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Essay “The Sound of the Heart”

February , 2021
The Maestro, Tateno Izumi

A dream collaboration with the piano master, Maestro Tateno Izumi has been realized.
Our duo concerts were held once last year and once last month.
I have always admired Maestro Tateno for a long time and have been listening to his music from a distance but when I got to know him through the duo concerts, I was surprised in many ways by his personality.

Maestro Tateno Izumi is now 84 years old.
In 2002, he suddenly collapsed from a cerebral hemorrhage, which left him paralyzed on his right side of the body.
But in the following year, he made a comeback in a music festival. He made a return to the stage as a pianist who plays only with his left-hand. He had come back by confronting the piano with his left-hand alone.
There are of course, piano pieces composed for the left-hand only. Some composers have left masterpieces for the left-hand, but even so, we imagine that the number of compositions is limited.
However, the new life of Maestro Tateno as a left-hand alone pianist which started at the age of 74, took off at a brisk pace. He commissioned works for the left-hand piano to many composers and performed those new compositions one after the other.
New works were born not only for the solo piano but also for duos and chamber music, with various instruments.
Amongst them are duo pieces with the violin.
In the concert last month, we played 3 jazz-like pieces named “Sketches of Jazz II” by Tanikawa Kensaku,
2 pieces from “5 Landscape Paintings” by Kubo Tadashi and in addition to those, we also played the classic favourites like Massenet’s “Meditation – Thais” and “Air on the G String” , Fauré’s “Après un rêve”. In these 3 popular classic pieces, Maestro Tateno plays the notes as they are, only with his left-hand. As they are not composed for the left-hand alone, it is so difficult and almost impossible to perform with one hand. It is quite impossible.
At our first rehearsal for the concert, Maestro Tateno bravely challenged playing those pieces, but I allowed myself to suggest “Why don’t we stop playing these pieces in the concert?” to him with all due respect.
However, Maestro Tateno responded firmly saying “No, I’m determined to play no matter what!” and smiled mischievously, “I’ll practice” and gave me that gentle smile. I was really touched and surprised by how amazing Maestro he was.
Yes, Maestro Tateno Izumi is always so gentle, quiet and calm.
He never raises his voice in anger and is never in a hurry or irritated. When he is at the piano, you can see his intense concentration and the music never ends.
He never hesitates to play a note that seems physically impossible to play. Maestro Tateno Izumi’s spirit of never giving up and keep challenging is an inspiration to people with all sorts of walks of life, from around the world.
“I’ll practice more to play better”.
The Maestro laughs saying this, and plays it, and makes great music. He is truly too cool!