Home Theatre The Budapest Competition Orchestra’s Adagio from Mendelsohn’s Third is their crowning Proms achievement – Seen and Heard Worldwide

The Budapest Competition Orchestra’s Adagio from Mendelsohn’s Third is their crowning Proms achievement – Seen and Heard Worldwide

The Budapest Competition Orchestra’s Adagio from Mendelsohn’s Third is their crowning Proms achievement – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United KingdomUnited Kingdom Promenade 37 – Weber, Schumann, Mendelssohn: Sir András Schiff (piano), Budapest Competition Orchestra / Iván Fischer (conductor). Royal Albert Corridor, London, 12.8.2023. (CC)

Iván Fischer conducts pianist Sir András Schiff and the Budapest Competition Orchestra © BBC/Mark Allan

WeberDer Freischütz, Overture (1821)
R. Schumann – Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.54 (1845)
Mendelssohn – Symphony No.3 in A minor, Op.56 ‘Scottish’ (1829-42)

The Budapest Competition Orchestra and their conductor Iván Fischer are all the time welcome company on the BBC Proms. Their core traits: heat of sound, generosity of spirit, coupled with a way of journey (even enjoyable!) and an insatiable curiosity – even in a meat-’n’-two-veg programme similar to this – is compelling.

Proper from the opening oboe tuning (which solely landed on the anticipated A-natural after a melisma and which then gave out a number of different tones for various sections of the orchestra), this was not an bizarre Promenade. The forest-invoking horn quartet of Weber’s Der Freischütz was cut up into two pairs, every standing on both facet of the Royal Albert Corridor’s well-known organ. Visually impactful, the sound, too, was fabulously clear and heat. Equally, the road of double basses behind the orchestra (behind the woodwind) supplied a spinal twine of depth. How superbly the horns performed, the extra lively strains of the second participant brilliantly particular person but completely of the entire when it comes to timbre. This was the proper linking of very good ensemble (so collectively from all departments) and the frisson of stay efficiency. The overture is a micro-drama in and of itself, and Fischer offered it as such, if solely the precise opera had adopted …

However this was a live performance, and it was to Robert Schumann we turned. Proms performances by Sir András Schiff are all the time keenly anticipated, and the large ovation Schiff acquired from the Prommers actually attested to that. However then, the unthinkable: nearly as shoddy a gap gesture as one can think about. Approximate, and with the ultimate two chords out of sync with the orchestra. The efficiency settled to an extent – actually when it comes to proper notes – however by no means totally at dwelling, musically. Schiff’s attribute fantastic thing about tone was actually there, as was his wont to dwell on beauties and to deliver out favoured inside strains. A lot felt like chamber music, the orchestra superbly mild (despite the retention of the complete complement of six double basses). The principal oboe and clarinet have been notably fantastic (Victor Aviat and Ákos Ács, respectively); it was attention-grabbing to listen to the clarinet descents foregrounded as a form of postlude to the thematic statements (so usually they get misplaced within the texture). It was within the central motion (extra an Intermezzo than gradual motion) that Schiff sounded as soon as extra ungrounded, with even a way of rote creeping in; the ear naturally gravitated in the direction of the orchestra. The finale once more felt a little bit insecure from Schiff. Fascinating how Fischer carried out the triplet crotchets in three (versus a two beat, the second chopping via the second and third triplet crotchets); however the distraction was Schiff.

Encores however have been compulsory, however actually not what one may need anticipated. Schiff accompanied the (standing) orchestra in one in every of Brahms’s Zigeunerlieder; he did get his second of solo highlight, although, with Robert Schumann’s ‘The Blissful Farmer’ from Album for the Younger, Op.68, because the second encore.

Iván Fischer conducts the Budapest Competition Orchestra © BBC/Mark Allan

Thence to the best efficiency of Mendelssohn’s Third Symphony (the  ‘Scottish’) this reviewer has ever heard. All actions had energy and goal: the superbly formed first motion appeared, in its gradual opening, to be a blood-brother to Robert Schumann’s ‘Rhenish’ Symphony; however the Allegro un poco agitato may solely be from Mendelssohn’s hand. Fischer introduced a chamber music translucency to this that completely suited the music. Definitely there was a way of enlargement about this efficiency, and a deep vein of lyricism. How excellently the bassoonist Dániel Tallián emerged within the rollicking Scherzo, and the way the horns have been a-leaping. Pay attention fastidiously, and one hears the hair’s-breadth precision of the strings. However it was the third motion, the Adagio, that was the crowning achievement of the superlative efficiency – completely judged when it comes to tempo and circulation, the music appeared excellent, a processional winking at Berlioz, the entire infused with a freshness in efficiency one not often hears.

With that in thoughts, I stay not sure concerning the ultimate coup de théâtre of getting the sections of the orchestra arise one after the other in the direction of the top of the finale – a type of Mahler First Symphony ending that spreads via the orchestra. However nothing, nothing, may – or can – wipe out the reminiscence of Fischer and Budapest Orchestra’s beautiful gradual motion,

An encore, inevitably: a spirited Dvořák Slavonic Dance, No.9, Op.72/1 (or B.147/1, should you choose). Terrific.

Colin Clarke



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