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On Saturday, April 27 2013 19:30 hrs.
Peter RITZEN & Werner PELINKA
(Luz Leskowitz, artistic director)
Maria Brojer, Soprano
Included an Exhibition with works of
Andrea Missine & Charles Pongracz
The concert is the final event of Imago Unitatis (Kulturstelle der Stadt Wien).
This concert is co-organized by the Austrian-Belgian Association in Vienna
Starting in the year of Franz Liszt 2011, Peter Ritzen and his friend, pianist composer Werner Pelinka, comenced giving concerts arround the figure of Franz Liszt.
As schoolmates from the 1970’s (International Summer Courses François Glorieux in Antwerp) Ritzen & Werner Pelinka shared a common interest in the music of the great master, Franz Liszt (1811-1886).
No wonder that the first concert in the year of Franz Liszt:
- Took place in the renowned Franz Liszt Saal, right at the Lotheringerstrasse on intersection with the Franz Liszt Strasse in the first district of Vienna.
- Included exclusively, the two piano concertos of Franz Liszt only, on the programm. The two pianists performed these two masterpieces as Liszt wrote them in their original version: for TWO pianos; rather than with piano and Orchestra. It has been said that Liszt’s student Joachim Raff (1822-1888) was greatly responsible fort he orchestration oft he concertos. However, we are very sure: Franz Liszt designed his two concertos originally for two pianos.
In 2012, there was a second version oft he 2011 concert. But this time, the newly found piano duo performed, besides the first Liszt concerto, a repertoire of their master teacher François Glorieux: a great pianist improviser, conductor and composer from Kortrijk, in Belgium.
One of the very few Belgians who ever made it in the ‚international’ music arena; in the same sense like his pupil, Peter Ritzen, later on.
This time the concert in Vienna, following up the tradition of 2011, becomes a quiet big event. The famous Salzburger Solisten, under the charismatic directorship of Luz Leskowitz, will join Ritzen and Pelinka in an appasionate program of Chamber Music, songs, and, of course again one of the Liszt Concerto’s.
The second concerto in A major is on, this year in 2013.
The concert will take place in one of the most beautiful concert halls in Vienna.
The renowned Ehrbar Saal at the Mühlgasse on the IV district of Vienna.
Josef Weniger was the architect of the Ehrbar Palace, built in 1876-77 for the piano manufacturer Friedrich Ehrbar (1827-1905). The hall became a place to be, for cultural Vienna. Great artists as Anton Rubinstein, Johannes Brahms, Anton Bruckner or Gustav Mahler performed (conducted) here. They found at Ehrbar Saal a high educated, music devoted, enthusiastic audience.
The program, as stated in detail below, contains also works by contemporary composers, such as Ulf-Dieter Soyka and Ritzen’s friend Pelinka. These composers differ however from the vast majority of so-called ‚modern’ composers, due to a neo romantic language, with harmonious, tonal manners.
In the second part oft he program; there is the fantastic Piano Quintet of
Cesar Franck (1822-1890).
A hall mark of the Salzburger Soloists and Ritzen who have performed this treasure many many times; in Salzburg, Taipei and some international music festivals, like the one in Rellingen (near Hamburg).
As an encore, Ritzen told us he has a surprise in mind.. : the fifth Hungarian Dance of Johannes Brahms (1833- 1897), in transcription fort two pianos, and strings (Salzburger Soloists); arranged by Ritzen.
RMS New York
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In 2008, the Ministry of Culture of Flanders (the Northern part oft he Kingdom of Belgium) sponsored four CD productions around Peter Ritzen.
Ritzen Franck Piano Quintets
On December 19, 2008; the renowned Moscow Chamber Academy joined Mr. Ritzen in a concert at the historic Lakenmetershuis. A fantastic ambivalent historic space build in the early 18th century (1722) with supreme acoustics. The completely sold out event featured a new composition by Ritzen: Quintet in F-sharp minor for piano and string quartet. The concert was a milestone in the annals of culture, of the city of Ghent. The studio recording of Ritzen’s Quintet, was however, made one day later. Sessions started no earlier than midnight, due to the not-so-secure isolation of the building.
