience to a chorus of bravos."
Mainichi Daily News, June 2008
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra / Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
“Midori performed [Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor] with an intimate, chamber music quality, often leaning in close to the orchestra to explore subtle musical interactions. Her sound was extremely light and pure, projecting through the enormous hall even at soft dynamic levels.”
Cincinnati Enquirer, April 2008
Cleveland Symphony Orchestra / Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
"Midori gave a memorable performance drawing a standing ovation after just the first movement. The superstar violinist has a quality that sets her apart: She listens, and not just to her fellow musicians but to herself, paying rapt attention to a high phrase in the first movement, refining and enriching the tone as it was sustained. She was like a bel canto singer in the cadenza, handling the bravura passagework in astonishing fashion. But she also brought some grit to the old warhorse, attacking the finale with surprising ferocity..."
St. Petersburg Times, March 2008
National Symphony Orchestra/ Leonard Slatkin / Bartók Violin Concerto No.2
“Midori's playing was intense, assured and polished throughout. She clearly was comfortable with this difficult work and its many mood shifts, imbuing the concerto's spikier moments with deeper layers of meaning…”
Washington Times, October 2007
Symposium on Contemporary Music
"Her most persuasive strategy, not surprisingly, was her exquisite rendering of the music itself.
Here the importance of the performer in contemporary music became clear. Instead of serving as a vessel, faithfully carrying well-loved songs, intact, to an expectant audience, the artist is a kind of translator. The intensity on Midori's face, and in her body, as she played Kurtag or Lutoslawski, persuaded the listener that there was something to be discovered."
The New York Times, April 2006
LSO & Sir Colin Davis / Sibelius Violin Concerto
"…and if Davis was King Lear, then Midori was Cordelia in their performance of Sibelius's Violin Concerto. She was characteristically strong-willed, a free spirit throughout - particularly in the opening measures where the remoteness of her dynamics lent at ethereal quality. There was space and freedom and there were very personal, pliant phrasings. In the slow movement, her inwardness was affecting and we were all ears as she put it to rest, barely grazing the final glissando."
The Independent, December 2005
San FranciscoSO / Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1
“Midori was on hand to bring her incisive sound and fearless sense of lyricism to Prokofiev's First Violin Concerto ... Midori, as always, brought her considerable artistic arsenal to bear on the Prokofiev, delivering the hallucinatory first movement with sweet, slightly glassy tone and incomparable precision. She also dug into the central scherzo with winning ferocity.”
San Francisco Chronicle , September 2005
In recital with Charles Abramovic
“...Stylish even in extreme passion – Midori and Charles Abramovic delight their audience at the Mozarteum ... Whether in Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel, Tchaikovsky or Rautavaara, Midori has a technical finesses and certainty of style that are unmatched...”
Die Presse , August 2005
"...Midori invested herself in her emotionally laden playing, yet never dripping with sentimentality. And to finish with, a real heartwarmer: Tchaikovsky’s Valse-Scherzo, a virtuosic piece full of variety with a fully notated cadenza and many rapid passages of double stopping, which sounded most pleasant to the ear in Midori’s playing. The acrobatic passages were most expressive. You can play it differently, but not better – it simply has to be Midori...”
www.drehpunktkultur.at , August 2005
"...Why is her playing unmistakable? Firstly, for her very noticeable and considerable movement when playing, and then for her tender, delicate tone, forbidding all emotional excesses, movingly beautiful when piano and pianissimo, without heavy forcefulness when forte...”
Salzburger Nachrichten , August 2005
Prokofiev Violin Concerto No.1 with Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra
"...Violinist Midori pressed her cheek against her violin with great tenderness and allowed the first bars of Prokofiev’s violin concerto to blossom with melodic intensity. Later, she employed her whole super-slim body to do justice to the enormous demands of this work. In the second movement, the scherzo with its grotesque, scurrilous character, she vivaciously scrapes out devilish sounds, and plays with breath-taking virtuosity. Expression is more important than beauty, temperament than depth. Her silver tone in the tuneful third movement is full of lyrical sweetness and charisma..."
Westfälische Rundschau , June 2005
"...the kind of artist who charms her audience with her refined, fragile expertise; a graceful, beguiling tone.."
