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Nikolai LuganskyPhoto: Marco Borggreve

A concert with Russian music is easily programmed. Take a little bit of Tchaikovsky, add some Rachmaninov or Prokofiev and garnish it with Shostakovich. Shaken, not stirred and na zdorovie! – the success is guaranteed. Though the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s programme used all the traditional ingredients, it improved the recipe considerably with very special flavours: a seldom played suite, a dazzling virtuoso piano concerto and a relaxed symphony. A delicious daring cocktail, served by the pianist Nikolai Lugansky and the Budapest Festival Orchestra under the baton of Gábor Takács-Nagy. (Olga de Kort)

The musical firework started with the Shostakovich’s Hamlet suite, originally composed as scenic music for Nikolay Akimov’s notorious production at the Vachtangov Theatre in Moscow. With his reinterpretation of Hamlet (1932) Akimov suggested a new reading of Shakesperian characters, in particularly of Ophelia, whose drink addiction became the real reason of her drowning. Shostakovich went the extra mile presenting a grotesque musical portrait of ‘the rotten state of Denmark’ in thirteen short sketches. Sarcastic, exuberantly provoking and regrettably short, they formed a striking contrast with a tragic beauty of Shostakovich’s music for the film Hamlet by Grigory Kozintsev, 32 years later. But tonight the BFO showed the young composer, before all the obstractions and dramatical torments, writing joyful, free and unimpeded, but nevertheless already a master in mixing laughter with tears. Gábor Takács-Nagy conducted with a great precision and let his orchestra sparkle in Shostakovitch’s melodical acrobatics, unfolding still new layers and intonations in a kaleidoscope of energetic rhythms and neck breaking tempi.

You can read the full article on Bachtrack.