Budapest Festival Orchestra
Uncategorized February 06, 2014


Márton Devich, HetiVá There is a recurring, five-minute long “intermezzo” on Mezzo Channel, during which musicians reveal, among other things, which piece of world literature they would take with them to a desert island. In most cases, the answer is one of J. S. Bach’s works

You can never get tired of Bach’s music, not even if you listen to it from morning till night, since he casts light on the difference between sacred and secular, good and evil with enormous power. Each rehearsal (day) of the Festival Orchestra (BFO) begins with a Bach choral. As a form of devotion, spiritual caesura – as Iván Fischer put it – before attending to music from the noisy outside world, no matter what the choral is about, or whether somebody is religious or not. In my opinion, it comes down to this: God is invited to their rehearsals.

The result speaks for itself, which was also proven by the BFO’s Bach Marathon in the Palace of Arts on 2 February. The 13-hour long flow of music, which offered numerous musical delicacies and featured excellent guest artists such as renowned Belgian early musicians from the Kuijken family, was an unforgettable experience. Popular compositions were performed, and to demonstrate the difference between the historical and modern performance style, Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1-3 and 4-6 were played in modern style and on period instruments, respectively, by the Budapest Strings Chamber Orchestra and the Aura Musicale.

The two evening concerts were probably the highlight of the event. In the Festival Theatre, three geniuses shared their thoughts on Bach. The audience was first enthralled by pianist Dénes Várjon’s play, and propelled into infinite dimensions by the English Suite in A minor, then Kristóf Baráti played the fairy-tale Partita in D minor on the violin, following the path of light, and finally cellist Miklós Perényi performed Suite in C major, brightening listeners and purifying the reality on the ground. It was followed by a double concerto (with Johannes Pramsohler and Marlene Ito playing the violin solo) in the concert hall, and – to dot the i’s – the BFO’s historical performance of the Magnificat, a celebratory cantata adapting the canticle of Mary as told in the Gospel of Luke, conducted by Iván Fischer, featuring the excellent singers of the Saint Ephraim Choir. It was elaborate and gripping music-making. The concert hall turned into the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, and the conductor even got the audience singing a final Bach choral at the end of the marathon.

A day in the Festival Orchestra’s life begins and ends the same way: high up, above the clouds, where the sun shines. There you are worthy of a halo. And you can’t really get any higher.