Ruhr Nachrichten , June 2005
London Philharmonic & Ingo Metzmacher / Beethoven Violin Concerto
“…Once launched upon her long lines, so finely spun, infinite in their pianissimo charms, it was as though an angel sang. And what poise! To sail with ease across the larghetto is one thing: to make the first cadenza unruffled as a pond is quite another … Midori’s almost other-worldly refinement and technique…”
The Times , March 2005
“…Midori’s refined tone and subtly poised expression had the orchestra responding with the air of an intimate conversation. The German word “innig”, an untranslatable description that transcends the self-centred overtones of “introvert” or “interior”, was made for this experience…”
The Independent, March 2005
Recital with Robert McDonald at the Barbican, London
“…At times the listener is tempted to close the eyes in order to hear the miracle for what it really is…Midori is one of the most unsparingly rigorous of musicians”
The Times , November 2004
Stockholm Philharmonic & Alan Gilbert / Sibelius Violin Concerto
“Midori’s playing in the dynamic lower register was impossibly quiet, forming the basis from which the intensity and passion of the first and especially the slow movement rose. The colourful soundscape of the Guarneri was at its most versatile in her hands…Midori created a resonant, Sibelianic earthy atmosphere in the lower registers which was carried into the orchestra. In the wildly virtuosic material of the finale this soloist conjured up a dance of the spirits.“
Helsingin Sanomat , September 2004
Recital with Robert McDonald, National Concert Hall, Dublin
“Bach’s Violin Sonata was so rewarding. It was straight, impeccable in technique and shape, and acutely aware of the three-part discourse between left hand, right hand and violin…The combination of technical facility and urbane good manners in the Saint-Saëns was neatly captured, and that was exemplified by the driving energy and perfect ensemble of the finale, and in the way Midori handled the long note that links the opening Allegro and the following Adagio. She made it so tantalising that one wished it could have gone on all night.”
Irish Times , April 2004
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra & Paavo Järvi / Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
“In the first half, Midori brought her extraordinary artistry to the Tchaikovsky Violin concerto. Her sound is not large, but it is refined and flawless, and her technique is spectacular. Hers was a deeply personal interpretation of Tchaikovsky…her first movement cadenza as a stunning high-wire act, with such gorgeous sound the audience seemed ot be holiday its breath. The slow movement was intimate and nostalgic, and she phrased with poetty and nuance. She dug into the finale robustly, playing with brilliance and breathtaking speed.”
Cincinnati Enquirer, February 2004
Philharmonia Orchestra & Jiri Bělohlávek / Dvořák Violin Concerto
“…bent double in the stormy rhetoric of the opening, Midori … took on the full might of the orchestra – and would then suddenly draw in her bow, and indeed the audience, for a moment of intimate duetting with the oboe … Midori’s irresistibly fine, intensely focused quiet playing came into its own…”
The Times, January 2004
“…Crouched like a gladiator, she launched herself at the music as if it was an animal she must tame; and tame it she did … but in the Adagio she conjured a wonderful air of gentle mystery … there was a chamber-like intimacy between orchestra and ensemble. Controlling the dynamics minutely, she was not afraid to let her violin almost – but never quite – sink into the orchestral textures…”
The Evening Standard, January 2004
Berlin Philharmonic & Mariss Jansons / Bruch & Mendelssohn Violin Concertos / Sony 87740
“…Overall, and in the face of formidable competition, this is a clear winner.”
Gramophone, January 2004
“The idiomatic emotional range of the Bruch is especially impressive, a significant performance that combines appealing dark tone and virtuosity oriented toward expression rather than showiness. The Mendelssohn is also persuasive, with a lovely slow movement.”
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 2003
“…Midori’s unfailingly sweet yet sturdy renditions of the solo lines hover as if in midair, making for a captivating light-and-dark contrast in both works.”
Boston Herald, August 2003
In recital with Charles Abramovic
“Midori and her accompanist Charles Abramovic lavished on us one wondrously effervescent run after the next. A tightrope act – across abysses, mastered in the most exquisite piano. And where others start to flounder, Midori’s music is obviously only just beginning.”
Tagesspiegel, November 2003
“Her playing possesses a soft, sleek, smooth tone … always moving and captivating … filled with tenderness, floating sensuousness with fine piano and pianissimo tones. A surprise of the most sublime nature!”
Neue Zürcher Zeitung, December 2003
Toronto Symphony Orchestra & Keith Lockhardt / Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
“The sheer musicality it still there, giving her playing the naturalness of breathing. She virtually sang her way through the concerto, its phrases seamlessly joined, its technical challenges seemingly non-existant for her.”
Toronto Star, October 2003
Milkwaukee Symphohy Orchestra & Andreas Delfs / Brahms Violin Concerto
“…Midori’s playing remains impressive. Her sound was focussed, her pitch was right on and her rhythm was utterly clear, even when she was bending in expressively.”
Milkwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 2003
In recital with Robert McDonald
“…Her colour spectrum from the faintest note, to dazzling sounds, to crunching bow attacks is exemplary. Even more noteworthy is her absolute security of intonation, even in the most intricate passages…”
Landshuter Zeitung, May 2003
The fusing of great concentration with filigree details allowed Midori and McDonald to turn this most technically difficult work into an exciting and gripping experience … Midori and Robert McDonald were scintillating in their dancing spirit, and they swept the audience away with their lively playing.
Süddeutsche Zeitung, May 2003
“…The perfection of Midori’s stupendous grip and bow technique, her sensitive tone … and Robert McDonald’s sophisticated piano playing aided the unwieldy work to have an un-dreamt-of effect…”
Schwetzinger Zeitung, May 2003
“…Apart from the enormous technical supremacy … Midori makes music of what ever she plays…”
Mittelbayerische Zeitung, May 2003
New York Philharmonic & Zubin Mehta / Elgar Concerto
“In the second half, Elgar's continuously rhapsodic Violin Concerto might have been a total contrast, from a point near in time: it was exactly contemporary with Webern's compact, dense and atonal Op. 6 pieces. Midori, the soloist, found certain Webernian features in the score: the vehemence an extreme pianissimo can convey, the sense of song in an instrumental line and even, in the finale, the bouncing of a three-note pattern into an upside-down form. Webernian, too, was the way her determination and tight control spoke volumes.”
