Liszt mosaics at Sadler’s Wells was an evening bringing traditional Hungarian music and dance to London. A two-part show, the first half was a concert of classical and folk music and the second a dance performance featuring the music of romantic composer Franz Liszt.
Through the course of the night, we were treated to world class music from the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra (RPCO). The musicians were virtuosic, starting the evening with an exceptional series of Hungarian dances with award-winning violinist Alexandre da Costa. Then followed a series of pieces by the RPCO, led by conductor Maestro Oleg Caetani. The two worlds collided in a collaborative number, the folk band playing harmoniously together alongside the concert orchestra: an especially delightful moment.
The second half married traditional and contemporary dance styles in an homage to Liszt and to music itself. Again the execution was impeccable, played superbly by the same musicians who performed in the first half along with pianist Marcell Szabó. While still showcasing traditional folk dancing, there were some intriguing narrative moments in the dance, and the dramaturgy of the piece stood out.
Gábor Mihályi‘s choreography, although not necessarily risky or ground-breaking, was well constructed and created heart-racing moments alongside quite cheesy, light-hearted comedy. The women did feel infantilised, often playing like children at a playground. This next to the men’s high-kicking thigh-slapping and clicking showed a power imbalance that could have been deconstructed, or at least referenced in a more interesting or nuanced way. However, the use of more contemporary dance styles and structure elevated the piece past a recital of old Hungarian dances (and values).
The Saint Ephraim Male Choir offered a stunning backdrop to the second half, singing Byzantine church music that became epic soundscapes for the dancers to inhabit.
It was a night about music, but all elements of the subtle yet cohesive design aesthetic sang from the same song sheet. Sparsely populated, using only the physical bodies and the large blocks on stage, the set felt like merely a piano at one point and a sheet of music at another. The dancers and musicians interacted with each other and the space to make strong and well-composed images.
A show of incredible music and entertaining but slightly uninspiring dance, Liszt mosaics made for an enjoyable evening all in all. It presented Hungarian folk, classical music and modern dance styles together in a joyful celebration of folk and high culture.
Choreography and Directed by: Gábor Mihály
Set and Design by: György Árvai
Lighting by: Zoltán Vida
This event was on for one evening only.