Hungary chamber festival: expect the unexpected

Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:20am EDT
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Michael Roddy

KAPOSVAR, Hungary (Reuters) - This picturesque southwestern Hungarian city, flanked by rolling hills and cornfields parched by a heat wave, is more famous for painters and playhouses than musicians, but this month it was one of the stars of the chamber music universe.

By sheer force of personality, contacts and bravado, husband-and-wife violinists Katalin Kokas and Barnabas Kelemen, who play together professionally in the Kelemen Quartet, assembled about 50 of the world's best, mostly young, chamber-oriented musicians for the third Kaposvar International Chamber Music Festival, Kaposfest (www.kaposfest.hu) for short.

"I have artists all over the world who are my friends," Kokas told Reuters. "...I told Martha (Argerich, the world-renowned Argentine piano virtuoso) that she can appear any time, we will put on an extra concert for her, but I think she was just a little lazy, not to come."

So Argerich is for the future, but this year, from August 14-20, the musical fare was heady enough.

There was Russian-born violinist Alina Ibragimova and her Finnish counterpart Pekka Kuusisto, Russian cellist Alexander Rudin, pianists Jose Gallardo of Argentina and Shai Wosner from Israel, and many more of equal caliber.

Throw in leading Hungarian pianist and conductor Zoltan Kocsis, 60, who served as an almost non-stop accompanist, plus the 90-year-old Israeli violinist and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Ivry Gitlis, and this largely agricultural city, two hours by road from Budapest, became the musical place to be.

"I really do think it's wonderful," said Wosner, 36, who was born in Israel and studied in New York where he now lives, as he devoured a plate of salmon in a cafe on his way from the morning concert to an afternoon full of rehearsals.

"The schedule is crazy, there are rehearsals every waking moment, almost, but it's really a lot of fun and it's well organised and the town is lovely."   Continued...

 
Violinist Ivry Gitlis and Pianist Jose Gallardo perform a Debussy duet during the Kaposvar International Chamber Music Festival, also known as Kaposfest, at the Szivarvany Theatre in Kaposvar August 14, 2012. This picturesque southwestern Hungarian city, flanked by rolling hills and cornfields parched by a heat wave, is more famous for painters and playhouses than musicians, but this month it was one of the stars of the chamber music universe. REUTERS/Zsolt Lefferton/Courtesy of Kaposvar International Chamber Music Festival/Handout