Masatoshi Yamaguchi, Pianist
This gifted pianist also had made the fantastic magic which can never break to Japanese audience. When Alexei Sultanov finished playing piano, applause and shouts of bravo did not stop. It seemed continue forever. The stage with dim rights had become bright again. Then Alexei appeared and played an encore to acknowledge the audience's standing ovation.
That was the scene at Alexei Sultanov’s recital which I experienced for the first time at the Osaka symphony hall in 1997. At that time, I too clapped for him intensely, without thinking about the day when I would play the piano at his memorial concert that would come several years later.
I first heard his music in the documentary film of the Van Cliburn international piano competition in 1989. I understood that this bantam musician and piano had naturally become one perfect musical instrument. His music had the charisma of the great V.Horowitz, adding his attractive tone, beautiful lyric, sensitivity, and the gush of energy from the piano: they seemed to dominate all in the hall. When I heard him play the F. Lisｚt / Mephisto waltz no.1, S.Prokofiev / Sonata no.7 and S. Rachmaninov / piano concerto no.2 which he played, I was so excited and I couldn’t control my trembling heart filled with emotion. They were a shock to me, a piano student in those days.
The news that Alexei Sultanov won the Chopin international piano competition in 1995 immediately went around over our country. He had a Japanese concert tour in 1996, and tickets were sold out in an instant so I accepted bitter tears of disappointment because I wanted to listen to his live performances very much. Finally my dream came true, I got the ticket for Alexei Sultanov’s Osaka recital in 1997.The program was all Chopin’s works. Fortunately, I could also get the ticket for his Tokyo recital in 1999. They were indeed unforgettable times. I was looking forward to his next visit to Japan in all innocence. Little did I know that on June 30th 2005 a day of sorrow would come.
However, Alexei's worldwide fans love him forever and never forgot their great pianist. They started actions. Japanese fans acted on his behalf too. They held four concerts honoring him since 2008. The concerts were supported by the passion of volunteers loving and respecting him. I was invited as a pianist to these concerts; on June 30th 2008 and August 7th 2010 twice. It was my honor to play with my gratitude for my dear virtuoso; Alexei Sultanov.
I arranged for the duet of “Alexei’s song” which he improvised at a hotel in Tokyo, and I played it with my wife Ayumi. Further more I played Liszt / Horowitz “Hungarian Rhapsodies no.2 “and some Scriabin’s works and which were Alexei’s favorites. My wife and I made up our programs on happy memory of the first meeting of Alexei & Dace. We chose the pieces in our performance from the program of the legendary V. Horowitz’s concert in Moscow in 1986. Surely you know about their happy fairy story on the slippery roof of Moscow conservatory hall.
As for the CD “ Live in Riga” which was released in 2004 - Riga is the capital of Latvia where Alexei's wife, Dace was born. After his illness, it was made by fans hoping of his comeback. I was willing to cooperate by liner note writing on the CD’s booklet. There is only one will of fans “for our Alexei!”
Absolutely the genius pianist Alexei Sultanov was loved by audience. In addition, I think that he gave everything to his brilliant ability on the stage for his audience. I wish to spread “the passion and devotion to the music” of Alexei Sultanov who continued the challenge of a comeback from the sickbed with his spirit of “Never-give-up!”. I wish that the future young people will find the real worth of his great performance through such the fans activities. I am reminded of his warm smile whenever I looked at his autograph that I have.
The memories of Alexei Sultanov will continue to be the spiritual food for my pianist life. Lastly, I would like to express my heartily thanks and respect to Dace; Mrs. Sultanov, who always loves her husband faithfully and always stands by her Aliosha.