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Two days, two world-renowed stages. For the second time in a short while, the Budapest Festival Orchestra performed at the Scala in Milan. Meanwhile, after more than ten years, they also returned to the Salzburger Festspiele considered the 'Mecca of musicians'. It became apparent once again during this tour, just how much classical musicians deserve standing ovation. The next time the orchestra will perform in Hungary is at the Bridging Europe Festival.

Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s latest tour was a resounding success at two of Europe’s most important venues: the Scala in Milan and the Salzburger Festspiele.

The BFO made their Scala debut in 2014 and returned this year for the Festival of International Orchestras, organised in association with the Milan World Expo. Over the years the festival has featured some of the finest orchestras in the world, including the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Boston Philharmonic. The audience honoured the Hungarians’ performance with a standing ovation lasting several minutes.

Bachtrack wrote of the Milan concert that Iván Fischer “has forged his orchestra into a super-precise, synchronised entity where passages ripple and swell into emotionally-unified waves.” According to the reviewer, the Scala’s audience were enraptured by the “meticulous, intelligent music-making,” during a concert of “scintillating Bartók timbres [and] colorful Mahlerian outbursts … under a unified orchestral thrust.” Following Iván Fischer’s lead, the music was “distilled into chamber-like charms”.

With 95 years of history behind the Salzburger Festspiele, it is an honour for any musician to be able to play there. As the Salzburger Nachrichten‘s critic wrote of the Festival Orchestra’s performance, “the way Iván Fischer conducted Mahler’s Fourth, keeping the sound transparent in every measure, uniting the excellent musicians and without letting the tension drop for a moment, was fascinating and precisely chiselled.”

Dreh Punkt Kultur‘s review said, “in this case we can really talk about an ‘ensemble’, for the orchestra’s members audibly possess soloist qualities, yet together they create an unmatched clear, transparent sound. […] Even during orchestral outbursts every detail is audible, including every stress in the brass section. The woodwinds’ intonation is fabulously clear and beautiful, the brass razor-sharp, while the solo horn gives off a pastoral warmth.”

Having enchanted the audience in Mozart’s hometown, the Festival Orchestra is already working on bringing Austrian culture to Budapest. This year’s Bridging Europe, a festival co-organised by the BFO and Müpa Budapest, will be all about Austrian music, dance, literature and film. It takes place between 11 and 16 September. As Iván Fischer put it, “Austrian culture is vast and rich, it’s not just lederhosen, yodeling and Mozart balls.” The festival, which kicks off the autumn season, aims to increase European nations’ knowledge of each others’ values and thus bring them closer.

“We are trying to connect people through music and build bridges across Europe. Many think the continent is too diverse to be linked together. We, however, think that Europe is special and unique precisely because of its heterogeneity” – said Stefan Englert, managing director of the Festival Orchestra.