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2009 Jos van Immerseel 02 _ Alex Vanhee

Géza Peltzer
The Budapest Festival Orchestra gave a concert, the ninth from the symphony season-ticket concerts, on Monday evening in Bartók Hall.

Among Hungarian professionals, everyone knows that the Budapest Festival Orchestra is the best symphony orchestra in the country, what is more, according to their website, they are even among the top ten orchestras in the world. Understandably, the concert on Monday evening attracted massive interest – even though only a relatively large group of chamber musicians came to play instead of the full orchestra. They performed Bach, Mozart and Haydn, specifically the rarely-played pieces by the three great composers. What I immediately noticed was that during the first minutes the musicians played on their instruments standing, except for the cello and the double bass. This has recently become trendy among classical musicians. But does it improve the sound? – I don’t think so. During the Symphony in B major it seemed as if the first violin section had some trouble, which might be attributable to some other things as well (tuning in a rush, or the strangeness of the place). Artistic director Jos van Immerseel was apparently confident in this environment, the performance had a period sound thanks to his precise and adequately passionate conducting. During the second piece, when Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C major was played, he directed the orchestra standing next to his own fortepiano he brought here. The performance was nice, but the rather weak sound of the fortepiano, compared to the modern piano, clearly surprised the audience. But if period sound requires this, let it be, at least we can tell we have seen and heard such an instrument, and can feel what pianists felt at the time. After the interval we finally came to know why there is a divan, or rather, a sofa padded with red velvet in the corner of the stage. After Marianne Beate Kielland seated herself there in a costume, Haydn’s piece entitled Ariadne at Naxos was played.

The powerful mezzosoprano voice of the young Norwegian singer with a beautiful tone completely filled the hall. She sang the entire piece with great confidence and without a sheet, using just enough sets on the stage. She succeeded in making the audience feel as if they had attended a period opera performance, which is no mean feat.