Edinburgh International Festival music review: Budapest Festival Orchestra Soloists, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Kettle
It was a fascinating programme of music by three composers grappling in very different ways with the new musical possibilities early 20th-century modernism had opened up for them. And if the colourful, characterful accounts by soloists from the Budapest Festival Orchestra (otherwise in town for Iván Fischer’s Marriage of Figaro, and making a welcome stop-off at the Queen’s Hall) sometimes tended to round off the works’ angularity and rough edges, there was no doubting their turbulent passion and astonishing intensity.
With Prokofiev, in his Overture on Hebrew Themes, it was clarinettist Ákos Ács who provided a gloriously authentic klezmer rawness to the Jewish tunes, while Poulenc’s Sextet for Piano and Wind cleverly dodged the kind of generic Gallic suavity it normally gets in favour of something far more restless, even if the helter-skelter opening came across as a bit of a scramble as a result.
The players pushed on through Poulenc’s moments of lush excess, treating them as just one more element in a Stravinskian jumble of contrasting styles and textures. It was brilliantly perceptive.
The players’ compatriot Bartók considered his early, Brahmsian Piano Quintet an apprentice work and would probably not have wanted it performed instead of his maturer music, but he could hardly have wished for a more seething, simmering account than the Budapest players delivered, full of unpredictable energy and supple folk rhythms.
It brought their fiercely intense recital to a spectacularly sonorous close.
Published in The Scotsman on 15 August 2015
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