The French temperament does not heat up in a matter of minutes, as the Hungarian does. There is no enthusiastic clapping, applause comes only from simple politeness. However, at the National Philharmonic Orchestra's Paris concert, the ice was nevertheless broken. Zoltán Kocsis' Liszt playing was greeted by applause and cries that showed no signs of dying down. True, the E flat major piano concerto is one of the most popular Hungarian works. In Kocsis's playing – who at the same time conducted the orchestra – each note and keyboard gesture had its own 'aura' and the same intensive concentration. Refinement, when needed, depth when required, playfulness. There was no shortage of cheers.
In the matter of repertoire, it is as if the orchestra had amalgamated Hungarian art with European, or more precisely, with the universal. Beethoven's St Stephen's Overture was followed by Bartók's Concerto, that was given a deeply moving but at the same time, momentous account. The 1600 capacity audience in the Elegant Parisian six storey concert hall of the Théatre des Champs-Élyséees, rewarded it with a terrific ovation. As an encore – showing sensitivity with its gestures aimed towards the French, we heard a transcription from Ravel's Tombeau do Couperin and then Brahms' Eighth Hungarian Dance. Finally, we heard that almost obligatory Hungarian emblem for our orchestras abroad, the Rákóczi march, part of a larger work by Berlioz [The Damnation of Faust] that has not claimed its independence.
(Magyar Nemzet, December 12th 2001.)