A Marathon from Brahms, Müpa Budapest and the BFO
There are only five days to go before the music of Johannes Brahms fills Müpa Budapest. Have you ever heard all four symphonies of the giant of romantic composition played consecutively? Do you like surprises? Do you have the stomach for marathon amounts of music that last from morning till night? The best ensembles in Hungary will be gathering together on 22 January for the Brahms Marathon, organised jointly by the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Müpa Budapest.
The Budapest Festival Orchestra and Müpa Budapest are co-organising their tenth grand Marathon for 22 January, to coincide with the National Day of Hungarian Culture. Alongside Johannes Brahms’ four symphonies, the all-day event will include his piano compositions, works for chamber orchestras, as well as his chamber and choral music. The performers are all outstanding musicians on the Hungarian music scene.
Those visiting Müpa Budapest are in for a truly unique experience as they will have the opportunity to listen to all four of Brahms’ symphonies played back-to-back. Concerto Budapest (conductor: András Keller) will be preforming the dark and dramatic First, with its sweeping and subtle elements. Brahms thought his Second so pleasant and merry that it could have been composed for newly-weds. The choice of the Győr Philharmonic Orchestra (conductor: Kálmán Berkes) to play this piece was a deliberate one; it premièred under the baton of Brahms’ friend János Richter, whose father had played a key role in the formation of the Győr Philharmonic.
The MÁV Symphony Orchestra (conductor: Péter Csaba) will deliver the heroic and enigmatic Third, considered by the composer’s friend and music critic Eduard Hanslick to be the most perfect of Brahms’ symphonies. You may find this piece familiar - not only has it been used in several films, both Frank Sinatra and Carlos Santana also took form its melodies. The Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra (conductor: János Kovács) will be playing a piece which inspired, among many others, the progressive rock band ‘Yes’ - the sombre and serious Fourth.
The Brahms Marathon will also feature works of chamber music. The Kelemen Quartet, along with Maxim Rysanov and Dóra Kokas, will be performing the String Sextet in B-flat major, while the Budapest Strings will be playing Serenade No.1 in D-major. The Cantemus Mixed Choir, with those renowned performers of the piano four-hands Károly Zentai and Dóra Bizják, promise a real delicacy with their triplet of performances: Three Motets, the Five Songs for Mixed Choir and the Liebeslieder Waltzes. The BFO’s Chamber Ensemble will be appearing at the Marathon with Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet in B minor, while Ferenc Rados will be evoking the oeuvre of the great German composer and pianist through his Eight Piano Pieces and Variations on a Theme by Schumann.
Following the Festival Orchestra’s concert at the BBC Proms, a critic for Bachtrack wrote that “when it comes to Brahms, Iván Fischer knows exactly what he likes”. That is why the BFO will be taking no risks when they bring the day to a close with a surprise concert.
In addition, students of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music will be performing free concerts in the Glass Hall throughout the day. The Marathon’s audiences at Müpa Budapest will be able to view screenings in the auditorium and visit the exhibition in the lobby.
Once again this year, you’ll be able to see the performances online - live streaming of the concerts in HD quality will be available through mupa.hu and bfz.hu.