A Dvořák sandwich of four pieces, filled with a single yet intensely flavoured slice of Beethoven which defines the entire gourmet dish, served up by the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Although the performances of the pieces by Dvořák were of remarkably high quality, the concerts on 20, 21 and 22 November will be remembered by many for the soloist of the Beethoven Piano Concerto, Zoltán Fejérvári. János Malina’s review was published in Muzsika.
The concert began with Antonín Dvořák’s Legend in C sharp minor. The free-flowing music immediately demonstrated again the outstanding form of the woodwinds, a level they kept up throughout the evening. In addition to the clarinet and flute solos, the oboes and bassoons also produced distinctly mellow sounds. Aside from a single slip up by the horns during the symphony, the brass section is also worthy of praise for their bright and tasteful tone. The Legend was followed by the composer’s Slavonic Dance No. 5 (from Op. 46), where the orchestra again proved their discipline, thoughtfulness and professionalism toward lighter music as well, naturally not diminishing the entertaining character of the piece. Precise entries, uniformly pulsating accompaniment, animated melodies, agogic accents played in unison, solos outlining the arcs of dialogues, and enticing rhythms brought the performance to life.
To close the Dvořák segment of the concert’s first part, a mixed choir piece titled The Forlorn Lover (Opuštěný) was sung by the members of the Festival Orchestra. It wasn’t the first time the orchestra surprised their audience with this trick. In fact, singing choral works has now become part of their main programme, not just during encores. The time has therefore come to evaluate the Budapest Festival Orchestra as a choir, something the programme guide emphasises by naming their choir coach, György Philipp. This is not merely a talented group in which all members have an affinity for choral music; the orchestra undergoes sustained choral training to live up to these tasks. While on previous occasions the musicians were grouped by vocal sections, this time everyone sang the Czech choral piece at their own music stands. This confusion had both pros and cons regarding the performance. On the one hand, it was very exciting to listen to the chorus in stereo, the parts sounding from different directions of the hall simultaneously as opposed to the traditional order. On the other hand, the distance between members singing the same part caused some of the voices to stand out, something that would have be remedied had the singers been standing next to each other. Still, the piece was performed to the highest of standards.Iván Fischer’s wrist and fingers finely indicated even the slightest of inflections, musical vibrations and pairs of notes, and his signals were flawlessly converted into sounds by the choir.
20 November, Müpa Budapest