Concert Review: Budapest Festival Orchestra blows people’s minds

Feb. 6, 2009

After seeing shows from backstage and the lighting booth, I finally got a chance to catch a performance at the Van Wezel from the actual seats. The venue is a truly unique hall that kind of made me feel like I was in the inside of a sea shell. The celebration of pastels is purely Florida yet strangely neutral. It’s no wonder so many types of shows fit well in the hall.

The performance I had the pleasure of attending was the Budapest Festival Orchestra, and i will have to guess that they effectively blew people’s minds. Conductor Ivan Fischer was a charming host and preceded each piece with background stories about Hungarian folk music and how it has evolved. The audience seemed to encompass a huge Hungarian population and most of the talk I could hear before the show involved words absent from my vocabulary. Fischer’s accent rounded the vibe out with a wholly Eastern European feel.

The orchestra played a number of powerful pieces from Brahms and Liszt, but the highlight of the night was the father and son violin duo of József Lendvay Sr. and Jr. It was incredible to really hear the differences between the old traditional folk style of father and the new classically-trained style of son. The pair rarely play together, so it made for an intimate family gathering that the audience felt a part of. It was made all the more astounding at the end of József Lendvay Junior’s solo when he broke out with a string of jaw-dropping virtuosic runs – the kind only seen in the world’s most accomplished musicians. All together, the evening made for a very enjoyable mix of traditional European flavors, calming melodies and world-class talent.

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