The new season of the Festival Orchestra has once again started with the annual Budapest Mahlerfest.
The Palace of Arts and the Budapest Festival Orchestra organized in 2005 the first festival devoted to the life and work of Gustav Mahler who spent three years in the Budapest Opera House and played a crucial role in reforming and modernizing Hungarian music life.
2011 saw the seventh edition of the festival which opened on September 9th. The opening concert featured the BFO under the baton of Music Director Iván Fischer. The programme included orchestral songs by Hugo Wolf, the world premiere of György Orbán's Serenade No.4. commissioned by the Mahlerfest, as well as Mahler's Symphony No.1. composed and first performed in Budapest. The soloist of the Wolf songs was Austrian baritone, Wolfgang Holzmair.
On the same day two exhibitions opened in the Palace of Arts. The one entitled "Mahler, the Wagner conductor" has come from the Gustav Mahler Library and Music Archives in Paris, the other one from the private collection of Péter Fülöp, presenting different historical recordings of Mahler's works on the programme of this year's festival. The BFO and Iván Fischer repeated the programme of the opening concert on September 10th and 11th in the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall.
The concert on September 13th in the Festival Theatre featured two Mahler song cycles: Songs of a Wayfarer and the Rückert Lieder. The soloist was Austrian baritone Markus Werba who sang two years ago with huge success the role of the Count in the BFO's production of Mozart's Figaros Hochzeit in Budapest. In the first half of the concert the audience heard Mahler's Symphony No.4. in an arrangement for piano four hands, performed by András Kemenes and Gábor Csalog.