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London vacation, part I

(...) It was straight from there to the Royal Albert Hall for the first of two wonderful Proms with Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

They gave rip-roaring accounts of Mahler’s First and, earlier in the program, Lizst’s Totentanz (among other first-half numbers), featuring a super young Croatian pianist, Dejan Laziæ, who played like a man possessed indeed, and as an encore gave us Giovanni Dettori’s fugue on the theme of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”! But the highlight of the night was their second concert, billed as “Audience Choice.” As we entered, we were each handed a program and a raffle ticket. The program listed nearly 300 works or movements, numbered. Everyone was to pick the one they wanted to hear, then the tuba player went round with his instrument full of numbers matching those on the tickets, and three people whose numbers were picked named their chosen works. The audience voted among the three, by acclamation, then the 2d violinist who served as the orchestra’s music librarian hurried off to fetch the scores, while other members of the band kept the crowd amused with variety acts ranging from a bit of Telemann quartet to four percussionists doing body beats. Fischer and all the orchestra were in casual clothes, the mood ranged from relaxed to uproarious, and the orchestra played everything quite brilliantly, even though Fischer had warned that we might be picking numbers they hadn’t run through in a while. All the works were new to me, in fact. Great stuff!

Somewhere, beyond space and time (blog)