Peter Ritzen recollect here: ‘There were a lot of practical things to be resolved. First of all, we only had access to the building in the evening. Lieven Muessen, the sound engineer needed to position his equipment in an improvised room near the hall. Dozens of cables were to be attached to the floor, not to mention the mikes, which had to be positioned in the right spots in order to pick up, the real sound of that wonderful hall.
I had a friend, colleague, who voluntarily came to function as artistic director. It was a unique experience, and unforgettable too.’
One day later, the Quintet in F by Cesar Franck (1822-1890) was recorded in another location. Because Mr. Ritzen insisted he wanted to use a historic piano for this repertoire. The choice fell on the most wonderful castle of Uitbergen, near Ghent, and privately owned by relatives of Ritzen. Also in Uitbergen, there were improvised, unorthodox recording methods. The recording room was being located ,.. at the private Catholic house chapel! The piano, a full sizeERARD build in 1878 (the Franck Quintet was composed in 1878!) was a tremendous vehicle. But it had cracks and creeps.. Fortunately, Ritzen’s artistic director, Peter Kestens, who was again present, repaired and muffled all problems instantly. Thanks to his passion for the technical aspects of historic instruments! Ritzen recollects: ‘my relatives Olga & Phil Berkmoes, came to peep-in during a session. There were many tensions, because we had only limited recording time. The violist had to catch a plane to Poland. And we played the Lento movement like in a concert. It was a real momentum, as this take was left untouched, and uncut, in this recording.’
We have covered the choral rehearsals of Heavenly Peace. This production is without doubt, the largest and most daring project Renaissance Music Society has undertaken, so far.
In fact, there is much more story on record about the rehearsals with orchestra as mentioned in another article.
The first rehearsals with the two joined orchestras, dubbed New Dynasty Philharmonic Orchestra, and the fully present chorus, took place in a rather too narrow rehearsal room of the Taipei Symphony Orchestra. It was so hot there and tense, that even some chorus members became unwell. SoloistStella Chang, had to engage in first aid and psychological assistance for some chorus members! Also there were lots of tensions of certain participants, who unlawfully attempted to engage in changing text phrases, according to theirphilosophy. Something that, of course, the composer and the librettist vehemently opposed! There were even meetings at the lobby of the European Academy of Music on Zhong Xan Bei street where certain members, flanked by their benefactors, showed up, and wanted, pencil in the hand,.. erase some words of the Catholic Lacrymosa; the only text which was not written by Santiago Ruperez, but taken from the traditional Missal.
However, when June 6 came, all problems were resolved and Heavenly Peace was performed genuinely, like it was written in the score! One must also realize that Heavenly Peace is a work, comparable with Mahler’s Symphony Nr. VIII, in magnitude and power. That means: many practical aspects had to be organized and problems resolved: like the space on the stage! Not to mention of how to put meticulously the mikes which such a large crowd.
The result of this production is a recording in which the merger of all forces comes to a final majestic outcome.
It will stay in the hearts and minds of the many who participated. It will stay in the remembrance of the many who attended that memorable concert of June 6th 2005.
Finis est infinitus
In December of 2009, there was the premiere of Ritzen’s symphonic poem: Finis est infinitus. The concert was again organized by the Rode Pomp, who hosted since many years the concerts of Ritzen, whenever he came to Ghent to perform. This time the concert took place in the former Parnassus Church . The hall was packed with audience, despite the fact that temperatures dropped to minus 6-7 that evening. It was the first time that Ritzen’s fellow citizens saw him conducting, and nobody less than Stella Chang, the giant Soprano from Heavenly Peace, who everybody admires in the recording and YouTube films, was sole soloist. The result was an appalling first performance, picked up by the recording equipment of the Rode Pomp (Emmanuel Sproelands). The result is a sound document of this symphonic masterpiece. Notice also that Ritzen, wrote partly the librettos in Hebrew and German. Besides deriving the famous Salve Regina, from the traditional Catholic missal. Like Ritzen says: borrow from the ancient to create the new.
