A retrospective of our successful first concert series of the 2021 Ruhr Piano Festival edition, and a preview of the second series of concerts starting in September
Finally in front of an audience once again!
For its first live event in 2021 in front of an audience, the Ruhr Piano Festival joyfully welcomed Evgeny Kissin, whose appearance had already been postponed on two previous occasions because of the pandemic. After Kissin’s brilliant programme on 20 June 2021 with works by Berg, Khrennikov, Gershwin, and Chopin at the Dortmund Konzerthaus, Festival Director Franz Xaver Ohnesorg personally presented him with the 2020 Ruhr Piano Festival Prize.
Marvelous re-encounters… and a farewell
Conductor Steven Sloane said goodbye after 27 years at the head of the Bochum Symphony. As a present for his regretted departure, the Ruhr Piano Festival invited Sloane’s next orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony, to perform at the Festival. The evening’s soloist was Elisabeth Leonskaja with Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto, and she thanked the audience for their enthusiastic applause by playing Debussy’s “Fireworks” prélude as an encore.
The centerpiece of Gabriela Montero’s recital at the Konzerthaus in Dortmund was her improvisation on Charlie Chaplin’s legendary silent film “The Immigrant” from the year 1917.
Igor Levit was the Festival’s guest for the 15th time, now at the Historische Stadthalle in Wuppertal, with a Klavierstück by Franz Schubert as well as a virtuoso rendition of Franz Liszt’s solo piano transcription of Beethoven’s “Eroica” symphony.
Due to entry restrictions from Portugal issued at short notice, pianist Maria João Pires regrettably had to cancel her recital. Claire Huangci was fortunately available to step in, and for her fourth appearance at the Festival she conquered the Wuppertal audience by storm. Then, due to the required quarantine, Leif Ove Andsnes’s recital in Bochum had to be postponed for several days, but a painful back injury obliged him to call off his scheduled performance entirely. Jan Lisiecki, who had triumphally opened the Schleswig-Holstein Festival just a few days earlier, was fortunately able to step in, thereby appearing at the Ruhr Piano Festival for the 11th time since his début in 2015.
Fred Hersch performed with his fabulous trio for the opening concert of this year’s JazzLine series at the Festspielhaus in Recklinghausen. Baritone Matthias Goerne and pianist Seong-Jin Cho gave a Schubert Lied recital full of atmosphere and nuance. Then, in Rheinberg, Christoph Reuter presented a jovial music cabaret evening under the fitting motto “Everyone is musical… except for some!” Arcadi Volodos performed an impressive Schubert-Brahms recital in Herne. Grigory Sokolov gave his 23rd performance for the Ruhr Piano Festival at the sold-out Philharmonie in Essen, thanking his audience for their standing ovations with a total of seven encores.
At the Mercatorhalle in Duisburg, Gvantsa and Khatia Buniatishvili proposed a highly variegated programme: their heartfelt rendition of Schubert’s Fantasy in F Minor was followed by a selection of temperamental Hungarian Dances by Brahms, a breakneck Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Franz Liszt, and a colorful fantasia arrangement of Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess by Percy Grainger, closing the evening with Milhaud’s beloved Scaramouche for two pianos. Duisburg was also the chosen venue for the closing concert of this first series of the 2021 Ruhr Piano Festival edition: Hélène Grimaud is still waiting to be issued her American departure visa in the US, but young French pianist Lise de la Salle fortunately stepped in!
The Ruhr Piano Festival’s first 2021 concert series featured a total of 13 concerts held at eight different venues. After last year’s long hiatus, 4,400 visitors were finally able to attend such live events once again. Strict health restrictions were applied at all venues, thereby limiting auditoriums to 1/3 total capacity. The Festival’s streaming offer attracted a total of 54.000 visits.
Educational projects in the context of a pandemic
For 16 years, the Ruhr Piano Festival has been implementing its prizewinning educational projects with the purpose of achieving long-term effects in the region. A total of 1,400 workshops have taken place in the borough of Duisburg-Marxloh alone, bringing classical music closer to children whose social background would otherwise deprive them thereof.
We also actively continue to invest considerable efforts in the Little Piano School and KlavierGarten projects, which playfully introduce young children ages 2 to 6 to the wonders of music by means of the piano. Difficult circumstances associated with the pandemic have obliged us to invent and apply new, creative means of remaining steadfast in our commitment to these children and remaining in contact with them, including digital offers as well as open air activities such as a dance project on mosque esplanade in Duisburg-Marxloh.
A preview of the second series of Ruhr Piano Festival concerts,
beginning on 3 September 2021
To launch the second series of 2021 Ruhr Piano Festival concerts, Lucas and Arthur Jussen will propose a programme on 3 September at the Stadthalle in Mülheim with music by Rachmaninov as well as Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. In the same town, in October, Marc-André Hamelin will perform Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata, and Alexander Ullmann will feature Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata along with Liszt’s B Minor Sonata. Anne-Sophie Mutter plays on 4 September 2021 at the Philharmonie in Essen, in a trio evening with her longstanding piano partner Lambert Orkis and her scholarship holder, prizewinning cellist Pablo Ferrández, in works by Mozart, Beethoven, and Clara Schumann. On 5 September, the Festival has given carte blanche to Sir András Schiff, who will surprise us with unexpected choices of repertoire.
