KVT – Oh those Hungarians!

KVT – Oh those Hungarians!

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On the weekend they gave us a well balanced program at the Opera House with four compositions by famous Hungarian composers and one by a venerable Vietnamese. Four soloists were accompanied by the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra.

Going backwards from the totally electric finale:

… Adam Banda, a young Hungarian violinist, chose two pieces by compatriot composer Jeno Hubay (1858-1935). The Larghetto from Hubay’s Romantic Violin Concerto No2 is a very beautiful melancholic movement and is technically demanding. Banda played passionately and he made the violin sing. It was magic.

Then he really sparked us with the Carmen Fantasie Brilliante based on Bizet’s opera. This demands great technical proficiency and if we thought that Banda’s violin sang before, now it trilled and soared with intensity. By the time he’d finished the Toreador Song and March we were wide-eyed with gypsy passion. The VNSO complemented Banda beautifully.

… Before that it was the clarinet’s turn. I Really liked Trinh Hoang Hai’s playing of Hungarian composer Leo Weiner’s Perigi Werbunk. Hai is an accomplished and internationally respected clarinetist. He studied and taught it in Hungary. It’d be great to see more of him headlining the VNSO.

… A mellow cello seems the ideal instrument to evoke a mature river’s journey and Ngo Hoang Quan, principal soloist with the VNSO, gave local composer Hoang Duong’s Song of the Perfume River a sympathetic interpretation. It’s a lovely symphonic piece in six short movements with the haunting fifth a standout.


… Pianist Gabor Farkas was fireworks and spritzig on his journey through Liszt’s Hungarian Fantasia or Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Tales. An elegant, emotive, sparkling, riveting, virtuoso performance. You sat back and let the gypsy-inspired music wash over you and then as Farkas’ fingers spun over the keys you watched and listened in amazement as the piece danced headlong towards its spinning, whirling climax. A totally five star champagne performance.

… At times the VNSO felt as though it was still suffering from the after shock of Beethoven’s ninth last week. The strings were as competent as usual but the brass section seemed a little stiff during the Prelud… but that may be because my barber had cleared a big wad of wax from my ears the day before and my hearing was too acute. The bass drum boomed enthusiastically in the Prelude and again in the Fantasia but then, what’s a good Liszt without a big bang now and then!

Ong Honna led the orchestra as enthusiastically as always and it’s to his great credit that they are able to play two major concerts in one week. He never ceases to amaze me.

Not a reviewer, not a critic, “Kiếm Văn Tìm” is an interested, impartial and informed observer and connoisseur of the Hanoi art scene who offers highly opinionated remarks and is part of the long and venerable tradition of anonymous correspondents. Please add your thoughts in the comment field below.


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