The Baltic Sea Philharmonic brought its twelfth year of international touring to a close with a warmly received debut in Budapest on 19 November. Under the baton of Founding Conductor and Music Director Kristjan Järvi, the orchestra performed the 100-minute ‘Midnight Sun’ programme of music by Grieg and Stravinsky entirely from memory. Budapest-born pianist József Balog joined the orchestra as soloist in Grieg’s Piano Concerto, and the programme also included another celebrated work by Grieg – the Peer Gynt Suite No. 1. The performance climaxed with Stravinsky’s 1945 orchestral version of The Firebird, a piece which the Baltic Sea Philharmonic became the first orchestra in the world to perform completely from memory, in August 2017 on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland.
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic was proud to be performing for the first time in Hungary, a country with such a rich musical history and so many great composers, from Liszt, Bartók and Kodály to Ligeti, Kurtág and others. The musicians were also excited to be bringing a new kind of concert experience to the Budapest audience: not only did they perform the complete programme from memory, but they also played it as a single continuous ‘track’, interweaving movements of the Peer Gynt suite with movements of the Piano Concerto. The orchestra gave the enthusiastic 1,656 concert goers in the sold-out Béla Bartók Concert Hall at Müpa Budapest two special encores – the Finale from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, and an Estonian folk song, Arg Kosilane, which the musicians sung.
Next up for Kristjan and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic is an exciting new collaboration with British indie band Bastille for ‘Channel Aid – Live in Concert’ at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie on 4 January 2020. Major European tours later next year will see the orchestra perform in Poland, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Russia.