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Explore the Unique Sound of Concerto Budapest Symphony Orchestra

October 14, 2019 | By Concerto Budapest

András Keller, artistic director and chief conductor of the Concerto Budapest Symphony Orchestra since 2007, is also a world-renowned Hungarian violinist, founder of the Keller Quartet, professor of violin at the Guildhall School of Music in London and holder of more than 70 international prizes.

Introducing Concerto Budapest

The orchestra is known as the most genuine in the Bartók-Kurtág-Ligeti interpretation and, under Maestro Keller’s leadership, has acquired an overwhelming, ever-expanding classical repertoire. Highly acclaimed soloists are routine guests of the orchestra, including Gidon Kremer, Krzysztof Penderecki, Boris Berezovsky, Neeme Jarvi, Angela Hewitt, Heinz Holliger, Steven Isserlis and Evgeni Koroliov as well as a great many other celebrated musicians.

“Thirty years ago, when I launched my career, the sound of the greatest string quartets and symphony orchestras could be instantaneously differentiated. Today, it is much more difficult,” says Maestro Keller. “Now, Concerto Budapest has the chance to clearly distinguish its musical personality.”

Adds Maestro Keller, “Our distinguishing characteristic is that we are Hungarian, which also means in this case that the Bartók tradition strongly defines our musical way of thinking. Additional defining qualities are the teachings of my most important master, György Kurtág. I am thinking of the Bartók parlando, that Kurtág recitative sound capable of preserving the grand musical arcs while simultaneously allowing every gesture to live and breathe within it.”

“Bartók is held in high esteem all over the world,” continues Maestro Keller, “and generally he is misunderstood with the greatest goodwill, but his music should not be considered as only exotic and Hungarian when it is primarily classical and universal.” In considering Bartók’s impact, Maestro Keller explains, “The wonder of Bartók is that, through folk music, he discovered the energies of the earth that allowed him to address the ancient, elementary side of humanity. Only a few are capable of this. The way Bartók transplanted folk music roots into the history of Western composed music is a unique phenomenon.”

Maestro Keller feels it is the orchestra’s duty to deliver the authentic Bartók experience to larger audiences. Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, for example is undoubtedly an eternal and yet easily accessible masterpiece, he says. The orchestra this fall will pay tribute to Bartók with this piece during the orchestra’s grand Asian Tour playing at Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance & Music and the 21st China Shanghai International Arts Festival. “Bartók’s universal genius makes this special East-West spiritual encounter an inspirational experience,” relates Maestro Keller.

Concerto Budapest is one of the most productive Hungarian orchestras with more than 80 concerts a year and 55 different concert programs. The orchestra is expanding its repertoire with more than 25 new pieces a year.

Concerto Budapest in 20 seconds

In a major undertaking, Concerto Budapest is recording the most significant ninth symphonies in music history in connection with the German TACET publisher. Since Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, the number nine has had a special significance for all symphony composers: Bruckner, Dvorak, Mahler or Shostakovich. These are all extremely dramatic works created late in each composer’s life. (Listen to samples from Dvorak’s Symphony No 9)

Concerto Budapest showcases more contemporary pieces than any organization in Hungary. It devised a day-long contemporary music festival, “The Day of Silence & Listening.” The festival is unique in the European musical scene and is composed of 15 concerts with 53 pieces played during a single day. The orchestra also established a chamber formation to be the attaché of contemporary music around the world, named the Ligeti Ensemble.

  Concerto Budapest Photo: Gabor Fejervari

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