by FoM BUDAPEST, Hungary - During my recent travels in Austria and Budpest, among the composers whose steps I traced was Joseph Haydn. On my second day in Vienna, I visited the home Haydn lived in during the last years of hise life, where he composed both The Creation and The Seasons, among other masterpieces. And, on my way from Vienna to Budapest, I visited Eisentadt, where he lived for 30 years while working for the Esterhazy family.
Upon arriving in Budapest on New Year's Day, I made my way via tram down to the ultra-modern Béla Bartók National Concert Hall south of the city center, where Ádám Fischer, in what has become a local New Year's Day tradition, led a performance of Haydn's The Creation. Each year since 2008, Fischer - Ivan's older brother and one of the world's leading Haydn conductors - has invited a guest orchestra and chorus to perform Haydn's oratario, which he feels is the perfect way to usher in the new year. According to the program notes: "We desire that someone shows us the beauty of the world once again, and instill in us the feeling that it is good to live on this earth."
This year, Fischer invited the Zurich-based period instrument ensemble Orchestra La Scintilla and the Dresden Chamber Chorus, along with a capable - if unknown - cast of soloists. Best among them was the German baritone Thomas Bauer, who injected his performance with passion and charisma.
Fischer, who led the entire 2 1/2 hour performance without a score, was clearly enthralled with the experience - particularly the miraculous choruses, which were delivered crisply and with deep conviction. And, though the 1700-seat concert hall felt cavernous (at least from my seat in the upper ring), the combined ensemble had no problem filling the space with sound.
The capacity crowd showed their appreciation with rhythmic applause, both before the intermission and at the conclusion. The Creation may have been written in Vienna, but the Hungarians clearly claim Haydn as one of their own. As do we all.More pics on the photo page.