Performances to go down in music history, featuring legendary ensembles as well as contemporary productions: Here is the full programme of the third Liszt Fest to evoke the composer’s spirit
Franz Liszt not only reshaped the history of music in the 19th century, but his influence is still clearly felt two centuries later, whether in classical, contemporary or even popular music, not to mention jazz, literature and dance. “This is our third Liszt Festival and, looking at the list of performers, it is a pleasure to see that Liszt’s validity has not diminished since the 19th century, and his art and oeuvre continue to have a strong influence on today’s performers”, begins Csaba Káel in the programme booklet of the Liszt Festival. And indeed, the guests of the all-arts event from 11 to 22 October are all modern-day standard-bearers of the Liszt experience.
One of the most anticipated performances of the festival is undoubtedly the home premiere of the unfinished Liszt opera. Inspired by Byron’s tragedy, the fragmentary Sardanapalo is now performable thanks to English music historian David Trippett and his team, and will be premiered in a major concert in a Hungarian concert hall by the Staatskapelle Weimar, paired with one of Liszt’s most important orchestral compositions, the Dante Symphony.
Just as Liszt renewed 19th century Romanticism, György Ligeti and György Kurtág renewed 20th century contemporary music. The Liszt Festival 2023 will pay tribute to the work of these two geniuses, who were bound together not only by their work but also by a friendship that lasted for six decades. “The Hungarian premieres of both Sardanapalo and Fin de partie have been preceded by years of organisational work, which is why we are delighted that this year’s Liszt Festival will finally see these two exceptional moments in music history,” said Janina Szomolányi, the festival’s operational director. The Hungarian premiere of György Kurtág’s one single opera based on Samuel Beckett’s work, which is 97 years old this year, will arrive in Budapest with a cast almost identical to that of the Milan debut, in a concert-like performance, And on the occasion of the Ligeti centenary, three expert interpreters of modern music, László Borbély, Gábor Csalog and János Palojtay, will pay tribute to the composer with piano pieces from the Musica ricercata cycle and Ligeti’s series of etudes.
Liszt left a lasting legacy and an incredibly rich oeuvre from his youth to his older years. The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, legendary in jazz circles, also has a career that spans decades. The style-defining big band has invited two other outstanding talents in their own genre to perform in Budapest: Japanese Hammond organ virtuoso Curuga Akiko will be joined by Hungarian soul diva Gigi Radics. The Kronos Quartet, which redefines the concept of string quartet and defies genre conventions, is about to sum up half a century of music with award-winning Iranian singer Mahsa Vahdtat. Although Polish pianist-composer Hania Rani is still earlier in her career, she is already one of the most sought-after artists in the genre despite her young age, weaving the sounds of jazz and electronic music into a softly falling lyric. It’s no surprise, then, that her concert in Budapest is so well attended that tickets are sold out months in advance.
Virtuoso Liszt piano pieces have certainly given many pianists a headache, but Gergely Bogányi is not afraid of a challenge, and his concert programme with the legendary Angelica Girls’ Choir conducted by Zsuzsanna Gráf is much more than a programme of popular Liszt pieces. In addition to a closed cycle of the composer’s lesser-known piano works and choral compositions with instrumental accompaniment, a piece originally written as a duet for piano will also be performed. The German Offenburg Trio will also be presenting chamber music compositions that have been undeservedly forgotten by the public. Their performance will include a selection of serenades by Hungarian composers from the first half of the 20th century.
However, it would be a sin to define Ferenc Liszt merely as a pianist, for he was a much more versatile artist: a conductor, a highly influential teacher and writer of music, and a boldly innovative composer. A similar artistic daring characterises János Feledi, whose performances, with their unique ideas, moods and visuals, always stir the Hungarian dance industry. This time, he will be performing dance pieces inspired by the compositions of two contemporary composers, Roland Szentpáli and György Orbán, and for the only time with a live orchestra.
Just like Liszt’s oeuvre, the centuries-old tradition of Hungarian folk music, folk dance and folk song is an integral part of the Hungarian cultural landscape. One of its most dedicated custodians is the Hungarian National Dance Ensemble, which this year is preparing for the festival with a new performance of Benjamin Eredics’ music from his “Castles, Warriors, Frontiers”, premiered in the spring. The four different sides of the world of Roma music come together in a joint production by Boban Marković Orkestar, Parno Graszt, Mónika Lakatos and Romafest Gypsy Dance Theatre, bringing traditional moments and atmospheres of Hungarian and Roma weddings to stage.
The mini-festivals within the Liszt Festival, as the composer did, are constantly looking for the possibility of something new. Isolation Budapest at the Akvárium Club, featuring some of the most cutting-edge progressive light music artists and bands, is a musical venture that fills a gap in the autumn programme of the capital city. The Margó Literary Festival and Book Fair will bring together the latest contemporary literary authors through writer-reader meetings, professional and portrait discussions, and will also feature last year’s Margó Prize winner Diána Vonnák, who will be making her debut at a special evening, according to the tradition. This year, Art Market Budapest, the region’s most important international contemporary art fair, will focus on contemporary Roma art, while PONT Festival will again seek to bring the wonders of the world to Budapest through an experiential experience of cultural values.
Source of original article: Librarius
Translation: Zsófia Hacsek