Kremer/Keller: killer combo hits the road

Solo classical musicians around the age of 70 need to wrestle with a difficult question. Should they continue as a soloist (despite signs of aging), or become a conductor, or limit one’s activities to chamber music, or teach in academia? Most opt for a comfortable professorship to spend their sunset years, a few others decide to favor the baton and podium to keep themselves in the stage spotlight, but very few can actually achieve the … Continue reading

Kálmán Theatre Debuts in Budapest with “Riviera Girl”

“The struggle for pleasure is the struggle for life,” uttered after an dramatic pause near the end of the Hungarian premiere of a new revival of “Riviera Girl” (1917) in the new Kálmán Imre Theatre on April 20, pretty much summed up how to fathom such unfathomable things as war, gambling, and love. That scene, an electric moment where one of the three men who were competing madly for the hand of a glamorous theatre singer, … Continue reading

“Naïs” a sublime finale for MÜPA’s Early Music Festival

Jean Philippe Rameau’s late-Baroque opera “Naïs” (1749) served as the luminous grand finale of MÜPA’s recent Early Music Festival, which featured six concerts with international artists in the field of early music performance practice. From February 19 to March 4, soloists like countertenor Philippe Jaroussky and soprano Simone Kermes, and the groups Europa Galante, Ensemble Artaserse, Bach Consort Wien, and Budapest’s own Purcell Choir and Orfeo Orchestra eloquently demonstrated the tightly structured and highly ornamented … Continue reading

Berezovsky Thrills Budapest With “Rach 3”

That almighty Russian piano training! It’s akin to Olympic-level sports discipline that guarantees the gold. Following in the footsteps of the great Russian pianists like Sviatoslav Richter, Vladimir Horowitz, Emil Gilels, piano giant Boris Berezovsky blew into Budapest to perform “Rach 3” (vernacular for Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor) with his astounding Olympic expertise at the Liszt Academy on Feb. 18 and 19. And what a mighty wind it was. With the … Continue reading

Folk-based Musical Tapestries at MÜPA Delight 

Folk music is the one of the most natural expressions of who we are. The classical repertoire is full of works written by composers who have tapped into historical treasure-troves of folk music as source material. The results illuminate the source as much as produce extraordinary masterpieces. Concerto Budapest’s “Roots and Routes” program on Jan. 26 in MÜPA’s Bela Bartók Hall explored several folk-inspired tapestries with song-and-dance inflected scores by Liszt, Dvorak, and a world … Continue reading

Varga’s Score Captures the Silly Seriousness of 1924

In 1966, history professors in the U.S. spoke carefully worded provisos regarding Soviet Russia’s promise that it would be able to penetrate the leadership of America without firing a single shot. The recent resurrection of a 1924 silent Soviet propaganda film, with a new score by composer Judit Varga, made its Hungarian debut on Jan. 12 at MÜPA. The occasion was a delightful combination of lively arts and a fascinating vehicle of political perspective. Directed … Continue reading

Mátyási’s Magnificent Mountains

Europe’s Alps have always been revered as one of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders, and painter Péter Mátyási’s representation of them showing at the Molnár Ani Galéria in Budapest is sure to fire up even more amazement. The everyday household materials he used to create the seven pieces shown in his exhibit, “Wunderwelt,” are practically tantamount to a minor mountain climbing challenge. Using only masking tape, electrical tape, plexi-glass film, a few lightbulbs, and … Continue reading

Lang Lang Leaps from Languorous to Lounge

Pianist Lang Lang, the wunderkind now in the prime of his global career, enjoyed a sold-out house at MÜPA’s Béla Bartók Hall on Nov. 14, where he played a solo recital that pretty much rang true to the scuttlebutt bandied about him for years. Episodes of serious artistry were mixed with a somewhat alarming penchant for the kind of histrionics which harken back to the likes of Daniel Helfgott, if not Harpo Marx. First the … Continue reading

C!RCA – What Will Have Been

Circa is Australia’s leading contemporary circus, and under director Yaron Lifschitz, their award-winning works have been seen in 34 countries across six continents. They are currently touring three different shows across Europe and after last night’s terrific What Will Have Been, at Trafo, I wish I could see them all. Early on we are treated to a stunning display of vertical rope work by Lauren Herley, whose contortionist skills were on full display. Whether leaping from the top of the … Continue reading

Infinita

The enchanting, joyful, Infinita by Berlin based, Familie Flöz provided another dose of cultural delight, courtesy of the Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival. Infinita is about the beginning and end of things. A puzzle of life and death in which the first struggles of a baby and scenes from childhood, are interwoven with moments from the end of life. The play debuted in 2006, and ten years of performance and stellar reviews prove that the story is timeless. Not an evening to dally over a pre-show … Continue reading