Mihai Ritivoiu at St Mary`s Perivale Schumann Romances op 28 Toccata op7 Liszt Sonata in B minor Once more a magnificent recital for Hugh Mathers remarkable Tuesday series dedicated to the very finest pianists from the up and coming younger generation..
A remarkable array of talent chosen with the care and expertise of a real musician who passionately cares and wants to help these young artists by offering concerts in his very well attended series .. Most from the series have won major prizes at our music colleges andMihai Ritivoiu, a student of the highly esteemed Joan Havill at the Guildhall was in fact winner of the Gold Medal of the Beethoven Society of Europe. I was present when he played a very fine ” Appassionata”to Piers Lane and Noretta Conci who as a jury had no hesitation in awarding him their highest honour.
Today he was presenting two works by Schumann and one of the most remarkable works in the Romantic repertoire the Sonata in B minor by Liszt. Starting with the three Romances op 28 by Schumann.The second of which is very often played as an encore but rarely do we see all three in a concert programme.Very good to hear them all at the opening of a programme especially when played with the intelligence that was revealed here. All the romantic ardour and colours but allied to a rigour and attention to the bass that gave great profundity and sense of direction especially noticeable in the first of the Romances. The famous second Romance in F sharp was played with an aristocratic sense of line that never was allowed to dissolve into sentimentality.The final Romance,the longest of them all,based on Schumann’s dotted rhythm was here played with a lightness and shape that made an ideal conclusion to this group.
I remember Cherkassky used to play the even more rarely heard op111 of Schumann as a prelude to the Liszt Sonata and Mihai chose to combine the Romances with the famous , dare I say infamous, Toccata in C op 7 . When its is played by a real musician ,with the technical equipment to cope with its treacherous demands,one is made to realise what a masterpiece it is . Here Mihai with the perfect legato that Schumann asks for in place and again the bass made prominent below the fast repeated right hand octaves leading to a most romantic outpouring only to dissolve into nothing as it had begun . In that sense it has much in common with the Liszt Sonata that was to follow. The Liszt Sonata was given a musician’s performance. And that is not to say that there were not many thrilling moments in which Mihai rose to the occasion.But there was also a sense of architecture and shape together with a sense of wonder and beauty in the slower passages with an aristocratic rubato that never lost sight of the overall shape and picture.
Maybe it was missing something of the demonic character and sheer animal excitement but this will come with living with it for some time , It is already quite remarkable for a young hot blooded pianist to be able to control his emotions and to play this work with the respect and intelligence that it deserves .