The Budapest Festival Orchestra has just completed the first European tour of the season, which has been an overwhelming success in London, Locarno, San Sebastian, Turin and Milan. Critics have given the concerts, which came with a real twist thanks to Iván Fischer, rave reviews.
The Budapest Festival Orchestra has toured the most exciting end-of-summer festivals in Europe with a programme featuring Brahms’ Symphonies No. 3 and 4, as well as a number of works from various Hungarian and Austrian composers.
London was the most important stop in the tour, where the orchestra gave two consecutive full-house concerts in front of an audience of nearly six thousand in Royal Albert Hall at the BBC Proms founded in 1895. The concert was broadcast by BBC live. The recording is available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04f8tqd.) According to a review published in The Guardian, BFO’s concerts have really topped ticket sales.
UK dailies wrote about breathtaking performance, unparalleled sensitivity, a powerful depth of concentration and exquisite harmony. The Times describe Festival Orchestra as a gloriously splendid ensemble where musicians play as if they were one person.
Even though international symphonic orchestras increasingly tend to sound very much alike, the Festival Orchestra definitely struck a unique chord, according to the critic of The Evening Standard, who believed Iván Fischer worked magic with the orchestra.
In addition to the harmony of the orchestra, a feature praised by all the reviewers was the special encore given by the orchestra, when they set down their instruments, formed a choir and sang songs by Dvorak and Brahms.
During the tour, Iván Fischer asked members of the orchestra to turn over a new leaf and begin to sing regularly. “Why? Because people should sing! Mothers should sing to their babies, children should sing in children's choirs and adults should rediscover this wonderful communication tool. So we should set an example and start to show that it is possible to overcome fears and inhibitions." said Mr. Fischer, the orchestra’s Music Director.
The tour had a tremendous impact. According to The Guardian, the choir “sang with remarkable precision and finesse.” The critic of The Independent described the singing as “bewitching” and suggested the orchestra could “effortlessly make it as a top-flight choir,” while The Telegraph highlighted how the orchestra demonstrated “the centrality of singing in Hungarian musical culture.” As the London Evening Standard put it, the encore was “testament to the success of the Kodály Method.”
Next, the orchestra visited Locarno in Italian Switzerland to give a performance in Chiesa di Francesco, a church several centuries old, as part of the 69th Settimane Musicali di Ascona, then San Sebastian, where they played on the beach of the Atlantic coast at the Musika Hamabostaldia festival, founded 75 years ago.
In what was a fitting conclusion of the tour, our internationally renowned musicians performed in Turin in the opening section of MITO, one of Italy’s major classical music festivals, then went on to conquer La Scala in Milan. This was the first time the orchestra gave a performance in La Scala. The event was attended by leading politicians from Lombardy and Rome, and concluded by a reception organised by the mayor of Milan. (A video summary is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Cq5wGVa6m8)
As reported by the Italian papers, the internationally prominent orchestra exuded love and respect, which was a wonderful and edifying experience for the audience.
The Brahms symphonies played during the tour will be next performed at the Bridging Europe Festival in the Palace of Arts on 12, 13 and 14 September, while Symphonies No. 1 and 2 will also be presented under the conductorship of Iván Fischer in May next year.