Out of Silence: A Pianist’s Yearbook

by Susan Tomes [スーザン・トムズ], Shunjusha [春秋社], June 2012 , Japanese translation by Noriko Ogawa [小川典子], 368 pages, ISBN 978-4-393-93562-0

Review by Lisa Ueda

Out of Silence traces a year in the life of a classical pianist in the form of a blog. Each entry develops a theme that has inspired her interpretation of a score or her performance of a piece of music. The essays are short, thought provoking, informative, and interesting (also see translation below Japanese review).

異なる楽器ではあるが、同じ音楽家・演奏家として心から共感する余り、私も訳者のあとがきに書かれているとおり、「膝を叩きながら」ページを次々とめくっていた。

世界中を飛び回る演奏家としての日常生活や経験を機に感じたこと・考えたことなどを率直に、気取らず着飾らずつづられた各エッセイは、忙しい現代人にとってはとても読みやすい長さ。

正直、演奏家に不安や心配は、つきもの。けれどもそれらを伏せて、自信満々に光を放つ、放とうとするのが舞台人。しかし演奏家も人間、調子のいいときや悪いときがあるのは当然。こういった不安や心配も含め、全てを率直に伝える。「これが私」とそのまま本音を伝えられるトムズ氏を演奏家として、いや、人間として尊敬してしまう。

音楽とは抽象的な芸術でなかなか言葉に言い表しがたいところも多々ある。が、そこをトムズ氏は巧みに言葉を操り、文章にしている。さらに、同じく世界を駆け巡るピアニストの小川氏の訳に脱帽する。文章をただそのまま訳しているのではないことが一目瞭然だからだ。訳には日本と英国の表現や文化の違いだけではなく、音楽の世界での文化・言語の違いや機微を優美に理解できる深い洞察力が求められる。両文化に造詣が深い小川氏でなければこの訳書はできなかったであろう。演奏家として、ロンドンっ子として、日本人として、聴衆として、音楽愛好家として等々、色んな視点から読んでみた。英国風な表現、言い回しや比喩は日本的にわかりやすく言い換え、文章の流れを妨げぬよう注を使っている。そんなところに小川氏の思いやりと細部へのこだわりも感じた。

『静けさの中から ― ピアニストの四季』は、トムズ氏の人間性がにじみ出ている。演奏家として共感できるだけではなく、考えさせられた。新たな視点からみることで開眼させられたことや、わかっていても思い返させられたこともあり、新鮮味があった。又、普段味わうことのない舞台裏を垣間見ているようで、「世界的ピアニスト」を身近に感じ、誰でも楽しめる一冊となっている。スーザン・トムズ氏、彼女の室内楽の仲間たち、小川典子氏の演奏会に出かけたくなった

小川氏はあとがきに「スーザンありがとう!という気持ちに歯止めがかからなくなった」と記しているが、今度は私が小川氏に「ありがとう!」と言いたい。

Although my own instrument is different, as a musician and performer I felt such a strong identification with this book that as I read on from page to page, I found myself “nodding vigorously,” as the translator says in her afterword. The essays in it describe frankly, unpretentiously and straightforwardly the thoughts and feelings of a globe-trotting performer in response to her daily life and experiences, and are short enough for even busy modern people to read.

In reality, performers are constantly plagued by worry and unease. But we hide all that when we’re on stage, and radiate confidence, or at least we try to. Performers are human too, so we naturally have our ups and downs. This book is honest about everything, including that worry and unease. Tomes simply says “this is how I am,” and writes exactly what she feels; you end up admiring her as a performer, or rather as a person.

As an abstract art form, music is often very difficult to write about in words, but Tomes’s writing weaves a spell. I also take my hat off to the translation by Noriko Ogawa, a pianist on the same global concert circuit – it’s immediately obvious that she’s not just translating the material literally.

To translate this book required the ability to see deeply and accurately into the linguistic and cultural differences and nuances not only between Japan and the UK, but also between their respective musical worlds. I think only Ogawa, with her deep knowledge of both cultures, could have managed it.

I read the book from a variety of perspectives – as a performer, as a Londoner, as a Japanese person, as an audience member, as a music-lover… Ogawa has rephrased the sometimes distinctively British idioms, phraseology and metaphors of the original text so that they are easily understandable in Japanese, and don’t interrupt the flow of the text.

 

Out of Silence: A Pianist’s Yearbook is shot through with Tomes’s humanity. I identified with her as a fellow-performer, but she also made me think. She made me see things from a new perspective, opening my eyes to some things I hadn’t noticed, and making me rethink others I thought I already knew about.

A further aspect of the book that anyone can enjoy is the exclusive peek it gives you at what life is like behind stage for a world-famous pianist. It made me want to attend Tomes, members of the trio, and Ogawa’s concerts.

In the afterword, Ogawa writes that ‘she couldn’t stop thinking ‘Thank you, Susan!’ – After reading the Japanese translation of the book, I feel it is my turn to say ‘Thank you, Noriko!’

Editor’s Note:

Susan Tomes is a pianist and writer. Renowned as a soloist and as a chamber musician, she’s the author of three books about performing music: Beyond the Notes (2004), A Musician’s Alphabet (2006) and Out of Silence: A Pianist’s Yearbook (2010), which has recently been translated into Japanese by concert pianist Noriko Ogawa.

The Japanese review was written by Lisa Ueda [植田リサ] ,  who is a violinist.

 

 

 

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