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Interview with pianist Mihai Ritivoiu about the anniversary recital - 25 years of Radio România Muzical

Monday, 14 March 2022 , ora 8.47

Mihai Ritivoiu, you are invited on March 24th to give a recital at the Radio Hall, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of our station. Before we talk about the program, how did you receive this invitation?

With great joy, not only for the fact that I think it will be my first concert in Romania since the beginning of the pandemic, but also for the fact that I grew up listening to Radio România Muzical, which means a lot to me and now I have the honour to sing in this recital related to the anniversary of this post.

You will perform works signed by Franz Schubert, Franz Liszt, Maurice Ravel, Frederic Chopin, but also your own composition, written in 2021, inspired by the COVID 19 pandemic. On what criteria did you associate the first four works in the program? We would like to discuss your own work separately, because this side of you- composition- is very interesting, in addition to that of a performer.

I happened to have a period last year in which I dealt quite a lot with Schubert's music and somehow I had this idea of ​​juxtaposing Schubert's works with the works of some composers who were inspired by Schubert and who admired him, although it can be said that during his life he did not receive the recognition he deserved, but for example Liszt admired him so much and wrote so many transcripts, including these two beautiful lieds that I put in the program, Dubist die Ruh and Erlkonig. I found it interesting to juxtapose a little-known work by Schubert, The Noble Waltzes, with the famous work Noble and Sentimental Waltzes by Ravel and somehow, let's see the origin of this idea and of this title which Ravel chose. Finally, remaining somehow in the theme of dances in the second half of the recital to end with the famous and beautiful Barcarolle by Chopin.

We now turn our attention to the work composed by you inspired by the COVID 19pandemic. What is the story of the work, but also of the connection with the compositional area? We all know that the pandemic period has left a considerable mark on the artistic life. Was it all a moment of impulse or was it an older, unrealized desire?

Yes, the composition. Not many people know, but composition was part in my life a long time ago, when I was in high school, I was taking lessons with the composer and teacher Valentin Petculescuand then I even thought to study it seriously as a main subject, maybe at the Conservatory, but I put this activity aside for quite a few years and somehow it was something I missed. Now, of course, during the pandemic, we all had more time and it was an opportunity for me to go back to composing, which I do mainly for myself. This was a perfect opportunity to start composing again. Of course I do not and I will not claim to be a composer, like those who dedicate their lives to this and even innovate the musical language in a substantial way, but I would like to be a pianist who composes. I wanted and still want and this is how this piece was born, entitled Wondering / Pilgrimages or walks, let's just say, there was a time when the only way to get out of the house was to go for a walk in nature or in the city and I often went, almost walking in circles, so that I could put my thoughts in order. Now, they seem minor compared to what can happen. But going back to my piece, as an artistic expression, let's say, to these walks and thoughts that also revolved in a circle, somehow I wrote this short piano piece and I thought a lot about whether or not to include it in the program and I said I'm sure I'll include it in a masterpiece program, and maybe it would be appropriate to put my piece rehearsal there as well. Eventually I decided to put it in because I thought it had a somewhat more personal note, especially after this long absence from the concerts, it might be a good idea.

Mihai Ritivoiu, you are frequently on the international stage. Do you feel that the way you approach a new piece has changed in some way with the passage of time and the accumulation of concert experience?

Yes, of course. You are bound to become more systematic with the passing of time. To recognize that there are methods and certain steps to go through and this mirage of the deadline and the resolution of things at the last minute must be overcome somehow because otherwise the stress becomes much more than necessary. So, I try now, as far as planning allows, to give myself more time for new works so that I can go through all the stages of learning in an organic way and feel at ease when I sing them.

We return to the collaboration with Radio România Muzical. In 2010 you won the Lipatti Days piano competition, in the senior category, with an international jury awarding you first prize. How do you remember that first experience on the Radio Hall stage?

It was an extremely positive experience. I then sang in the final the first part of the concert no. 3 by Beethoven with maestro Cristian Mandeal and the Romanian Youth Orchestra and was for me an example of positive emotions, in which it does not create panic, but it almost helps the artistic act and how some associations are made in our minds. Of course, we were left with very positive feelings about the stage of the Radio Hall and even about this space behind the stage, which we can often associate with nervousness or emotions and stress before a concert and somehow, this first positive experience, it always makes me remember when I am behind the scenes of the Radio Hall and I feel good.

Interview by Maria-Isabela Nica
Translated by Elena Patricia Măroiu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu