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Kurcsák István

Over the course of twelve days, Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra travelled 23 thousand kilometres, carrying the banner of Hungarian culture from Las Palmas through Washington and Montréal, all the way to New York. Meanwhile, Midnight Music and the Autism-friendly Cocoa Concert made it into the top ten Highlights of Hungary.

The Budapest Festival Orchestra’s concert was a “majestic finale” to the 32nd International Music Festival of the Canary Islands, said the review in Diario de Avisos. “The orchestra played with an extraordinary sensitivity from the very first moment, their performance was perfectly delicate and balanced,” the author elaborated, drawing attention to Iván Fischer’s “conducting greatness” and saying that he “achieved perfect sound with minimal conducting.” And although it is not customary to include the encore in a review, this time it was so “marvellous” that the reviewer could not help but mention how “breathtakingly the BFO’s musicians sang an old orthodox melody in four parts.”

According to the review in Cultural Resuena, Iván Fischer shone through the concert hall, he chose a bold interpretation, and the orchestra’s performance was both powerful and delicate. “They proved that it is possible to do both at once, and the fantastic evening concluded with a resounding applause,” wrote the reviewer, who called the encore “an unforgettable present.”

According to Montréal’s Le Devoir, the orchestra worked its magic there too. “It is a miracle in itself that, in spite of the adverse weather, they made it to Montréal from Washington,” the reviewer said, adding that “they even sang!” The concert began in the best possible way with the horns from the overture of Der Freischütz, and Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony had it all; accuracy, colours and an endless range of shades. “They played unified and at a high level throughout, we hope to meet them on their next tour,” the reviewer concluded.

Accolades abounded when the press announced the Festival Orchestra’s concert in New York. The New Yorker welcomed “Iván Fischer’s superlative orchestra” to Carnegie Hall, and in Washington the Hungarian ambassador Réka Szemerkényi invited the entire orchestra to have Sunday brunch at the embassy. In Washington there was also a reception for Iván Fischer in his capacity as former director of the National Symphony Orchestra.

The Festival Orchestra celebrated 20 years of playing Carnegie Hall, and the audience honoured their performance with a standing ovation just as they had done in Montréal. ConcertoNet emphasised the orchestra’s “whirling energy,” according to the Super Conductor blog the concert was anything but ordinary, and Cutting Edge spoke of the concert’s many magical moments. The orchestra showed what they’re capable of “fantastically, with a miraculous sound,” and at the end, the musicians “won the hearts of the audience” with their singing. The New York Times drew attention to the warm, generous sound of the strings as well as the highly-gifted players in the wind section, while according to Classical Source’s reviewer this was the best concert of the season.

While they were on the tour, two of the Festival Orchestra’s special concerts made it into Super Channel’s top ten creative ‘Highlights of Hungary’. Midnight Music came in 5th (having been nominated by Curator Bence Bodnár), and the Autism-friendly Cocoa Concert, co-organised with the Nemzetközi Cseperedő Alapítvány (an International Foundation to support children and their families living with autism), came 6th on the back of Curator Nóra Winkler’s nomination.