Budapest Festival Orchestra
Press reviews September 06, 2011

Best of the Proms?

Yes, tonight it's Prom 69 (out of 74). It has to be the finest classical music festival of all, and this year I seem to have heard most of its offerings, thanks to Listen Again. Of many special moments, there is one that stands out: that's the Mahler symphony no. 1, performed in Prom 63 - I don't have a photograph of that number!

It came at the end of the first of two concerts last Friday given by the Budapest Festival Orchestra. I reckon I know this symphony pretty well, but I have never heard it sound as beautiful as in the performance conducted by Iván Fischer. The thunderous brass of the opening bars of the last movement was matched by a glorious, shimmering pianissimo at the work's opening.

The orchestra would have been exhausted by the evening's end: it went on to give the late-night crowd 90 minutes of encores, played without rehearsal: pieces were selected by audience ballot from a list of some 250, printed in the programme which each ticket-holder was given. A risky but wonderfully innovative approach to music-making!

Freeranger (blog)