New York Times, January 2003
National Symphony Orchestra & Leonard Slatkin / Elgar Concerto
“One wonders if there is a more purely and reliably satisfying violinist than Midori now before the public. In the 20th year of her career - which happens to be only the 32nd year of her life - she continues to play with an extraordinary mixture of youthful freshness and absolute technical assurance. She has just the sweet, solemn temperament for the Elgar work, and that, combined with her huge tone, judicious use of portamento phrasing, and the altogether sympathetic accompaniment of Slatkin and the NSO, made for a memorable conclusion to the afternoon.”
Washington Post, December 2002
20th Anniversary Album / Sony Classical 89700
“She plays the opening item, Hartmann's arrangement of Debussy's "La fille aux cheveux de lin" with such delicacy she seems simply to be musing to herself, and her simple gravity in Elgar's Chanson de nuit, the last item, taken steadily, turns it into a sort of prayer. Such an approach could easily have lapsed into sentimentality, but emphatically not so here. Kreisler's Spanish Dance La Gitana and his arrangement of Poldini's Poupée valsante make a delightful contrast, full of fantasy; and the longest of the pieces, Amy Beach's Romance brings the widest contrasts of dynamic and expression, making it far more than a salon piece.”
Gramophone, December 2002
Recital with Robert McDonald
“There's plenty of soul in her playing, and, what's more, she's managed to hold on to a distinctive style... Her most immediately obvious trademark is the way she launches herself into fierier passages with a no-holds-barred gusto... her interpretations are always thoughtful, her pacing is sure and sensitive, and she has a good rapport with her pianist, Robert McDonald.”
The Guardian, November 2002
French Recital Disc with Robert McDonald / Sony Classical 89699
“Dans ce récital de sonates francaises, c'est pourtant bien le brio, le panache et justement, la fantaisie qui conquièrent d'emblée. ... D'un bout à l'autre du disque, Midori et son partenaire de longue date Robert McDonald s'entendent à merveille. Dynamique commune, bel équilibre des voix, éloquence naturellement partagée font de leur association un véritable duo.”
Diapason, October 2002
Recital with Robert McDonald, Wigmore Hall (Fauré Violin Sonata)
“Midori captures perfectly the introverted passion found within its circular confines. There was an effortless, teasing flexibility to her line, mirroring the constantly fluctuating harmony. She used such subtle rubato to fuel climaxes as naturally as a bird rides the thermals; and amid the tug of rhythmic currents, even the simplest rising scale was made thrilling. No-one can sound more silken than Midori, but there is sinew there too.”
London Symphony Orchestra & Eschenbach / Bruch 1st Concerto
“She brought all her considerable might and musical intellect to this performance of Bruch’s first concerto, investing its opening vorspiel with heavy, lingering portent. Her deep sincerity, and the sense of a thoroughly worked-through interpretation, called to mind words Bruch used in describing his study of folk music: ‘with seriousness, perseverance and unending interest’.”
St Louis Symphony & Hans Vonk / Sibelius Violin Concerto
“Midori’s account of the Sibelius Violin Concerto opus 47 with Hans Vonk conducting the mighty St Louis Symphony Orchestra was one of those memorable occasions to witness sheer artistic genius. From the outset, Midori’s dignified and poised presence indicated the manner in which the complexity of the music would unfold. The Concerto, one of the most taxing in the repertoire, received an eloquent and spellbinding reading with Midori’s technical strength shining through to support the virtuosity of the work. Her consistent and beautifully weighted tone, with wide dynamics, perfectly graduated with innate musicality, resulted in a mature, emotionaly charged performance of immense beauty.”
Pittsburgh Symphony & Mariss Jansons / Dvořák Violin Concerto
“The sound is fine and lean and the technique as impregnable as ever. More important is the soundness and seriousness of the musicianship.”
New York Times
Recital with Robert McDonald, Carnegie Hall / Franck Sonata
“This was a remarkable performance … Midori made the opening melody so gentle, so fragile, you almost did not want to hear it for fear it would break in your ears. But music is tough as well as weightless … Midori kept up her fingertip handling, and yet, as in the Mozart, her musical expression was sure and large. There was a touching sense that much more was being implied than could be said, that here was someone smiling through tears – or weeping through laughter. The ambiguity was complete, and right.”
New York Times
Recital with Robert McDonald, Milan / Bach, Brahms, Debussy & Poulenc
“The other night she gave a truly wonderful recital at the Sala Verdi for the Società dei Concerti (accompanied by the pianist Robert McDonald), which was received with acclaim by the capacity audience. As a performer Midori seeks pure and simple beauty, displayed through a fascination of the senses. She approached four great composers – Bach, Brahms, Debussy and Poulenc – as though they were a single piece of silk, the caressing of which caused a thrill of pleasure.”
Corriere della Sera