Alfred Brendel celebrated his 90th birthday in January 2021, and the Ruhr Piano Festival now proposes to pay a special tribute to this outstanding pianist in a series of five concerts starting on 20 September. In Düsseldorf’s Robert-Schumann-Saal we shall thus have the pleasure of hearing Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Kit Armstrong, Anne Queffelec, Imogen Cooper, and Francesco Piemontesi, all of whom wish to thank Alfred Brendel for his guidance and encouragement over the years in a series of programmes specially conceived for the occasion.
Three concerts of this second series shall take place at the Gebläsehalle in Duisburg – with Mona Asuka, Jeremy Denk, and a début for 14-year-old Alexandra Dovgan. Further Festival débuts shall be given on 30 September at Gartrop Castle in Hünxe by British pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, as well as on October 1st by American pianist Pallavi Mahidhara at Haus Fuhr in Essen: none other than András Schiff is enthusiastically promoting Mahidhara’s outstanding artistry through his “Building Bridges” program. Roman Borisov, 1st Prize at the Moscow International Grand Piano Competition in 2018, comes to Haus Opherdicke in Holzwickede on 10 September, and Jonathan Fournel, 1st Prize at this year’s Reine Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, is invited to give his début Festival performance on 23 September at Rheda Castle in Wiedenbrück. When Evgeny Kissin was chosen for the 2020 Ruhr Piano Festival Prize, he, in turn, selected Eva Gevorgyan as Ruhr Piano Festival Scholarship holder, and she will play a Chopin programme in Bochum-Wattenscheid on 8 September 2021. Among this year’s 13 Festival début performances, we look forward to Mariam Batsashvili’s recital on 25 September 2021 at the Rheinkamp Cultural Center in Moers. Olga Pashchenko, who specializes in historical keyboards, shall perform on 10 October 2021 at the Gustav Lübcke Museum in Hamm, finally giving a live rendition of last year’s radio broadcast programme, now in front of an audience. Kristian Bezuidenhout was originally foreseen to close our complete cycle of Beethoven sonatas in 2020 with two recitals; now, instead, we shall have the pleasure of attending his début Festival performance on 5 and 6 October in Bottrop and in Haus Fuhr (Essen) in a fortepiano programme of Mozart and Haydn sonatas. This year’s eldest Festival début performer is 75-year-old Jos van Immerseel, a true pioneer of historical performance practice who has helped pave the way for historical keyboards into the concert hall, and who shall feature a pure Beethoven programme 14 September at Herten Castle. Within the framework of our ongoing collaboration with WDR broadcasting in its “Early Music in North-Rhine-Westphalia” series, Aapo Häkkinen plays a harpsichord recital on 15 September 2021 at Hohenlimburg Castle, presenting unknown works by Johann Wilhelm Hässler, Johann Friedrich Reichardt, and Johann Gottfried Wilhelm Palschau, paired with selections from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.
The 2020 pandemic did not allow us to celebrate the anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birthday to the extent we would have wished; now, pianists Michael Korstick (in Schwelm), Heidrun Holtmann (in Ennepetal), and Fabian Müller (at the Arcadion in Hagen) are helping us make up for lost time by performing their Beethoven programmes originally foreseen for last year.
Selected by Michel Camilo as scholarship holder for 2020, pianist A Bu shall now play in Hagen within the framework of our JazzLine series. The Antonio Faraò Trio will likewise be our guests at the Ebertbad in Oberhausen, and the spectacular Ramón Valle Trio will perform at the Festspielhaus in Recklinghausen. We celebrate the return of Krystian Zimerman on 27 September 2021 in Wuppertal. The closing Festival concert shall take place on 16 November 2021 at the Mercatorhalle in Duisburg, featuring Fabian Müller and Lorenzo Soulès in collaboration with pupils of elementary and secondary schools from Duisburg-Marxloh. On the 3rd Advent weekend in 2021 we plan to hold this year’s Christmas Concert in Gartrop Castle with Herbert Schuch and Gülru Ensari.
On the Festival website, you can already reserve a spot on the waiting list for all concerts by clicking on the “Warteliste” button. Tickets will then be sold in two consecutive groups.
After receiving an e-mail from us, all customers will be allowed to make use of their priority booking status over a period of 3 days from 16 to 18 August 2021 in order to purchase their personalized, non-transferrable concert tickets.
General advanced booking for all September concerts then begins on Thursday, 19 August 2021. A 2nd booking period for all October and November concerts shall open in the first days of September.
Your favourite concert is already sold out? Please register yourself on the waiting list. If there is a chance for tickets, we will contact you!
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