With the most exciting performers on the national and international cultural scene, prestigious early music and symphony ensembles, a living legend of flamenco, award-winning children’s opera and a diverse musical offering, the Bartók Spring International Arts Weeks will revitalize the Hungarian capital in March 2023. The Czech Philharmonic are coming, as are Péter Eötvös and the Klangforum Wien, Benjamin Appl and the Swiss Gabetta Consort, Sara Baras and her company, the Orfeo Orchestra and the Purcell Choir, and Kristóf Baráti with the Philharmonia Orchestra from London. Tickets for the festival will be available from 23 November 2022.
The Czech Philharmonic will open the festival with a brand new work, the piano concerto of Thierry Escaich, the French organist long known and loved by Hungarian audiences. The piece will have its world premiere in Prague a mere two weeks before the performance in Budapest, where the programme also includes the timeless ballet music of Bartók and Stravinsky. Semyon Bychkov, who was named Conductor of the Year at the International Opera Awards, will stand on the podium, the featured soloist will be Seong-Jin Cho.
One of the highlights of classical music in 2023 will be the 100th birthday of György Ligeti, and the Bartók Spring will of course join the celebrations. For their concert with Klangforum Wien, Péter Eötvös, a former collaborator of the composer, has chosen three pieces that perfectly illustrate Ligeti’s innovative, highly playful and brilliantly eclectic musical world. The concertos – for violin, cello and piano – will feature celebrated Hungarian artists: Barnabás Kelemen, László Fenyő and Zoltán Fejérvári.
Lovers of lighter genres should not miss one of the spring sensations on the rock music scene: the festival will host the first Hungarian concert of American musician Mark Oliver Everett and his cultic band, EELS.
The Orfeo Orchestra and the Purcell Choir, whose mission is the authentic performance of early music, are also preparing a real treat for the Easter weekend. Their founder and leader, György Vashegyi has for years been studying one of the 18th century’s most beautiful poems about the suffering and death of Jesus, the Passion of Barthold Heinrich Brockes, which inspired the compositions of many of his contemporaries, including Handel, Telemann and, in 1725, Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel. The Hungarian performance of Stölzel’s work in the Ceremonial Hall of Pesti Vigadó, almost 300 years after its premiere, promises to be a real sensation of the festival.
Thanks to the Swiss specialists of Baroque music, violinist Andrés Gabetta and his Gabetta Consort, Bach’s finest orchestral works and arias will be performed on period instruments, with the participation of Benjamin Appl, one of the most promising baritones of our time and a former student of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
The lovers of dance have also a day to mark in their calendars, as one of today’s most passionate flamenco dancers, Sara Baras will set hearts racing with her performance. With its lavish costumes, the pulsating rhythm of flamenco and the overwhelming power of live music, Alma (Soul) invites the audience to a thrilling encounter with the “Queen of Flamenco.”
Frau Holle, Dániel Csengery’s long-awaited opera for children will also have its premiere at the festival. The piece was written for Müpa Budapest’s 2020 Composition Competition, and became the best of its category. Of the countless films and theatre productions he scored, Csengery found his way into the heart of audiences with his music for Liza the Fox Fairy. His lively opera, conducted by Zsolt Jankó and performed by the Budapest Strings, is guaranteed not to disappoint families interested in fairy tales.
The Philharmonia Orchestra of London boasts a history of more than 70 years. The programme of their performance at the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall includes Brahms’ celebratory overture, and a masterpiece each by an emblematic Finnish and Hungarian composer. This is no random choice: for the second year running, the orchestra is led by one of the world’s most innovative conductors, Finland’s Santtu-Matias Rouvali, who will conduct Sibelius’ gorgeous Symphony No. 5 and Bartók’s Violin Concerto. The work of the highly influential Hungarian composer, with which Yehudi Menuhin, the world-famous violinist also achieved overwhelming success in 1953, will be performed this time by one of Hungary’s most outstanding soloists, Kristóf Baráti.
The lovers of culture and those who seek to recharge their batteries have a lot to look forward to this spring, with unmissable events and unforgettable experiences on offer at the Bartók Spring International Arts Weeks.