Franz Liszt: “the concert is me!” – Passionate rhapsodies on stage

As the years pass by, I find myself increasingly open to musical productions that operate with a fusion of styles that are seemingly distant from each other. Not only the fusion of classical music and jazz, but also the blend of classical and world music has a lot to show us. In fact, if I say more specifically that the Liszt Festival at Müpa Budapest is now staging a concert that takes Hungarian music of gypsy origin all the way to the fusion of jazz and rock and roll, then we can be quite sure to listen to a deeply emotional and passionate performance at the Rhapsody concert on 15 October.

How does all this relate to Franz Liszt? Our great composer called himself a rhapsodist, a singer of heroic songs, and he wanted to adapt ancient Hungarian music in his rhapsodies. Gypsy music, which Liszt described as unusual and daring at the time, is an exquisite source of inspiration for this genre, which is characterised by its free arrangement of melodies.

The programme for the Rhapsody concert is not only varied in genres, but also features a line-up of performers who are a musical delight in their own ways, so it is with great anticipation that we can expect a unique experience together.

Guitarist Ferenc Snétberger is also known for his genre-crossing style of playing, and is known to experiment with mixing different sounds and styles. His inspiration comes from Hungarian Roma traditions and Brazilian music as well as flamenco. If you haven’t had the chance to listen to his album, entitled Hallgató, released in February 2021, this concert will be a great opportunity to do so, as he will also perform Rhapsody 1, written for guitar and orchestra.

Inspired by his visit to the Buchenwald extermination camps, the movement Dance from his work In Memory of My People, which evokes the Holocaust years, will be performed. The violin virtuoso Roby Lakatos has been compared to Paganini in his playing and musical technique, whom Liszt had heard in 1831 and who, as a result, immediately decided to apply Paganini’s effects to the piano. Stringed instruments will play an important role in the concert, adding to the evening’s momentum and emotional saturation. And speaking of strings, Roby Lakatos, also known as the creator of the unorthodox gypsy fusion style of music, has himself developed his own violin, with strings made of patina, aluminium, titanium and silver, an instrument that is loved and enjoyed by many. Amongst his many accolades, the artist, who was awarded the Golden String at the Meiringen Music Festival last July, is widely regarded as a master of combining musical styles like no other, and in this concert he demonstrates this through his symphony Mama and Bird in the Dust.

There will be no shortage of classical music inspirations at the concert. Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, full of varied ideas, and Brahms’ Piano Quartet Rondo alla zingarese, or Gypsy Rondo, will be performed during the evening. Among the male performers a female virtuoso also appears, Xénia Sárközi, a soprano singer from the Opera House, who appeared in the Virtuózok competition and has been singing since the age of six. The singer, who is originally from Felvidék, has Wagner pieces in her repertoire, but this time she will show a more gentle side.

Gábor Homoky, a Junior Príma award-winning violinist, will also be undertaking a daring fusion with Old Sounds as he reimagines Elvis Presley songs in the light of gypsy music. His fellow musicians will be Kálmán Dráfi, István Ruszó, Oszkár Németh, Ernest Bangó and Imre Sárközi.The orchestral backing of the evening will be provided by one of Hungary’s leading orchestras, Concerto Budapest, conducted by András Keller, a world-renowned violinist. The renowned jazz pianist Kálmán Cséki will appear in several of the musical arrangements on the programme, including both folk song and Carmen arrangements. It seems that Gypsy music truly knows no boundaries and no musical limits, and the previous list shows the wide spectrum of musical imagination that musicians can capture, which is sure to be a great source of entertainment.

Liszt once said:

“the concert is me”.

His spirit permeates the programme for the evening of 15 October, and Mendelssohn’s quote, originally addressed to Liszt, rings true for the performers:

“I have never heard a performer who can put his musical conception into his fingertips to this degree.”

What is certain is that it will be an unforgettable experience, because the diverse programme and the excellent performers will open up a whole new dimension of music.

Get your tickets here!

Article: Anna Rácz

Translation: Nóra Fehér