The Budapest Festival Orchestra (BFO) visited four cities for the first time on their recent tour. Vilnius, Riga, St. Petersburg and Ravenna had their first BFO experience and, according to the reviews, the orchestra captured the hearts of their new audiences.
In the wake of the General Assembly of Budapest’s funding cut, the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s Baltic tour was under threat. However, the Ministry of Trade and Foreign Affairs believed the Vilnius, Riga, St. Petersburg and Ravenna concerts to be hugely significant in terms of cultural diplomacy, and by making up the tour’s 60 million HUF deficit they made it possible for the orchestra to be part of these prestigious European festivals.
According to a review of the Vilnius concert, the Festival Orchestra’s performance was “a dream come true”. The festival’s artistic director, Gintautas Kevisas, even noted in advance that the BFO’s appearance was going to be something special.
The Riga press described the Festival Orchestra’s concert as “phenomenal”. They emphasised the “perfect harmony and unison”, the orchestra’s “inspired performance” and the “elemental power” of Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony. They also praised Dénes Várjon’s masterful, free and graceful piano playing, and told of how the BFO makes not only Iván Fischer, but the whole of Hungary proud.
The Festival Orchestra had previously played only two concerts in Russia, both in Moscow. This time they played at the Stars of the White Nights Festival in the Mariinsky Theatre’s recently renovated concert hall. After the “wonderful concert”, reviewers wrote of how the orchestra’s encore truly left the audience in awe. “When the orchestra stood up and started singing in Russian, the air first froze from bewilderment before the audience erupted in applause.” The encore also enchanted the Ravenna audience. As the local press said of the BFO’s performance: “The concert proved that this orchestra is indeed one big family, which also explains the excellent, harmonious playing of the musicians.”
The Riga, Vilnius and Ravenna concerts were also broadcast live by local radio stations.
The Budapest Festival Orchestra’s next tour, in August, will be taking in London, Copenhagen, San Sebastian and Santander.