Cesar Franck Piano Works
Somewhere in the summer of 2010 the recording sessions went into full motion for Ritzen’s Cesar Franck Repertoire at the China Record Corporation Beijing Studios. It is another aspect oft he artist, who is deeply affiliated with Cesar Franck (1822-1890) through his early education in the Ghent Royal Conservatory. A rarity in this recording is without doubt, the violin sonata of the master, transcribed by Alfred Cortot (( Ritzen’s Alma Mater! École Normale de Musique the Paris ‘Alfred Cortot’ ).
However, Ritzen readapted parts of the violin deeper more profoundly into the piano solo score.
The result is a symphonic approach, in pure Lisztian traditions, compelled with appalling drama and exuberance.
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In June 2005, Transcendental Symphony Heavenly Peace went into premiere. The months before the concert events of June 4 & 6 (Taichung & Taipei), were most hectic, due to the organization (a total of 400 performers onstage!) and the many rehearsals with the different choruses scattered around the Island of Taiwan.
The composer himself, committed and devoted to a good outcome of his piece, engaged himself to visit all those chorus fractions. There were the weekly gatherings of the International Community Choir in Taipei, held at the European Academy of Music. Soloists, like Angelo Marenzi, practiced their solo parts, with holy fire! And then the conductor arrived: Meir Minsky. Mr. Ritzen went to pick him up from the airport. ‘Dear Peter, I know your score; inside outside. We will make history, my dear friend!’ The first rehearsal with ALL choruses came. The European Academy was involved in the organization of buses, arrival hours and.. a 300 lunch boxes for the volunteer enthusiasts! Maestro Minsky was overwhelmed, since he knew that many singers were not really professionals. They just had great will power. ‘And this is the miracle from Taiwan!’ he shouted in anticipation after that memorable ‘Sunday morning’. Because than only, everybody was able to attend this grand rehearsal! The composer played his symphony at ‘his’ Piano, with thunderous orchestral panache. The concert grand piano of the European Academy was especially moved to Guang Fu Ball Room, in Taipei, where the rehearsals took place. The impact was enormous and deep on the large chorus. In the intermission, lyricist SANTIAGO RUPEREZ, was literally stormed with questions (the text is in English) regarding the deeper meaning of certain text phrases, and he got ovations too!
A week later, rehearsals began with a pick-up orchestra. A combination of Taipei Symphony and National Symphony Orchestras. It was called, New Dynasty Orchestra; because we all believed: this is a ‚reborn’ a renaissance, a new dynasty, in Music! When the final concert event took place in Taipei, at the National Concert Hall, everybody, including soloists, had been through many emotions, tribulations and exaltation. Heavenly Peace has been performed again since. But this one is THE premiere. The very first successful performance. The recording tapes, went through many premaster stages, due to the large audience (it was sold out with a 2000 people attending the concert), and the giant performing group on the stage. But finally, a satisfactory product came out. And this is what people can hear today on record. A result of composing, text writing, planning, rehearsing, organizing, rehearsing again..and finally: dreaming, in the Music.
Peter Ritzen’s latest composition is called ‘Wilde Roos’. It is a Cantata in three movements, for Organ, Chorus, Percussion, Orchestra (or Piano) and Soloists. It was composed in 2011 in Beijing, China. The texts are derived from Flemish Poems of the famous Priest Poet; Anton van Wilderode (1918-1998). The piece was not performed yet, due to ‘typical’ intrigues in Ritzen’s native country, Belgium. We are nevertheless looking forwards to a hopeful premiere of another gigantic work of the maestro, which: ‘belongs to the best what I ever wrote’.. according the composer’s own words..!
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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.
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