BFO
Budapest Festival Orchestra
Press reviews February 06, 2019

A Boléro of Silly Walks

I joined this year’s Marathon at six o’clock, perhaps missing out on the essence of experience: the daze of spending the whole day with one (or this time with two) composers, Debussy and Ravel. On the other hand perhaps it was just the essence that I didn’t miss, since after the programme, everybody was talking about the Blues movement performed by Barnabás Kelemen. It was really exceptionally good, as much Blues as it was classical, infallibly finding the narrow path between both traditions. It was nice, it was good, it was strummed and it was bowed, and anyone who got the chance to enjoy five minutes of this on a Sunday must feel very lucky.

And if something even more memorable followed, then we must feel beyond lucky. Of course we suspected that the last event, the orchestral concert of 9 o’clock, La valse and Boléro would be good. It began sluggishly, yet ended all the better for it. La valse is a huge, loud orchestral piece at the level one hopes, if not expects, listening to the Festival Orchestra. Then came Boléro. Where would they dance? Because the one to one-and-a-half-meter wide space between the auditorium and the orchestra didn’t seem wide enough for anything.

It was wide enough for everything. Pál Frenák’s choreography is a bit like a fashion show. In come the dancers, men and women in tulle skirts, mainly from the left to the right, wiggling in all directions with their limbs flying all over the place. And they keep coming and coming while the great crescendo builds, from the solo flute to a wild orchestra. The great crescendo almost turns into an orgy on the concert platform. This is what everybody talks about when discussing the erotic character of Boléro, its arising up to a great climax. And I can’t believe this can be further intensified, every sound is in place, perfectly calibrated musical power, choreographic power; in the end, white dancers stand in front of the conductor, and you hear what you see and you see what you hear, a total craze, but without any obscenity, you wish for the end while wishing it would never end. And this is what happens. It comes to an end but the memory lingers.

Wow.

Click here to read the review in Hungarian.