Romantic ~ Andante Finale ( for left hand only ) Listen Online.
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.
Virtuoso ~ Etudes D’ Execution Transcendante nr VII: ‘Eroica’ Listen Online.
Dating back to 1837, this etude displays ‘transedental’ demands to both; technique and mind. Franz Liszt, the greatest piano virtuoso of all times; said once during a public master class in Weimar in the 1880’s: ‘I used to run through this enormous demanding pieces every day, during my travelling years as a concert pianist.’ He also insisted that ‘Transcedental’ has more to do with ‘spiritual’ rather than pure technique. Transcending: means uplifting ‘Aufsteigerung’. The Eroica or ‘Heroic’ etude is a typical example here, reminding us on Liszt’s earliest Opera Fantasies.
Spiritual ~ Legend II ‘ St. Francis of Paola, walking on the waters’ Listen Online.
The two legends of Saint Francis [Ferenc Liszt his Catholic patron!) were published in 1863, and dedicated to his daughter Cosima. The 2nd Legend, St Francis of Paolo, depicts a most incredible story about the Saint (1416~1507): According to a famous story, in the year 1464, he was refused passage by a boatman while trying to cross the strait of Messina to Sicily. He reportedly laid his cloack on the water, tied one end to his staff as a sail, and sailed across the strait with his companions following in the boat.
Chinese Mysterious ~ Chinese Piano Concerto “Last Empress” – Mountain Rain Listen Online.
Inspired by the famous historic novel ‘Lady Dragon’, Peter Ritzen composed this grand concerto in 1994 in Salzburg, Austria. He used some melodic materials from the Beijing Opera ‘Last Empres’ [composed in 1911, the year of the revolution and founding of the Republic of China by Dr. Sun Yat Sen]. The third movement here is called ‘Mountain Rain’. Melodies and motives are of Ritzen’s feather, however the using of a sweet-weeping Er-Hu, depicts the heart felt calamities in China’s rich and dramatic history.
Sentimental ~ Piano Quintet of Peter Ritzen the 1st movement Listen Online.
Ritzen’s Quintet was composed in February 2006 in Taipei, Taiwan R.O.C. The first movement, ‘con moto’ is however adapted from an earlier composition: Concerto for Piano & Strings ‘Ananstasia'[composed in Vienna in 1991]. The themes developed in a strict ‘Haydn’ sonata tradition, are based upon the name A.N.A.S.T.S.I.A. Every letter stands for a note which is also used in reverse![a.i.s.a.t.s.a.n.a] This romantic and throughout sentimental movement is a blue print of Peter Ritzen’s compositional heritage: the school of Cesar Franck. It is undeniable that Mr. Ritzen got these influences in his young years at the than still existing ‘Royal Music Conservatory’ of Ghent in Belgium. An interesting side note: Peter Ritzen was been enrolled for ‘Harmony’ course with Jane Vignerie [a pupil of Paul Dukas, himself a Franck disciple!]in 1974. A tragic train accident involving Miss Vignerie, prevented him to continue his study as he later on studied with Daniel Gistelinck, who was a devout Vignerie pupil.
Phenomenal ~ Transcendental Symphony Heavenly Peace of Peter Ritzen. Excerpt: Finale 3 ‘Hymn of Universe’
This work for Grand Orchestra, Chinese Percussion, Organ, Chorus & Soloists is all about China and Christianity. It depicts massive aspects of China’s vast history. These elements are captured in the words of the librettist; Santiago Ruperez. The piece has over 400 performers and is Mahlerian in its magnitude. However one feels still that Ritzen has a deep love for China, besides a profound catholic devotion. An interesting combination that makes this piece unrivalled in its genre so far..