source: www.ft.com; Richard Fairman
It was bad luck for the Ulster Orchestra to be followed by the crack combination of Iván Fischer and his Budapest Festival Orchestra. The idea of a Bank Holiday of dance music carried on, but the evening Prom was like stepping into another world. Three fleet-footed Brahms Hungarian Dances immediately lifted one’s spirits. A selection of Strauss family waltzes and polkas was scintillatingly played, the equal of anything heard at Vienna’s New Year’s Day concerts. In Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony Fischer produced an exceptional clarity and concentration that made every note feel freshly minted, and Kodály’s Dances of Galánta crackled with native Hungarian fire.
For their one encore the ladies of the orchestra sang a Moravian duet by Dvořák – what an odd choice, but charming. Happily, the Royal Albert Hall was full to witness this first-rate Prom, despite the continuing downpour. This was an audience that had paid for their tickets.