Duo Ykeda

The pair is a sight to behold, side by side at the piano: she, as delicate as an Egyptian dancing girl, all expressive suppleness; he, a slender figure whose motionless elegance masks an inner fire. Such a paradoxical association of differences is striking to see in a piano duo as closely knit as Tamayo Ikeda and Patrick Zygmanowski, both on stage and in real life.
Any repertoire for four hands is a challenge, for the artists must create the illusion of unity from their physical, emotional and psychological duality. But the personal history of Ikeda and Zygmanowski heightens the challenge. For on top of the shock of personalities there is the culture shock. Tamayo Ikeda came to Paris at the age of eighteen to perfect her playing, steeped in the codes of her Japanese education. Admitted to the Paris Conservatoire in 1989, she was awarded first prizes in piano and chamber music in 1993 and 1994 and continued her studies in the advanced-level course. Her intuitive, passionate style has won her many prizes, including the special Claude Debussy prizes at the Porto and Yvonne Lefébure International competitions and, in 1999, the first prize at the Francis Poulenc International competition.
Patrick Zygmanowski was a young Conservatoire student from an old Bordeaux family. As a student at the Paris Conservatoire, he was awarded first prizes in piano and chamber music in 1992 and 1993 and went on to study under Gerhard Oppitz at the Hochschule fur Musik in Munich for the next two years. He has won three first prizes in international competitions – the City of Paris International competition in 1994, and the FNAPEC competition and Henri Sauguet International competition the following year. In 2007, he received the prestigious Delmas Prize from the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Critics hail him as a sensitive, attentive pianist who lifts his partner aloft “like a ballet dancer with elegance and authority” (Le Monde de la Musique).

Twenty years later, the union of the two pianists has taken the form of a geographic intertwining: Having mastered Japanese, Patrick is a permanent guest professor at the College of Music in Osaka, while Tamayo has joined Patrick in his native Gironde as the joint artistic director of the Festival des Musiques Festiv’ in the Entre-Deux-Mers region. They perform at major venues such as the Salle Cortot in Paris, Tokyo’s Bunka Kaikan and New York’s Carnegie Hall. Their numerous tours have taken them to Indonesia, North America, Japan, South Africa, Morocco, and Eastern Europe, where audiences “love their acrobatic feats on the keyboard, their humor, the sheer showmanship of these piano jousts, and the superhuman perfection of their performances” (Arièle Butaux).
After making their first recordings of solo performances and chamber music, while continuing to appear on stage giving themed performances, they are devoting their first duet album to Schubert. But they also excel in the dazzling virtuosity that has become their trademark. To this end, Zygmanowski tirelessly transcribes major symphonic works. They have an abiding thirst for challenge: twenty virtuoso fingers transform the piano into an orchestra, and turn the keyboard into the stage of a ballet whose steps have been skillfully set down. They execute an unflagging pas de deux that goes “beyond the very idea of a duo in an exceptional, fascinating musical symbiosis” (Sud-Ouest). Their performance of Ravel’s Boléro or the Bohemian song from Carmen is like a dazzling choreography that brings performers and audiences alike to the verge of dizziness. In La Valse by Ravel or Le Sacre du printemps by Stravinsky (two of the composers featured in the duo’s recent DVD), the exhausting physical feat heightens the expression of the implacable musical tragedies. Tamayo Ikeda and Patrick Zygmanowski can metamorphose any performance into a visual treat. It’s not enough to listen to them -- you really have to see them. (Emmanuel Reibel)


Patrick Zygmanowski


The French pianist Patrick Zygmanowski was born in 1970, and began his musical studies at the age of six. He was awarded two First Prizes, for piano and chamber music, at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et Danse in Paris, where he studied with Jacques Rouvier, Jean Hubeau, Lev Naoumov, Menahem Pressler, and Pascal Devoyon as a graduate student.

Having been awarded a grant by the German government, he went on to study with Gerhard Oppitz at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne. His passion for chamber music led to three First Prizes at international competitions: the City of Paris International Competition in 1994, the FNAPEC competition, with the clarinettist Florent Héau, in 1995, and the Henri Sauguet International competition in 1995.

Critical acclaim has highlighted Patrick Zygmanowski’s attentive accompaniment, intelligence and humour. His playing has been described as lifting his partner with elegance and authority, as in a ballet (“Le Monde de la Musique”), and Zygmanowski himself as a sensitive artist with a delicate and expressive touch (“Classica”). 

He has taken part in numerous festivals, including the Roque d’Anthéron festival, the Musique en Côte Basque festival, the Académie Maurice Ravel in Saint Jean de Luz, Midem in Cannes, the Rencontres Musicales en Lorraine, the Orangerie de Sceaux festival, the MusicAlp festival, the Flâneries Musicales de Reims and the Young Artists Festival in Kyoto. 

Patrick Zygmanowski has played with many French orchestras and has also made international appearances as a soloist in Finland, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Korea, South Africa, Vietnam, USA and Indonesia. He has appeared with leading French and international soloists, including Roland Daugareil, Florent Héau, Michel Michalakakos, Sébastien Guèze, Jean Ferrandis, Tamayo Ikeda, Roland Pidoux and Romain Garioud.

His discography includes a recording of French music for clarinet and piano with Florent Héau (Lyrinx, 1995), as well as a complete set of Brahms and Reger sonatas, also with Florent Héau (Zig Zag, 2003), which met with universal acclaim in the press (Diapason said “our young performers speak the musical language of Brahms with admirable naturalness, poetry and delicacy of touch”). Forthcoming discs will feature music by Schubert [Duo YKEDA, Warner-Lontano, 2009]

Zygmanowski also teaches at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris. He won the Institute of France Delmas prize in 2007.

Tamayo IKEDA


Tamayo Ikeda was born in Japan in 1971, and began playing at the age of three. She joined the Toho Gakuen institute 1986 and she moved to France to complete her studies at the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris, where she studied piano with Jacques Rouvier and chamber music with Régis Pasquier. She was awarded two first prizes in these disciplines before joining the higher studies class of Pascal Devoyon.

Tamayo Ikeda is the beneficiary of a grant from the APEF and the Société Générale Bank, and has received valuable advice from leading artists such as Dimitri Bashkirov, Halina Czerny-Stefanska, Léon Fleisher and Maria Joao Pirès.

Her intuitive yet structured playing style adds poetry, charm and coherence to her interpretation.. Her unique approach to the repertoire has been rewarded in many competitions, including Second Prize and the special Claude Debussy prize at the Yvonne Lefébure International competition (no first prize was awarded that year), a special prize at the Porto International competition, and both First Prize and the special Casadesus prize at the Francis Poulenc International competition.

Tamayo Ikeda has appeared at a number of major European festivals, in South Africa, Russia, Indonesia and at prestigious venues such as the Carnegie Hall in New York. She has appeared on several television and radio programmes.

Her discography includes a recording of works by Poulenc and Fauré, Arcobaleno, 2001 as well as a compact disc of Stockhausen sonatas with the clarinettist Jean-Philippe Vivier [Solstice, 2001] and a compact disc of works by Schubert [Warner-Lontano, June 2009]


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