Budapest Festival Orchestra
News December 22, 2013


An unexpected telephone call at 5pm: quick, we’ve got to go to the Music Academy: Richter!!! – who popped in on the spur of the moment, as usual. Swooning crowd on the balcony of the conservatoire, shocked silence as early as the first sounds: this day changed our perception of music, piano and Mussorgsky. A miracle of God, revelation, annunciation

And now we felt something of the same kind. Yet the beginning was depressing. Nothing about Kavakos fitted in with Mozart, he was Goliath with a tin whistle, but he needed Bartók or finally Prokofiev... We had a good rest after a whole tiring week during the Haydn performance, the music was too thin in these arctic acoustics. But after the sharp sound of the trumpet in the Promenade, the stage was bathed in light. It seemingly did not do much, but with the black magic of its character it put a spell on the orchestra, and the sforzato blatting Gnome broke through the barriers of perception. The fathomless emptiness above us became a beneficial dome, we could appreciate each and every part of the amazing gestures, even separately. The xylophone dots could be both heard and seen, the timpani beats were sharply differentiated from the low pitch of the gran cassa, inserted bassoon sounds and sordino trumpet blasts could be clearly perceived, while the unity of the orchestral sound was undeniable. A heavenly encounter between ingenious fragments: the elemental strength of Mussorgsky, the energetic musicality of Kavakos and the greatest ever singularity of the Festival Orchestra members’ large community. Fairy play in the Tuileries Garden, sparkling scherzo character at the market at Limoges, coruscating lightness in the Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks.

The ethereal sound of the saxophone embraced the section of the winds, the portrait of Samuel Goldenberg was in marked contrast to that of Schmuÿle, and the silence of the Catacombs spoke softly “with the dead in a dead language”. We heard a tuba solo as soft as the clarinet, as compact as the bassoon, as flexible as the viola and yet so impressive as if it was the oboe of giants. The voice of József Bazsinka filled the frightening and yet beautiful legato melody with a thousand shades of the human voice. Kavakos raised himself up on his toes, seemingly defying gravity while jumping, he arrived at the Great Gate of Kiev with a huge cosmic dynamic, and his compelling performance was finally crowned by a fortified fortissimo with Ravelian splendour.

We are unable to appreciate the laboratory acoustics of the Palace of Arts, but the exception confirms the rule: only Turangalîla was as enthralling as this., Fehér Elephánt