> [Archived] Interviews
Interview with pianist Mihai Ritivoiu about the anniversary recital – 25 years of Radio România Muzical (II)
On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, Radio România Muzical organizes a series of anniversary events. On March 24th, pianist Mihai Ritivoiu will give a recital in which he will perform pieces by Franz Schubert, Franz Liszt, Maurice Ravel, Frederic Chopin, but also a composition of his own, written in 2021, inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many pianists from international stages see the Romanian Dinu Lipatti as an absolute model in what performing is concerned. How do you view Dinu Lipatti, all the more so as you approach a romantic repertoire in which Lipatti excelled?
Yes, Dinu Lipatti's recordings… I always go back to them. When I listen to Dinu Lipatti's recordings, I always discover and learn something new. So, they are somehow like a source of inspiration and not for nothing are they regarded with such admiration anywhere in the world, and since I've been in England, I've had discussions with many musicians and music lovers who share the same thoughts. Yes, he is a model and of course that does not mean that he should be imitated, because that is not what we are looking for when trying to reach our own way of performing, but the understanding what a genius pianist like Lipatti did, is a process from which one can learn a great deal about performing.
In 2011, following some recordings made for Radio România, you were describing the experience of working with the Radio Orchestra as an extraordinary one. How has your relationship with the National Radio Orchestra evolved since then?
It was an intense experience, with positive results for three days when we recorded Concerto No.2 by Rachmaninoff, which creates a connection. Indeed, I haven't collaborated with the Radio Orchestra since then, also because of the pandemic that made impossible a concert with Beethoven's Symphony No.3 that was planned for 2020, which would have been a beautiful remembrance of the Lipatti contest. However, I would always be happy to collaborate again with this orchestra, which I have listened to countless times as a spectator in the hall and which I admire and care about a lot.
A year later after this moment when you left Romania and continued your musical studies in London where you are still settled. How was your adaptation to being a Romanian pianist elsewhere?
Of course, leaving Romania, as you said, was not easy and it doesn't seem so even now. There is always a desire to spend more time in Romania, but of course the fact of arriving in London was something extremely interesting and stimulating for me. It being such an important musical centre, I had the opportunity to attend many extraordinary concerts, but perhaps more importantly, to perform in masterclasses with great artists such as Emmanuel Ax or Richard Goode; all this was possible at Guildhall School where I studied. And of course, getting there as a Romanian pianist, I realized I could be absolutely proud of what I had learned in Romania, of the basis that I had, and I practically continued finding my personal piano voice and discovering new solo and chamber music repertoires. So, I experienced it as a natural continuation of my work and for sure London is a city I really like, and I remember when I first landed there to take the Guildhall School entrance exam, I had a feeling that this is a place where I would like to live.
In addition to collaborating with the Radio Orchestra, you have been and are frequently invited to the microphone of Radio RomâniaMuzical, and your recordings have a special place in the programme of our shows. How do you particularly describe your connection with Radio România Muzical?
I am extremely touched whenever I notice that Radio RomâniaMuzical broadcasts my recordings. It is a special connection, because I was helped at the beginning of my career by these recordings and by their broadcasting, and I am very grateful for that, so I can only say that it is a special relationship and even more so I feel extremely touched and honoured to have the opportunity to give this recital in this context.
Your official website announces that you also offer online courses for interested pianists. When did you start working with learners and who can benefit from these courses?
I've been working with learners for quite some time, relative to my age, say, 10 years, I don't know if it's a long time, but it's an activity that I like. There are times when I can deal more with this and there are other times when performing takes precedence and then I deal with it less. However, I have given lessons to different students and pupils, of different levels and backgrounds and it is something very interesting, it stimulates your thinking to be able to explain something that maybe you did not consider explaining in words before. And of course, in a way, anyone can benefit from these lessons if I have the time. The only thing that I consider important is for the person to be someone who really has an interest in discovering music themselves, whether it is someone who does this at a high level or even an amateur. I am always open and willing to try my best helping.
In March, at the Genuin record label in Leipzig, you released the CD Transcendence. A lot of concerns, recitals, piano lessons, recordings, how do you divide your time for all these activities? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I would say in a word, from necessity. When I stay and think, I would like, for example, to record a CD, at first there is an idea, then I realize that it takes a lot of time and organization and all sorts of extra-musical elements, but eventually I find a solution. I don't know how to answer, because I don't think I am really a role model in terms of organization. Many times, I end up in some extreme situations and even with this CD it was a bit funny, because I was somehow a kind of project manager, I took care of renting the room and the piano and I contacted the record company. The recorder came to England and we met at the location I rented for the recording, and I realized that there were certain noises in that church during the day, because of a swarm of bees, which made the recording impossible and that was a moment of almost absolute standstill, some fairly significant sums of money spent per day being at stake. Well, we found a solution in the end, we decided to record at night or starting at eight o'clock in the evening, when these bees stopped making sounds. And I'm telling you this as a parenthesis and as a story of sorts of things that I did not imagine I had to think of as a pianist and that appear, but this diversity of activities is also a source of my energy. I really want to do different things and to get out of a certain routine. Of course, the key is to always find the time to study, because otherwise, if you don't do that, things start to get shaky and then nothing else works properly. And I am adding to the list you mentioned, the fact that in the meantime I started studying conducting and I will have in May the first concert in which I will play the piano and conduct at the same time, a Mozart concert, in Florence.
You are one of the Heirs of Musical Romania, as at the age of 32 you are considered to be one of the most important young Romanian pianists, with a relevant international career, which took you on big stages in Europe and Asia. The Romanian audience does not know you as well as the foreign audience does. How would you yourself characterize the pianist Mihai Ritivoiu?
Well, that's pretty difficult. I think it would be difficult for anyone to speak objectively about themselves. I think I tend to be a rather introverted individual and one that is constantly fascinated by music and what I hope and wish is that through all the activities I do, I manage to communicate this to the people I come in contact with, as well as to transmit them this fascination and desire to discover music more and more.
Translated by Ecaterina Bucovanu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu