Following their six-stop European tour, the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Iván Fischer hosted refugee families staying in Hungary at their 22 October Cocoa Concert in the ensemble’s Budapest rehearsal hall.
“I was tremendously saddened by the events in Őcsény; that people are so frightened and that they demonstrate such hatred towards these poor refugee families visiting their town,” Budapest Festival Orchestra musical director Iván Fischer had said earlier. Driven by the same conviction, he invited refugee families and families from Őcsény to one of the orchestra’s 22 October Cocoa Concerts. “If they listen to the concert together, it may lead to a miracle. For years I have been working to build Hungary’s good name in the world, and that is not an aspiration I wish to give up on,” Fischer added.
Two families from Afghanistan accepted the invitation of the orchestra, and stayed after the performance to discuss their experiences at the concert with Iván Fischer. (Click here for the short video.) The Őcsény families were unable to attend the concert.
From Amsterdam to Paris
The week prior to the Cocoa Concert, the orchestra earned resounding ovations at concert halls in Amsterdam, Stuttgart, Antwerp, Dortmund, Eindhoven and Paris. These concerts saw the debut of the orchestra’s Baroque ensemble – a truly unique group – on the international stage. The musicians performed the first piece, by Bach, using period instruments and while standing, with Iván Fischer conducting from next to the organ. A Dutch review highlighted this novelty: “Few orchestras are capable of playing Bach on authentic instruments, a popular Mozart piano concerto and a romantic Italian symphony all in the same concert (...) There are musicians who devote their lives to one musical genre, and then there is Iván Fischer, who deals basically with every musical period. What energy!” – the critic noted.
Listening to Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, it became clear that the BFO is one of the best orchestras in the world – according to critics of the ensemble’s concert in Stuttgart. Following their performance in Paris, one critique highlighted the “memorable” and “fantastic” rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. The author says the BFO proves that an orchestra need not be centuries old to possess unique and amazing sound. Another five-star French critique also wrote about the “masterful execution” of Tchaikovsky’s symphony.
The featured soloist for the concerts was seven-time Grammy award winner Emanuel Ax, whose “elegant and dexterous” performance combining “fire and water” was “a joy to hear.” The world-renowned pianist was on stage not only for his solos, but also, during the encore, joined the percussion section, entertainingly substituting on the crotales for the Pizzicato Polka by Johann and Joseph Strauss.
The Festival Orchestra also gave three full-house concerts at Müpa Budapest, featuring the same line-up that performed on the tour. Next, on 28 and 29 October, Gábor Takács-Nagy will lead the ensemble at the Liszt Academy, and then in November, Dmitrij Kitajenko will be in town to conduct the orchestra for a concert of Russian music.