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Beethoven in Budapest

The MÁV Symphony Orchestra with Zoltán Kocsis
reviewed by KAREN HAID


Arts organizations often have to seek support in unusual places. A prime example is Budapest's MÁV Symphony Orchestra, an interesting coupling of transportation and culture. In translation, the acronym stands for Hungarian State Railway. Yes, railway, not radio.

Apparently however, the state train system is currently experiencing financial difficulties. The opening concert of its series on 5 October 2007 in Budapest's beautiful art nouveau Academy of Music began with an unreasonably lengthy speech outlining its problems and forecasting the necessary firing of several musicians. Just who those players would be wasn't mentioned, but one could safely assume that it wouldn't be either of the two receiving awards that evening. As voted by the orchestra members, the 'best musician' was given to the concert mistress and the 'best team player' to a young woman at the back of the second violins.

When the conductor Gábor Takás-Nagy finally entered the stage, he too went to the microphone; however, he just gave a brief statement regarding the fact that he had broken his wrist ten days earlier. (A train accident, perhaps?) This injury didn't seem to inhibit his energetic movement on the podium, although the small cast gave his right wrist a bit of an awkward turn.

The all-Beethoven program opened with a solid performance of the Coriolanus Overture. Unfortunately, the most memorable 'music' came during the closing bars, when the opening theme from Mozart's 40th symphony seemed to overtake that of Beethoven. Clearly a classical music lover, the cell phone's owner allowed his mobile to ring until it was finally drowned out by the applause.

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Copyright © 13 October 2007 Karen Haid, Las Vegas, USA


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