Valentin Răduțiu is the first cellist who recorded Enescu’s complete works for cello and piano, together with the Swedish pianist Per Rundberg. Laureate of the Enescu Competition and born in Munich, but with Romanian parents, Valentin Răduțiu took his first cello classes from his father, at the age of 6, continuing his studies in Salzburg, Vienna and Berlin with Clemens Hagen, Heinrich Schiff and David Geringas. Valentin Răduțiu gave concerts along the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Deutsche Radiophilharmonie Saarbrücken, MDR Leipzig and SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestras, Camerata Salzburg, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Prague Philharmonia, Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, “George Enescu” Philharmonic, National Radio Orchestra of Bucharest and World Youth Symphony Orchestra. Recently, the cellist launched his first recording with an orchestra, as well as a jazz album, “Remembering the rain”.
Interview by Nona Beicu
You received the first cello as a gift at the age of six, and your father gave you lessons for eight years. How did your passion for this instrument evolve later on and what are your memories of your first lessons?
Naturally! A child’s musical talent must be nurtured and developed with patience, like planting a tree: the earth on which it grows should be fertile, then it needs light, space, strong roots when the storm comes, and let’s not forget about the bees pollinating its flowers… Likewise, a musician’s journey depends on inner and outer factors, which can and cannot be influenced. My father, my parents in fact, supported me a lot and they also knew how to give me freedom for individual development. I will never forget the way my father used to play “The Flight of the Bumblebee” to me when I was little, holding a slipper in his left hand, gliding it up and down the strings, to show me: “Look how easy it is!”
Over the years you have given recitals in a lot of countries and you had the chance to interact with many philharmonics and orchestras all over the world. How did you feel the audience in various countries? Have you found common elements? What about differences?
In every concert hall there is a “psychosphere” – a certain energetic state that you can feel just like you can feel a smell or a different temperature. Even the hall itself has a certain “charge” – step into the empty Athenaeum, in complete silence and you will feel it at once. At the beginning, it may sound a little esoteric, but it is real. If we go inside a room where a group of people have just received bad news, we’ll ask at once: what happened? This is how the musician on stage feels the audience: the one at a competition’s final has a different conscious state than the audience of a gala concert. But it is more than atmosphere. So, of course, we sense these differences, but they are difficult to generalise. I have played in hot countries, I have played close to the Polar Circle, in countries suffering from poverty, in overcrowded places. In the authentic moments when people truly listen, music overcomes these outer criteria and people are people.
“In the authentic moments when people truly listen, music overcomes these outer criteria and people are people.”
When did you discover George Enescu’s music?
After I participated in the Enescu Competition I became much more interested in his music, not just the one for cello, and I also became interested in Enescu as a person and his biography.
On September 3, Valentin Răduțiu will open the 2016 edition of the Enescu Competition, in a gala concert along the violinist Anna Țifu and the pianist Mihai Ritivoiu, two other laureates of the Competition, on the stage of the Romanian Athenaeum. They will perform, under the baton of Horia Andreescu, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto.
With the pianist Per Rundberg, you recorded Enescu’s complete works for cello and piano, as the first cellist to do so. What made you record this CD and help promote the music of George Enescu?
Certainly, after the prize I was awarded at the Enescu Competition, the time was right to make this recording. The maestro Marin Cazacu advised me and gave me a very special gift by offering me the novel notes for the Allegro in F Minor, which became a performance premiere on my recording and which is now a compulsory piece for cello, at the Enescu Competition 2016. Naturally, the decisive criterion for this recording was my love for Enescu’s music. And I’m not saying it to brag, it’s a very personal confession actually: I feel so close to George Enescu spiritually! I find it hard to put these strong feelings into words.
In 2011 you were a laureate of the George Enescu Competition. What did this experience bring to you and how did it help you over time?
Many useful connections have been created – professionally, musically, with orchestras from Romania and abroad, while playing Enescu in concerts.
“With Enescu’s Sonata No. 2 I have learned how grateful the audience is to be taken on this colourful and intense inner journey.”
After the prize you won at the George Enescu Competition you began to perform his works in recitals, as the cellist who played Sonata No. 2 most often in Germany in recent years. What reactions did you get from the German audience after these shows?
At first, when I had not performed the sonata too often, I was worried if the audience might be able to appreciate this incomparable, even unusual music, especially if they can’t recognise Romanian language. I was thinking how much it had taken me to understand this work, to feel free with it – what will it be like for an audience that may be listening to Enescu for the first time? Meanwhile, I have learned the strong emotions generated by this work, how grateful the audience is to be taken on this colourful and intense inner journey. The applause after this work is always passionate, full of enthusiasm and positive emotions. Enescu should be performed with full conviction, maximum fantasy and expressivity, and the player’s effort will always be rewarded, in any country!
Last spring you recorded, together with the pianist Benjamin Schaefer, the jazz album “Remembering the rain”, a novel association between cello and this type of music. How did you discover this side of cello and what would be your future plans in this direction?
Jazz has always been a passion of mine, but until the release of this record, it was rather a private one. Cello is an extremely versatile instrument and I have always loved to experiment, to play with it. You can play it like a guitar, like a bass, like a saxophone and, the supreme goal, like singing. And I play by the ear, so… let’s see!
“In these very material times, I earn a living with something as immaterial as sound, which, after I’ve created it with the cello, flies out into the hall and evanesces.”
This year’s Enescu Competition is organised with the slogan “Give life to your dream”. What is your dream and what advice do you have for young musicians who will participate this year?
Naturally, following other sides of the job than the strictly musical and artistic ones, the musician risks to forget how miraculous music is, what privilege it is to be able to express through it. In these very material times, I earn a living with something as immaterial as sound, which, after I’ve created it with the cello, flies out into the hall and evanesces. And sometimes, it lives on in the listener’s heart. This, indeed, is a dream. I wish to follow this dream as much as I can, at the highest level, to learn and to discover something new every day. My advice for participants, however, is very pragmatic: try to present your programme in front of an audience as often as you can. Bring together a few friends and play before them the repertoire you prepared at a certain time. A few days later, repeat the procedure, maybe even at 10 in the morning! If you can’t find an audience at that time, replace it with a recorder. Any participant wins their preparation, the work they invested in themselves. Then we need a bit of luck, just like anywhere else.
“My advice for participants at this edition of Enescu Competition is very pragmatic: bring together a few friends and play before them the repertoire you prepared at a certain time.”
When did you come to Romania for the first time and what ties you to your country of origin now?
I came to Romania as soon as the borders were opened in 1990. What ties me to Romania – an endless list of things. My blood. My memories. George’s music. Nichita’s poems. Mashed eggplant salad.
Translation provided by Biroul de Traduceri Champollion