On the occasion of the 200th Birthday anniversary of Franz Liszt (1811-1886), Mr. Ritzen, acclaimed Liszt interpreter, engaged in a series of concerts in Europe and China with an extensive Program of the great master.
Mr. Ritzen choose a program of pieces for a „Bicentennial Liszt Edition“, which are rather rarely played, nowadays. The Album is centered on Transcriptions, of which the II. Ballade (composed in 1853) is the exception. Nevertheless; Rigoletto Fantasy, a Paraphrase (which differs from transcription in approach and concept!) on famous themes of Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) his Opera; is perhaps the most popular, well known and most often played piece, here, on this Album.
The Tre Sonetti del Petrarcha from Années de Pèlerinage (Italy), are perfect transcriptions of earlier songs by Liszt. The 4 Transcriptions on Richard Wagner (1813-1883) his famous Opera ‚Lohengrin’ (a work, finished in 1845) are certainly the core of this recording here.
It unmistakably marks Ritzen’s prime choice as a ‚Wagnerian’ pianist. But also as a polyphonist; interpreting scores to the harmony and a labyrinth of voices, rather than the purely text. The last one, being a typical stone mark of the modern ‚competition’ pianist.
The CD ends with one of the most touching songs of Franz Schubert (1797-1828). Ave Maria, which meant a lot to Franz Liszt, and, in fact, it’s performer here.
In 2008, the Ministry of Culture of Flanders (the Northern part oft he Kingdom of Belgium) sponsored four CD productions around Peter Ritzen.
This spectacular left hand piece, has an almost as spectacular autobiographic story as well! In 1848, the year of the revolution in Vienna, [Theodore Leschetizky was among the ‘reformist’ students on one side, while his friend, Johann Strauss was playing the military band on the royal law enforcement side!] Leschetizky got involved in a dramatic duel due to a malicious love story. Theodore, got shot.. in his right arm. He fled the country [coinciding with the political developments] and went to Italy. There in Toscana, Leschetizky had another romance, with a flamboyant Contesse. In a meantime, he became familiar with the great Italian Opera tradition. Lucia di Lammermoor was premiered in 1849 in Italy and a hot issue for all households. Since Leschetizky was unable to perform piano, due to his right arm wound; he decided to make a left hand only paraphrase on the famous sextet of the popular opera ‘il dolce suono’or mad scene. (Act II). This piece was the first take to be recorded for the Leschetizky album by Peter Ritzen in Budapest in 1992. The recording went on high acclaim and made Mr. Ritzen famous arround the globe as a pianist.