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This is where the Budapest Festival Orchestra took to the stage this evening.


Spain’s third-largest city with a population of 800,000.

The bed of the river that once split the city has been beautifully landscaped and is now surrounded by futuristic buildings, one of which is the Palace of Music built 25 years ago.

In the lobby, which is reminiscent of a palm-house in a botanical gardens, two queues move in opposite directions, one from left to right, the other from right to left, towards the ticket check. Nobody muscled in on anyone else, with the visitors rather exchanging pleasantries with those heading in the other direction.

Two things strike you immediately when entering the hall for the first time: the stage is almost in the middle, as there are seats for the audience above the choir and on two sides, essentially surrounding the stage.

And the lighting seems as if it comes from roof-top windows, bathing the hall in the sunlight, but it is completely artificial and just appears wholly natural. How did they do that?

The full-house welcomed the orchestra with friendly applause, then Iván Fischer, who waited for everyone to sit down, though there were a few impatient spectators who did not appreciate the elderly man above the orchestra with apparent difficulties in finding his place, and whistled their opinion.

Then the magic started.

This concert hall is on a par with the Palace of Arts in Budapest, or perhaps even a bit better.

It’s difficult to decide, but I did have to move over a bit as in the middle of the second row the sound of the first violin bounced and reached me a fraction later; five seats to the side the problem disappea