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Off to a strong start: The BFO kicks off season in Hollywood


Off to a strong start: The BFO kicks off season in Hollywood

On their tour in August, Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra gave three concerts at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and one at the Lincoln Center in New York as part of the Mostly Mozart Festival. The US concerts of the orchestra drew an audience of altogether 25,000.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, the Hollywood Bowl is among the top ten live music concert venues in the USA. During the summer, it is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the rest of the year to the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. It has hosted top performers such as The Beatles, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Elton John, Cher, Jason Mraz, Depeche Mode, Lady Gaga, Kanye West and Linkin Park. The list of its classical music performers is no less impressive, with star musicians including Yo-Yo Ma, Sir Simon Rattle, Zubin Mehta, Lang Lang, Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell.

Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra returned after 25 years to this iconic concert venue with three different programmes. The introduction called the BFO “a celebrated guest orchestra”, and Iván Fischer “a brilliant conductor”. In its review, the Los Angeles Times mentioned that the orchestra, which has had a regular place on the international best orchestra lists, takes everything they do with utmost seriousness. The first concert programme was described as follows: “Beethoven’s “Egmont” Overture was searing. Brahms’ First Symphony was majestic. Bruch’s syrupy Violin Concerto No. 1 was treated with rare nobility by the orchestra and its refined soloist, Nicola Benedetti. Depth was the order of an admirable evening of music making, in which everything was of the highest order.” After the third concert the L.A. Times concluded that the BFO showed why we need Mozart.

The orchestra’s concert in New York was lauded as a must-hear event and Louis Langrée, the music director of the Mostly Mozart Festival, and Wynton Marsalis, world-famous virtuoso trumpeter and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center were in the audience.

This was the orchestra’s third performance at the festival. The New York Times found that guest orchestras have revitalised the Mostly Mozart Festival, calling the BFO’s play “vibrant and insightful”, and Langrée’s presence an “encouraging, and telling gesture of public support”.

Classical Source’s review, which gave the BFO’s performance the maximum of five stars, praised the BFO’s rendition of Haydn’s Symphony 88 for being “precise, nuanced and perfectly balanced, the music emerging with clarity and elegance”, described ‘Jupiter’ Symphony as “played superbly”, and noted that Trinidadian soprano Jeanine De Bique “delivered each number with exceptional ease, tonal clarity and panache” when singing the Handel arias.

Budapest Festival Orchestra will start the 2019/20 concert season at home with a free Community Week between September 2 and 10, then go on to headline the Bridging Europe festival from 18 September in Budapest. This year, the music festival co-organised with Müpa Budapest will shine the limelight on Italian culture. One of the festival’s major sensations is Iván Fischer’s new staging of Monteverdi’s L'Orfeo, for which he composed the ending himself based on the original libretto.