Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Budapest Festival Orchestra - Christmas Surprise

On December 26, Dan and I took my family to the Christmas Surprise Concert of the Budapest Festival Orchestra.  This was the second time that we have heard the ensemble (see my previous post for more info). As before, this concert was non-traditional.  The point of the "surprise" is that the audience does not know the program for the concert. When we entered the building (The Budapest Congress Center), we were handed a program. I assumed that maybe the pieces were only a surprise until you came in the door. I was wrong.  The program listed 28 pieces by 16 composers but we didn't use this program until toward the end of the concert.

The concert began with Brahms' Academic Overture.  The Conductor, Ivan Fischer, announced the program from the stage. Other works included pieces such as: an overture by Smetana, the March of the Priests from Mozart's Magic Flute, and the Scherzo from Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

One of the best parts was the variety of styles and sizes of ensembles. For smaller groups, the musicians played off-stage on a platform.  Some of the small ensemble works included: a triple violin concerto by Telemann and a low brass group playing Henry Mancini's Pink Panther.

At one point, the conductor spoke about the excellent music teachers in Hungary. One local bassoon teacher conducted her 31 students in a large bassoon ensemble. They played popular songs such as Do Re Mi from the Sound of Music, the Baby Elephant Walk, and Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It was great! I hope I can have an ensemble of my own students some day.

One of the most surprising elements was that the musicians from the orchestra pulled double duty in this concert because they also sang as a choir! The group sang a few madrigal type songs by Morley and Monteverdi. It was a unique part of an orchestra concert.

Finally, toward the end of the concert, we finally found out the meaning of the programs.  First, three seat numbers were chosen, out of the tuba! Then the people in these three seats were allowed to choose which piece they wanted to hear off of the program.  Then the audience voted for one of the these three pieces. The winner was the Bach Air.

To conclude the evening, the orchestra played Igor Stravinsky's Firebird. It was excellent! I love this piece. It was a wonderful selection to close the concert.  Here is a recording of this piece if you'd like to hear it:

I particularly enjoyed this concert because it brought variety to the traditional concert setting.  It also speaks highly of the Budapest Festival Orchestra that they are able to have concerts such as these. No matter what they play, they will draw an audience.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This Budapest Festival Orchestra is just fabulous. I never knew about this until I read your article. Thanks for this informative post. Can you tell me something about the Budapest NY events? I would love to attend their events!