Tonight! Charles conducts the Hungarian National Philharmonic in two evenings featuring the complete works for piano and orchestra by Rachmaninov performed by Janos Balazs
August 18, 2020
The joint concert of the Liszt Academy and the National Philharmonic Orchestra, scheduled for August 18 and 19 in the Great Hall, will feature all of Rachmaninov's piano concertos and the virtuoso Paganini variations, with the solo performance of Kossuth Prize winner János Balázs. The guest conductor will be Charles Olivieri-Munroe of Canada.
The Liszt Academy will be the first concert venue to begin the new season, with a special mini-series organised together with the National Philharmonic Orchestra. On the first night, straddled between the Piano Concerto No. 1 in F minor and the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, the audience will hear the composer’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The programme of the second concert features the Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor and the Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, in this order.
The undertaking of Kossuth Prize-winning pianist János Balázs, unique in the world of music, will lend the series an unparalleled character. While Beethoven’s five piano concertos have been included in the repertoire of a number of solo artists, only a few pianists can claim to have performed Rachmaninov’s four similar works and all of the brilliant Paganini variations, which are also considered piano concertos. This is largely due to the fact that these technically extremely difficult and complex musical works also carry a very deep emotional content. Moreover, the complexity of the rhythm and the difficulty of the soloist and the orchestra working together also pose a challenge.
"All of Rachmaninov's recordings are worth listening to more than once because he had a unique personality”, the late Zoltán Kocsis said in an interview. Kocsis, the former chief musical director of the National Philharmonic Orchestra who considered the promotion of Rachmaninov's oeuvre a matter of his heart, has also made an outstanding recording of the entire series, which is still a benchmark of sorts.
The Franz Liszt Academy of Music is Zoltán Kocsis's alma mater; he has supported the Liszt Academy with his knowledge throughout his life, contributing to its unique musical tradition. An important message of our season-opening concert, organised jointly with the National Philharmonic Orchestra, is that the works of the Russian composer he has held in such high regard are performed by a soloist who is also a professor at our university and whose talent enables him to take over the baton, providing outstanding quality by the highest international standards", noted dr. Andrea Vigh, the rector of the Liszt Academy.
"The National Philharmonic Orchestra is happy to take part in this initiative of the Liszt Academy, thus honouring Rachmaninov and promoting his works, especially because the orchestra has already performed the works of the Russian composer, including his piano concerts, on numerous occasions", stressed Domonkos Herboly, the general manager of the orchestra.
The conductor of the two concerts, Charles Olivieri-Munroe, was born in Malta and grew up in Canada. There he studied at the renowned Royal Conservatory of Music, under the guidance of Boris Berlin, and at the University of Toronto. He has won several competitions following his graduation in 1992, and his international career took off in 2000. He is currently the artistic director and first conductor of the Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra, and takes the stage with several prestigious ensembles from season to season around the world.
The two concerts are postponed events, having been initially scheduled for May. To ensure the safety of the audience, a maximum of five hundred people can attend a concert until the end of September, which means that the Great Hall will be half-full. Wearing a mask is mandatory in the public areas of the concert venue and it is recommended in the concert hall.