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Concerto Budapest Symphony Orchestra – G Live – Review

Published on: 15 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 15 Sep, 2023

The Concerto Budapest Symphony Orchestra

By Alice Fowler

The Guildford International Concert Season brings renowned international and UK-based orchestras to our doorstep – without the need to travel to London or beyond. This week, the twelfth Concert Season kicked off at G Live, with the Concerto Budapest Symphony Orchestra playing works by Mozart, Bartok and Beethoven.

Conducted by Andras Keller, with the acclaimed French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard performing Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3, this was an evening not to miss. Not many regional stages can accommodate a full-sized orchestra, and we are lucky that G Live – with an auditorium engineered to augment sound for classical music concerts – is one of them.

The evening began with Mozart’s Symphony No. 4 in G Minor K550. The Concerto Budapest Symphony Orchestra, on tour from Hungary, offers spirited and accomplished playing. The piece’s conversation between wind and strings was beautifully rendered, with precision and flair.

Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3, composed a century and a half later in 1945, is a very different affair. Bartok was in ill health as he wrote it, battling to complete the work on his deathbed and leaving the final 17 bars unfinished. With Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s expressive playing, it’s easy to perceive notes of farewell and loss in this plaintive, moving piece.

Beethoven’s Sinfonia Eroica takes the theme of heroism. It was composed to celebrate the memory of a great man, possibly Napoleon. The result, unsurprisingly, is full of exuberance and power. Under conductor Andras Keller, playing is both carefree and precise, with moments of calm interspersed with injections of high drama.

The Guildford International Concert Season began when G Live opened in 2011 and has continued ever since (apart from one year missed due to Covid, when the venue became a vaccination centre). This year, G Live is proud to be supporting musicians from Ukraine, when the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine visits on 20 October to perform ‘Finlandia’ by Sibelius.

Future concerts, spanning this year and next, include Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and Dvorak’s New World Symphony, both performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Beethoven, explored by the English Piano Trio; and Bruch’s Violin Concerto, performed by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and featuring Guildford-based violinist, Chloe Hanslip.

Through its Concert Season this time round, G Live is also shining a light on The Cheryl King Trust, a Surrey-based charity whose mission is to ensure that no young person in Surrey should be prevented from learning a musical instrument because their parents cannot afford it.

We all need the spiritual sustenance that classical music can provide – and G Live’s wonderful concert season offers that in spades. To book, see

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