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Fabien’s diary (fabienautre.blogspot.hu)

The refurbished Academy of Music may possibly be described best as above. My friend Aurelio and I attended the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s concert on Friday evening.

Having left my car in Városliget (Budapest Municipal Park), I walked down Andrássy Út and arrived at the huge building of the Academy of Music at 6.45 p.m.10 to 15 people, including me, were waiting to get in; after a couple of minutes the doors opened and we could enter the refurbished building. It was unusual to walk in from Liszt Ferenc tér since we used to approach the concert hall from the entrance on Király Street. Nevertheless, the new system is better: the doors are wider, and guests find themselves right in front of the commemorative plaque. The ornamentation inside is impressive. The various modern signs (emergency exit, fire hydrant, etc.) blend aesthetically well with the environment. Friendly young hostesses welcome visitors in the cloakroom and by the doors. Use of the cloakroom costs HUF 180, for which a receipt is also given. The toilet is a little bit small, but clean (except for the shining drops under the urinals, owing to the carelessness of people of my gender). The staircase and the floors are perhaps even more splendid with their ornamentation, paintings and blue balloons. The concert hall leaves you breathless. It is really like a sanctuary. The enormous space with the organ and the coat of arms beneath, huge balconies, stained glass windows, the upholstery, statues and many small motifs: a magnificent spectacle.

The space on the balcony is quite narrow too: when I sat down, my knee hit the back of the chair in front of me. This is why it is so inconvenient to stand up in our place and let latecomers pass by. On a positive note, the hall is air-conditioned, and so the auditorium was constantly at a comfortable room temperature.

It was interesting that I barely saw any young people (under 30) in the audience, it was mostly middle-aged adults and pensioners in the hall. Nonetheless, many of them would do well to take lessons in concert etiquette: the lady sitting next to me made noises with the wrapper of her sweet during the Andante movement of the piano concerto, others whispered and muttered during the performance; and of course, there is no concert without some loud coughs, suffocation, violent sneezes or even a phone ringing. As soon as the conductor lowered his hand, the whole audience started to sniffle, clear their throats and snort, just like in a tuberculosis sanatorium.

And finally, the music: the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s guest was Russian conductor and pianist Mikhail Pletnev. This time, the artist was sitting at the piano (the conductor of the evening was Gábor Takács-Nagy). The concert began with Liszt’s symphonic poem Mazeppa. This was followed by Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C major. After the rapturous applause, Pletnev gave an encore. He played Chopin’s Nocturne in D-flat major, which I found the most extraordinary piece in the evening. After the break, Mendelssohn’s “Reformation” was played. The excellent orchestra performed the slow movement of Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony as an encore. Unfortunately, I cannot describe the unforgettable experience I had during this concert, but one thing is certain: the six words written on the lamps on the concert hall’s stained glass ceiling – melody, rhythm, accord, fantasia, poetry, beauty – were all there during the concert.