Hisaishi conducts the Wiener Symphoniker in his Symphony No. 2
live at the legendary Vienna Musikverein

World class violist Antoine Tamestit joins the performers in the recording of Viola Saga

“I sincerely wish for my own music to sound just as natural as the formation of clouds
or the growth rings of trees, which evolve slowly, in just the way they are supposed to”

Berlin, 5 April 2024 – On 30 March last year, Joe Hisaishi made his triumphant debut on the podium of a sold-out Vienna Musikverein, conducting a programme of his own works (available to stream on STAGE+ here). Deutsche Grammophon is now thrilled to announce the release of Joe Hisaishi in Vienna – the world-renowned and multi-award-winning Japanese composer, conductor and pianist’s second album for the Yellow Label. The new recording follows on from his immensely successful DG debut, A Symphonic Celebration – Music from the Studio Ghibli films of Hayao Miyazaki, one of the best-selling classical albums worldwide in 2023.

Joe Hisaishi in Vienna presents the world premiere recording  of the composer’s Symphony No. 2,captured live at the Musikverein with the Wiener Symphoniker. After this elevating experience Hisaishi came back to record another world premiere in Vienna: his Viola Saga, featuring renowned soloist Antoine Tamestit. Set for album release on Friday 28 June 2024 on CD, vinyl (2 LPs) and digital, the first single Viola Saga Movement 2 is released on Friday 5April.

Joe Hisaishi is known across the globe for his film music, in particular his collaborations with Studio Ghibli creator and two-time Oscar-winner Hayao Miyazaki on such movies as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and My Neighbor Totoro. In 2023, Hisaishi’s score for their latest feature, The Boy and the Heron, earned him his very first Golden Globe nomination. For his DG debut album he created symphonic arrangements of music from several of these soundtracks, achieving global chart success and widespread critical acclaim. His popularity is so great that he is due to headline three consecutive nights at Madison Square Garden this summer – the first classical composer ever to do so.

“Always challenging, uplifting and inspiring, the music from the various movies
is occasionally balanced by touches of melancholy and sadness.
Take a deep breath – and enjoy.”

All About Jazz, reviewing A Symphonic Celebration, February 2024

Over the decades, Joe Hisaishi has also earned great respect for his work away from the film world, having built up a wide-ranging catalogue of contemporary classical works. Many of these are inspired by minimalism and the experimental compositions of friends and colleagues such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Terry Riley, as well as by the rich musical heritage of Japan and Western classical traditions. This second DG album focuses on Hisaishi the concert-hall composer – highlighting the originality and versatility of his musical craftsmanship – as well as on his long-honed skill and sensitivity as a conductor.

Premiered in Kyoto in 2021, the minimalist Symphony No. 2 uses subtle repetition to dramatic effect, employing stark contrasts in rhythm and orchestral texture to create variation across its three movements. “Gustav Mahler is my favourite composer,” notes Hisaishi. “But our styles are entirely different. Mahler keeps introducing new themes, while we minimalists take one motif and work on it, changing it little by little, trying our best to make it last 20 minutes.” The composer-conductor was so pleased with the Wiener Symphoniker’s performance at the Musikverein that he chose to include the live version on this album.

A few months after the Vienna concert, Hisaishi returned to the Austrian capital to make the world premiere recording of his 2022 viola concerto with the same orchestra and soloist Antoine Tamestit. The composer greatly admires the French violist’s warm sound and unsurpassed technique, perfect for Viola Saga’s changing moods and demanding writing. Hisaishi and Tamestit have since gone on to give acclaimed live performances of the work in Macao and Osaka.

Also announced today (Friday 5 April 2024): Joe Hisaishi has been appointed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) as its Composer-in- Association, with effect from 6 April 2024. The appointment follows a successful collaboration on the ‘Symphonic Celebration’ album released on the Deutsche Grammophon label, after which the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra invited Joe Hisaishi to become its Composer-in-Association. The three-year appointment will include new commissions for the RPO, concerts in London and around the world, studio recordings as well as Maestro Hisaishi’s involvement in new digital and technology based RPO projects.’

Joe Hisaishi – upcoming tour dates:

6/7 April – Paris La Défense Arena (Music from the Studio Ghibli Films)

23 May – PSD Bank Dome, Düsseldorf (Music from the Studio Ghibli Films)

25 May – Olympiahalle, Munich (Music from the Studio Ghibli Films)

20/21/22 June – Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto (Works by Hisaishi and Ravel)

27/28/29/30 June – Symphony Center, Chicago (Works by Hisaishi)

11/12/13 July – Madison Square Garden, New York City (Music from the Studio Ghibli Films)

5/6/7/8 September – Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco (Music from the Studio Ghibli Films)

14/15/17 November – Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles (Works by Hisaishi)
23/24 November – Royal Albert Hall, London (Works by Hisaishi)

3/4/5 January 2025 – Verizon Hall, Philadelphia (Works by Hisaishi)