Monday, January 21, 2013

The Stupendous Budapest Festival Orchestra



The Budapest Festival Orchestra was stupendous yesterday afternoon. Under the baton of its founder-conductor Iván Fischer, it rollicked through Shostakovich's "Selections from Suite for variety orchestra in eight parts" (1950), finessed Bernstein's "Serenade" (with replacement Dutch violinist Liza Ferschtman) and rendered Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 2 its fulsome due. I thought the first movement of the Rachmaninov was a little sluggish, but the rest of the symphony was played with such  emotional conviction that I fell in love with the music all over again.

I had to rush off, abandoning AH, to meet EN for dinner before the NYC launch of the journal Asymptote. We had a good soto ayam at the Noodle Bar on Orchard Street, and then walked over to the Living Theater for the launch. It was lovely to meet Yew Leong's friends, poet and translator Yu Yan Chen and contributing editor Dylan Suher. Of all the readers, I particularly enjoyed hearing Cole Swensen, her musical poems and her crystalline translations of a French writer's prose reflections on English authors such as Woolf and Keats. JI, who came to the city to attend a wedding, joined us in time to hear Swensen, and then he came home with me.

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