YasukoMatsuzaki SvalaThis is the fifth interview in our series Weaving the Web of Finnish Orchestral Bassoonists. The series introduces some of the orchestral bassoonists from all over Finland. Each guest will get the same set of questions. Guest #5 is Yasuko Matsuzaki-Svala – sub-principal bassoon in the Finnish National Opera since 2007.

Did you play an instrument before you started playing bassoon?

I started to play Piano when I was 3 years old.

Who introduced you to music?

My mother introduced me to music. She was piano teacher and my father loves to listen classical music, so I could listen classical music always at home.

When did you start to play the bassoon, and where did you get the idea from?

I started to play Bassoon when I was 14 years old in the school wind orchestra. I liked the bassoon‘s sound and felt it was the easiest instrument to get the first sound from.

Who was your first teacher?

Mr. Yuzo Tsuda

When did you start to think about becoming a professional bassoonist?

After the first lesson I got such a strong feeling that I really want be a Bassoon player.

When you started to play, who was your favourite bassoonist?

Klaus Thunemann, I was listening to his CDs everyday.

What is currently your favourite recording of the Mozart Bassoon Concerto?

Absolutely Eberhard Marschall!!

If someone had to describe your sound in one or two words, what would they be? (you can cheat and ask someone for help with this one!)

Naturally singing ( I asked my husband, MP Svala. )

If you were limited to only one piece to play for the rest of your life, (solo piece for bassoon, or bassoon and piano) what would you choose?

Dutilleux Sarabande et Cortege

Who taught you how to make reeds?

Prof. Masayuki Okamoto, my teacher in Tokyo and Prof. Marschall, my teacher in Munich.

What reed shape do you use?

Rieger 1a

What is your favourite reed-thread colour?


What do you listen to (if anything) while you are making reeds?

I don’t listen anything. I need calm to concentrate.

What is your greatest extravagance spent on making reeds?

Having a nice cup of tea with.

What is your favourite reed-making tool?

Pregouging machine from Reeeds’n stuff

If you had to describe the world’s best bassoon reed, what would it be like?

Beautiful fatty sound for all registers with good intonation. And also easy to control the dynamic. :D

If you could change anything about the world of classical music, what would it be?

It would be great if every kid could have a chance to play one favourite instrument at elementary school.

What is the best advice you have gotten, and where from?

Play Bassoon like you are singing. My both professors in Tokyo and Munich have told me. It helps me always when I have a situation I’m too nervous for big solo or audition situation.

If you weren’t playing bassoon, what do you think you might be doing instead?

Patissier, food coordinator

What is the hardest part of your job in the orchestra?

I have to be ready to play many different kinds of music and also different parts at the same time and on the same day. It’s a fun but also challenging thing in my work.

Can you describe something an orchestra colleague should never say to a bassoonist?

It’s difficult question. I don’t know..

What is your favourite orchestral excerpt?

Bolero, Sacre, Tchaikovsky 4th

What is your favourite memory from a concert that you played in?

Almost 15 years ago I have played the Alpine symphony in Garmish Partenkirchen. It was an outside stage and the sunset came during the concert. The sun made the majestic Alpen nature even more beautiful and the mix of the beautiful music and such a landscape!! I never can forget that moment in my life.

What is the nicest thing another bassoonist has ever done for you?

He married me.

Every bassoonist seems to have a passionate hobby, what is yours?

I love cooking, especially traditional Japanese food for some festivals. And baking as well. Also Pilates has become my new hobby since 1 year ago.

Thanks Yasuko!

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