As Orchestra in Residence in Bonn, the Budapest Festival Orchestra - rated by international music critics as one of the world's 10 best - gave three electrifying performances with its principal conductor, Iván Fischer.
Fond of the music he heard from gypsy musicians in Hungary, Franz Liszt wrote his "Hungarian Rhapsodies" as a tribute to their art.
Conductor Iván Fischer took that concept a step further: "To take this music back to its sources, we perform it with a cimbalom. We invited a genuine gypsy musician in Hungary who still occasionally plays at restaurants but also in concert halls. He will add a few cadenzas: If Liszt were at the piano, I'm sure he would do the same," he told DW.
Our featured cimbalom artist is Oszkár Ökrös, also a soloist with the Budapest Gypsy Orchestra. A trapezoid-shaped kind of dulcimer from Hungary, his instrument stands on legs and is played with mallets.
"A joy to those who appreciate humor, an annoyance to those who don't," is the inscription on the score to Ernö Dohnanyi's "Variations on a Children's Song for piano and orchestra." A parody of various musical styles in 11 whimsical variations, Iván Fischer describes it as "a highly entertaining, fantastically written piano concerto which should make you smile."
Which children's song? There's hardly a listener on the planet who will not recognize it.
Also a composer, Iván Fischer had several of his own works performed during his residency in Bonn too. One of them is about "Wanderlust," the longing for far-off places, and incorporates the "shudh sarang," an Indian raga. Thus the name: "Shudh Sarang Sextet (Wanderlust)."
Hungarian Rhapsody No. 5 (version for cimbalom and orchestra)
Variations on a Children's Song for piano and orchestra, op. 25
Three Hungarian Folk Songs
Oszkár Ökrös, cymbalom
Dénes Várjon, piano
Budapest Festival Orchestra
Iván Fischer, conductor
Recorded by Deutsche Welle, Bonn (DW) in the Beethoven Hall, Bonn on September 19, 2015
Shudh Sarang Sextet (Wanderlust) for two violins, viola, cello, double bass and Indian tabla (2011)
Recorded by Deutsche Welle, Bonn (DW) in the Beethoven Hall, Bonn on September 20, 2015