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10 top highlights not to miss at the first Bartók Spring

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  • sponsored WLB

07/05/2021 4.22pm

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be at some of the world’s most famous concert halls, from La Scala in Milan to the Royal Albert Hall? Or enjoy a concert in such attractive places in Budapest as the Epreskert, the Gellért Hotel or the Füvészkert? The Bartók Spring International Arts Weeks between 7-24 May now brings you all of these experiences and more. This multicultural events series will feature concerts broadcast from the most renowned concert halls in Europe, live films made at special Budapest locations, world music productions, premieres, and Hungarian and international stars. In addition, the broadcasts accessible via the online platform can now be enjoyed for free, from the comfort of your own home. In this selection, we present our ten favourite highlights from Bartók Spring, to keep everyone transfixed to the screen.

Photo: Bartók Tavasz

A shrine to music: Bartók at La Scala

1/10

The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, La Scala to all, is one of the most famous opera houses in the world, its name synonymous with a shrine to music. Its construction was commissioned by Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa in 1776, and from the beginning, its dimensions were staggering: the stage was 24 metres long, nearly 22 metres deep and 20 metres high, and it could accommodate 3,000 spectators. Renowned composers such as Mozart, Donizetti, Puccini and Verdi have all performed here. The storms of history have battered La Scala, but it was renovated and expanded in the early 2000s, so that audiences can enjoy stunning concerts in a larger space and with better sound quality than ever before.

For Bartók Spring, from 7.30pm on 7 May, you can enjoy a concert by the Filarmonica della Scala ensemble of the Scala Opera Orchestra, who will play a selection of works by Bartók and Stravinsky, conducted by Riccardo Chailly. It’s almost impossible to get into a performance at the Milan opera house, so we’re sure we’ll be sitting in front of our screens for this live streaming, observing details we wouldn’t be able to see live. 


ShowRiccardo Chailly & the Filarmonica della Scala 
Venue: Teatro alla Scala, Milan 
Time: 7 May, 7.30pm

Photo: Bartók Tavasz

Exciting city locations: Budapest Ritmo

2/10

After Milan, we return to Budapest, still with the aim of being close to the show while enjoying a great live performance. This time, we head to the Epreskert, the Gellért Hotel and the Füvészkert, Twentysix and Akvárium, which will host world music concerts by Budapest Ritmo between 10-12 May. Ethnobeat and urban folk will underscore the concert filmed by Hungarian directors and the performances broadcast from Akvárium, but jazz and electronica will also creep in.

The online concerts include the Dresch String Quartet, Odd ID and Mordai, performances by Tárkány Művek, the Bettika Quintet and the Cimbaliband. Each promises to be exciting, but we are especially looking forward to the performance of Odd ID, directed by Fanni Szilágyi amid the decorative foliage of Twentysix. Grooves fooled with neo-soul, electronica, psychedelia and contemporary jazz are guaranteed to turn your living room into a dance floor


Show
: Budapest Ritmo, Open Your Ears
Venue: Various locations around Budapest
Time: 10-12 May, 8pm

Photo: Bartók Tavasz

Mystical & gorgeous: GisL by Félix Lajkó & the Győr Ballet

3/10

After classical and world-music concerts, next comes a more unusual ballet performance: Győr Ballet brings a 19th-century romantic piece to life from 7pm on 13 May, accompanied by the music of Félix Lajkó. The popularity of Giselle’s mystical, beautiful and creepy story is unbroken to this day, the lead role of every ballerina’s dream.

The story focuses on the unfulfilled love between a village girl, Giselle, and a count that ends in a strange dance of death. Choreographer László Velekei has condensed the essence of the story into one act and created a performance that offers a theatrical, ballet and concert experience at the same time.

Show: Félix Lajkó & the Győr Ballet, GisL 
Venue: Müpa – Festival Theatre
Time: 13 May, 7pm

Photo: Bartók Tavasz

Art in dance: Vasarely études by the Pécs Ballet

4/10

Staying with ballet, this time the destination is Pécs and a special production by the Pécs Ballet, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. This performance has been inspired by Pécs-born Victor Vasarely, whose works are kept in the City Museum. We are very curious to see how the ballet will reflect on his colourful, vibrant and abstract op-art oeuvre, but it is sure to be a special, seen-and-never-forgotten combination.

The dance études were conceived for the stage by the company’s leading creator and award-winning choreographer, Balázs Vincze. The set and costume designs have been made by two progressive artists acclaimed in the world of theatre, costume designer Fruzsina Nagy and set designer Balázs Cziegler. The performance will take place at the Müpa Festival Theatre, from 7pm on 15 May.


Show
: Pécs Ballet premiere: Vasarely études
Venue: Müpa – Festival Theatre
Time: 15 May, 7pm

Photo: Bartók Tavasz

Ethnobeat & chanson: Aurevoir.

5/10

For 16 May, there’s a great ethnobeat concert by Aurevoir., made up of young musicians from and around Zsámbék. From the very beginning, the band has strived to break out of the strict limitations of the genre. Their music mixes the rhythms of folk music from the Carpathian Basin with the influences of the Anglo-Saxon beatfolk, but don’t be surprised if you catch the odd French café chanson, the pop sounds of the ’60s or Hungarian, Gypsy, Irish or South Slav rhythms.


Even Baroque and Renaissance musical motifs emerge among the eclectic beats, and instruments like the bass guitar, mandolin, saxophone and tango accordion create the exciting sound. If you’re wondering how a diverse cavalcade of musical styles will blow up your speakers, Take a seat for Aurevoir. at 8pm on 16 May before live streaming begins.


