Photo: Bálint Hirling / Müpa Budapest

01. 02. 2024.

Gripping Performances and Boldly Innovative Arrangements at the Fourth Bartók Spring  

Held between 5 and 14 April at a dozen venues, the 4th Bartók Spring will again enliven the cultural scene of Budapest with award-winning productions, world-renowned performers, Hungarian and world premieres, unprecedented collaborations and outstanding names in contemporary classical and world music, jazz and pop, dance and the visual arts.

The Müpa Budapest will host the first ever performance in Hungary of Tan Dun’s Buddha Passion, which the Grammy and Oscar-winning Chinese composer wrote on the inspiration of a long meditation at the Mogao Caves, a World Heritage Site in Western China. The Austrian Rudolf Buchbinder, who is in the seventh decade of his piano career, will give two concerts with the Hungarian National Philharmonic, performing the complete piano concertos of his perennial favourite, Beethoven. Song of Songs at Müpa Budapest will feature such outstanding luminaries of cantorial singing, which plays a very important role in the Jewish liturgy, as the world-renowned Avraham Kirshenbaum, chief cantor of the Bethlen Square Synagogue, Immánuel Zucker and the American Nissim Saal, while the younger generation will be represented by Chaim Stern, Chief Cantor of Munich’s Ohel Jakob synagogue, Dániel Rudas and Gábor Raáb. Electric Fields, a joint project between French composer and producer David Chalmin and The National’s guitarist Bryce Dessner promises to be a real treat, using modern instrumentation techniques to render contemporary and timeless the poems of three exceptional women composers from the Middle Ages to Baroque.
Söndörgő and the Kelemen Quartet follow in the footsteps of Bartók’s legacy. In addition to the Bartók works that will form the backbone of the joint concert, the audience at the Liszt Academy will also get a taste of the latest Söndörgő album, which will be released in the summer of 2024. József Balog will perform piano pieces by Transylvanian-born composer Csaba Szabó at the Budapest Music Center, while the dazzlingly talented Júlia Karosi will present, together with Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu and Canadian trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, her new album at the House of Music. Along with her own compositions, Inner Voice also contains arrangements of folk songs and Bartók’s pieces. The Bartók Spring will also play host to Japan’s leading producer of electronic music and a visual artist, Ryoji Ikeda, whose live set, which is controlled by mathematical models, will transport the audience into a futuristic elsewhere. Jason Pierce’s Spiritualized, a leading formation of new psychedelic rock from Britain without whom a lot of bands from Tame Impala through MGMT to King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard would sound altogether differently, will give their first concert in Hungary at the Akvárium Klub. Budapest Ritmo, one of the most important world music festivals in Central Europe will again bring to the heart of the Hungarian capital the freshest acts of the scene from Africa to the Baltic Sea, from Bantu punk through Estonian harpists and Balkan brass bands to ethno-jazz fusion. 
The lovers of dance will also have a busy calendar, with two Hungarian premieres and a truly world-class production at the festival. Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, a world-famous company of long standing brings Nijinsky Award-winning Jean-Christophe Maillot’s choreography for Cinderella to Erkel Theatre, the Danube Art Ensemble’s production was inspired by the symbolic messages of Székely gates, and the two parts of the Company FrenÁk’s new production, which counterpoint and complement each other, reflect on the contradictions of our time. At their highly successful all-arts performance at the 2022 Bartók Spring, ‘Meshi’ Majda Mária Guessous, the Ballet Company of Győr and the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble focused on the connections of Arabic and Hungarian music, while this new edition of Pure Source will highlight some characteristic pieces of Bartók’s oeuvre through the connections of music and dance, by referencing the melodies he collected in Turkey, as well as the work of Turkish composers for whom Bartók was seminal.
There is no Bartók Spring without visual art, and the Museum of Fine Arts will exhibit, in collaboration with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, a selection from the works of Hungarian photographers who emigrated to the United States – among them Martin Munkácsi, Robert Capa, André Kertész and László Moholy-Nagy. The Hungarian National Gallery presents some two hundred piece at a retrospective of the life’s work of Margit Anna, a brilliant painter, and the Ludwig Museum looks at European identity through the photo series of trumpeter Till Brönner, who is often dubbed as the German Chet Baker, while the Day of Poetry will be celebrated in Müpa Budapest.