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Interview with pianist Mihai Ritivoiu

Thursday, 4 May 2023 , ora 12.44

Mihai Ritivoiu, you will be performing in Iași, in an event organized by the Gaudium Animae Cultural Foundation. In what context did you receive the invitation to perform this recital?

I received this invitation, which I am very happy about, from Cătălin Sava, whom I have known for many years. I remember that he wrote, during the Enescu Competition in which I participated in 2011, some very nice words about me, and I was always grateful to him. And recently, he interviewed me for a superb article he wrote, honoring the anniversary of maestro Valentin Gheorghiu who turned 95 years old. In the context of the discussions we had during this interview, he invited me to Iasi, where I will sing for the first time. I am very glad!

Wanderings is the title of the program you will present and also the title of the work you will perform at the end of the recital. Please give us details about this composition of yours.

It is the title of one of my compositions, which I wrote in 2020, during the pandemic. I can say that it was Cătălin Sava's idea to include this piece in the program. I sang it for the absolute premiere at the Radio Hall, during the season "The Heirs of Musical Romania". Sure, it's a work that I'm attached to; it is also related to a certain moment of this year 2020, which was very unusual for all of us, and it also reflects certain compositional searches of mine, certain oscillations between tonal music and a kind of atonality, certain polyphonic techniques. The title, Wanderings, means Peregrinations. We thought it to be a fit to the theme of the entire recital.

Are there any other compositions you have planned for the next period?

Yes. It's a part of my work that concerns me constantly, whether I'm modifying an existing composition or begin to work on a new one. But I'm also limited by time, by the fact that being a pianist takes a lot of time, so I'm not going to make any promises. However, I am constantly working and hope to include other pieces that are currently in the works in future recitals.

Returning to the recital you will perform at the Palace of Culture in Iasi, the program will be diverse. We will see you, therefore, as a composer, but also as a performer of baroque, classical, romantic and contemporary music. How exactly does this all tie into your program?

I would say there are connections... some more obvious and some more subtle. The program opens with a unique Bach work, the Chromatic Fantasy and the fugue in D Minor - unique in its drama and the improvisational nature of the fantasy, a work that I'am very attached to. And, on this Bachian line, after that I will play a contemporary piece by the French composer Stéphane Delplace, whose music is very much related to Bach. He wrote several notebooks of preludes and fugues and I will perform from these. Schubert is also part of the program; two Liszt transcriptions of Lieds by Schubert... and Mozart. These works are linked by their vocal nature and piano approach . And if we return to the title of Wanderings and Peregrinations, this idea is not far from Schubert at all. I can say that the polyphony at the beginning of my work takes a little inspiration from Bach's music.

In fact, it's not difficult to find any piece from any post-Bach era that draws inspiration in one way or another from Bach's music.

In the end, could you please tell us what your projects are? Where will you be performing in the following period ?

I have a few projects coming up for the next months that I'm really excited about. For example, in October, I will play Beethoven's Concerto No. 5 in Japan, in Tokyo. Before that, in September, I will have a recital at St. Martin in the Fields, again. In July I will be teaching a summer course in England, where I will also give a recital and probably include some of my own work. And in November, I will perform in Germany, a recital with a lot of Schubert music.

Photo: Petar Dimov

Interview by Larisa Clempuș
Translated by Denisa-Elena Cincă,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu