The 2016-2017 season holds a co-incidential importance of exceptional proportions in Hungarian music. Almost all of our seminal composers have round anniversaries: Kodály left us 50 years ago, Liszt died 120 years ago, while also celebrates his 205th Birthday, Kurtág is turning 90, Dohnányi 140, and Bartók is exactly 135 years old. Isn’t this something that calls for a big celebration of Magyar Music? I have decided to focus on my compatriots’ compositions this season, both with my cherished Hungarian orchestra, the Savaria Symphony, as well as on the road as a guest-conductor.
Two of these composers piqued my interest in particular: Zoltán Kodály and Ernő Dohnányi. Both of them were geniuses of their times, and have shaped the world around them with their enduring compositions and influential musical activities. Yet, they don’t quite receive as much international attention as they should. I decided to show the world what fabulous creators and innovative minds they were, and incorporated one of their works into most of my programmes. During these two anniversary years I am conducting the 1st Symphony, 1st Violin Concerto, Symphonic Minutes, Ruralia Hungarica, Konzertstück and the Variations on a Nursery Tune by Dohnányi, as well as the Concerto, Galánta Dances, Hungarian Rondo, Marosszék Dances, Summer Evening, Budavár Te Deum, Psalmus Hungaricus and fragments from Háry János by Zoltán Kodály. In 2016/17 I will also perform several Béla Bartók masterpieces, including his Piano Concerto Nr 2, Violin Concerto Nr 2, The Miraculous Mandarin Suite, Two Images and Hungarian Sketches. By Franz Liszt, I will be performing Les Préludes, Totentanz and Rhapsodie Espagnole.
The Hungarian thematic provided the underlying motiff when I was programming a recording session with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, as well as a lunchtime concert with the Ulster Orchestra in January 2017. The most notable Magyar highlight is surely our concert with the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus on the evening of Kodály’s 50th death anniversary, that receives widespread public and media attention.
To complement this bedrock of Hungarian repertoire, I have chosen another nation whose music is strongly based on the folklore of its native culture: Russia. Perhaps due to my Grandmother’s Russian origins, I feel particularly close to the country’s culture and traditions. Highlights of my season are Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, that I will be conducting with excellent orchestras such as the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, as well as Borodin’s 2nd Symphony, that I have the pleasure of conducting at my debuts with both the Hallé Orchestra and the Warsaw National Philharmonic. Last but not least, I will close the season with Petroushka by Stravinsky, together with the Savaria Symphony Orchestra.
With my beloved Orchestre Dijon Bourgogne I will not just complete the Schumann Symphonies Cycle that we started last year, but I will also focus on oratorio and choral masterpieces such as the Creation by Haydn, the Requiem by Fauré, Schicksalslied by Brahms and Nocturnes by Debussy. Speaking of oratorios, this season also marks my first Requiem by Verdi with the Savaria Symphony and the Hungarian National Philharmonic Choir.
Contemporary music, as usual, will have an important role in my programming: I will make my debut with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France at the IRCAM Festival with a full new music programme by Harvey, Posadas and Vivier, and also return to work with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, featuring works by Eötvös, Gubaidulina and Mason. Another full contemporary program marks my return this year to the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, with works by Hillborg, Dragony, Madarász and Posadas.
In the opera pit, I am returning for performances of Verdi‘s La Traviata at the Hungarian State Opera.
Similar to past seasons, I find it extremely important to work with young professionals and music academy students, aiming to pursue a musical career. Having finished my studies not so long ago but already gaining widespread professional experience, I believe I’m in a unique position to communicate with this generation. I feel passionate about helping them with the practical and artistic issues they are going through at this very delicate time of their education, having tackled similar challenges and questions not so long ago. This season I am invited to conduct young musicians, who are in three very different career stages: the European Philharmonic of Switzerland (a pool of international young professionals, already working in top orchestras worldwide), the Chamber Orchestra of the Royal Northern College of Music (one of the flagship ensembles of Manchester’s music academy, with graduate and undergraduate players), as well as the Junior Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra in London, that is one of the prime institutions worldwide for training young musicians between the age of 14-18.
Just select Concerts on the main menu, to see all the details and dates. I’m very much looking forward to seeing you at many of these occasions!