Show
: Aurevoir.
Venue: Müpa – Festival Theatre
Time: 16 May, 8pm

Photo: Bartók Tavasz

London calling: RPO at the Royal Albert Hall

6/10

On 17 May, you can take in another world-famous concert hall. You don’t have to step foot outside your home to be enchanted by the Royal Albert Hall, whose past performers over the last 150 years have ranged from Richard Wagner to Mariah Carey.

One of the most spectacular features in the building is the glass dome some 1,850 square metres in size, one of the largest structures of its kind in the world. The Royal Albert Hall is also unique in that its walls are dominated by a huge organ, weighing almost 150 tonnes, featuring 9,999 pipes, again one of the largest in the world – the one at Müpa has 6,804. We can admire this wonderful concert hall from 5.30 pm on 17 May, listening to the Royal Philharmonic perform pieces by Brahms, Weber and Villa-Lobos, conducted by Vasily Petrenko.


Show
: Vasily Petrenko & the Royal Philharmonic
Venue: Royal Albert Hall
Time: 17 May, 7.30pm

Photo: Bartók Tavasz

New group, two shows: Bartók by the Kelemen Quartet

7/10

On 20 and 23 May, a special concert broadcast starts up from 7.30 pm. After a break of almost three years, the famous Kelemen Quartet will take the stage with a new line-up. The ensemble returns with two new and two old members. Barnabás Kelemen and Katalin Kokas have been active in music recently, but are now planning a long-term collaboration with Greek violinist Jonian-Ilias Kadesha and English cellist Vashti Mimosa Hunter.

For Bartók Spring, the new formation presents two concerts, and they have undertaken to perform no fewer than the six string quartets from Béla Bartók’s entire oeuvre. Barnabás Kelemen is considered to be one of the most authentic Hungarian interpreters of Bartók’s works, and for whom every element of Bartók's string quartets is a treasure. Everyone is excitedly looking forward to this unique concert by the group, stepping back onto the stage after a long break.


Shows
: Kelemen Quartet 2.1 Kelemen Quartet 2.2
Venue: Budapest Music Center
Time: 20 & 23 May, 7.30pm

Photo: Bartók Tavasz

Hidden title: Mamilula by Makám

8/10

The 20 May concert by the Makám ensemble, which dates back three decades, promises to be a true all-round cultural experience, in which tradition and modernity, East and West, the collective and the individual, meet folk music of different ethnicities, jazz and contemporary music.

The ensemble was founded by Zoltán Krulik, whose repertoire paints a story spanning from the 1950s to the 21st century through song, prose and poems. Meantime, the audience is taken on a tour of the small Transdanubian village of Galla, Tatabánya, Pannonhalma, Budapest, before wandering towards Paris, Delhi, Kraków and Split. Krulik’s special world is fed by his autobiographically inspired poetry and prose editions, as well as the personalised songs of his oeuvre. And what is Mamilula? The meaning of the mysterious and secret title will be revealed in the lecture


Show
: Makám: Mamilula
Venue: Müpa – Béla Bartók National Concert Hall
Time: 20 May, 8pm

Photo: Bartók Tavasz

New songs, new times: Bagossy Brothers Company

9/10

I’m looking for certainty, I can’t go far from here, everything is swirling, full of question marks. The lyrics of the title track of Bagossy Brothers’ latest album, Fordul a világ, couldn’t be more relevant today. The band from Gyergyószentmiklós, playing indie and alternative rock with folk beats, was formed eight years ago. They have notched up many concerts, released three albums and a symphonic concert record, and their songs have topped the charts countless times.

Their fourth album, Fordul a világ, was released in February, and on the live broadcast, which starts at 8pm on 22 May, you will be able to hear songs from it, in addition to old favourites. Tickets for their concerts are usually snapped up very quickly, so it’s worth taking advantage of Bartók Spring’s free online broadcast, guaranteed to conjure up a concert atmosphere in front of your screen at home.


Show
: Bagossy Brothers Company
Venue: Müpa – Festival Theatre
Time: 22 May, 8pm

Photo: Bartók Tavasz

Special finale: Bartók evening with the Hungarian Philharmonic & Szeged Contemporary Ballet

10/10

Bartók Spring will have a worthy finale with the Bartók Evening, which starts at 7.30 pm on 24 May, featuring the composer’s major Concerto for Orchestra, performed by the Hungarian Philharmonic, conducted by Gergely Madaras. The special feature of the concert is that a performance by the Szeged Contemporary Ballet will accompany Bartók’s work. The Concerto was created in 1943, when Europe was in pieces, Bartók was struggling with illness and homesickness, and he was anxiously watching the fate of his homeland. At that time, he had not composed for three years, and received the request to write this orchestral work while in hospital. Fever, pain and bitterness are heard in the language of music, at the same time the melodies dissolve into optimism and love of life

In addition, a performance by the Szeged Contemporary Ballet will intensify and revive Bartók's masterpiece. The persona of the composer comes to life as a stage performer, the famous figures of Bluebeard, the Miraculous Mandarin and the Wooden Prince – Bartók himself – all appear. This outstanding masterwork of the 20th century will close the first Bartók Spring


Show
: An Evening of Bartók: Performance by Gergely Madaras, the Hungarian Philharmonic and the Szeged Contemporary Ballet
Venue: Müpa – Béla Bartók National Concert Hall
Time: 24 May, 7.30pm

Bartók Spring information

For a detailed schedule, see the Bartók Spring website. You may wish to listen to the festival’s entertaining music selection or visit its blog (Hungarian-only) where you can read exciting articles and interviews. You can also browse the Bartók Spring magazine (Hungarian-only).

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