My 2023/2024 season started with two orchestral concerts with the Magyar Rádió Művészeti Együttesei: on 20th September in the Grand Hall at the Zeneakadémia, conducting Verdi’s “Quattro pezzi sacri” and “Harold en Italie” by Berlioz, and then on 1st October when the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall at the Müpa hosted our performance of the Brahms “Academic Festival Overture”, the Schumann “Piano Concerto in A minor” and the Tchaikovsky “Symphony no. 6 in B minor (Pathétique)”.
So this, my second season as Chief Conductor of the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, has got off to a good start. My musicians and I are getting to know each other well, and I appreciate their individual strengths and characteristics. We’re working together to develop the orchestra’s overall level and ability to listen and, above all, to achieve affinity in terms of communication between my gestural language, my way of making music, and their reaction. And I’d say that we’ve done a good job so far. Thanks to this mutual understanding, at which every one of us without exception is working, I’ve been able to focus on an extremely challenging repertoire. I’m referring to Tchaikovsky’s sixth symphony (which our orchestra hadn’t performed for almost thirty years, meaning that the younger musicians had never played it in concert) but also the Schumann piano concerto, works which allow the orchestra to measure itself against performances by other top class orchestras.
I think the time had come to extend our repertoire. Our orchestra’s sound and its technical and expressive characteristics are of high quality, and we need to highlight this by making bold programme choices, because we’re scheduled to play in new, important capital cities (after our 2024 tours to London and Vienna) and at the HNSO we want our qualities to receive international recognition. This is one of the reasons why we so much wanted South Korean pianist Yunchan Lim for the Schumann concerto: he’s not yet twenty years old and is already an emerging international piano prodigy after creating a sensation by winning the Van Cliburn prize. We’re delighted that he agreed to play here in Budapest, since his schedule already includes orchestras like the New York Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony. We were carried away by Lim, whose exceptional technique and musicality captivated the Budapest audience. This is just what we need: great programmes and guest artists with whom we can exchange top class emotions and experiences.