It seems that CLEMENS HAGEN always comes to Hungary because of Shostakovich
(…) This time, accepting an invitation from the NATIONAL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA, he again chose Shostakovich. (…) Absolutely impeccable technique, and in addition to the supreme control of the entire gamut of colours and dynamic gradations, steady stamina. As for the musical reading, under Clemens Hagen's bow, the unique character and sound world of the composition unfolded intact, from the crisp rhythm of the spiteful-grotesque marches, to the heart-wrenching recitative of lonely lament melodies. We heard a performance of great power, rich in feeling, in which we again had the sense of what was missing from our last encounter two years ago: Clemens Hagen's playing was again not characterised by spontaneity. Instead, conscious deliberation and the balance of effective elements prevailed.
ZOLTÁN KOCSIS framed the 20th century concerto in this Slavic program with orchestral works produced by Czech and Russian romanticism. Just how the National Philharmonic has developed into such a superb ensemble under Kocsis's guidance was acutely illustrated by the Dvořák work which opened the concert, The Wild Dove. This rarely performed symphonic poem is one of the composer's darker essays: a superb performance is required for the audience to notice its qualities. Let me remind you of the last Hungarian performance of The Wild Dove (Slovák Philharmonic Orchestra, Leif Segerstam, September 16th 2000, Music Academy) when made it appear as embarrassingly boring and empty music with a very loose form. Kocsis breathed life into the work: under his baton, we witnessed a precise and thoughtfully detailed interpretation which throughout was weighty and awash with colour, serving to show us the Dvořák symphonic poem to its best advantage.
After the break, we heard a single composition: Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony, in a grand, Romantic “broad-canvassed” performance that suited the work's form and system of gestures (I was unfortunately unable to be present in the second half of the concert and my report is based on a recording.) In Kocsis's reading, the opening movement was characterised by drama and tragedy, with a full sonority, weighty melodies and sharp accents depicting the character of the Byronic hero; in the Scherzo which presents the Alpine fairy, the woodwind's virtuosic, momentous playing attracted attention – in the trio, this was supplemented by the flexible melodic performance of the strings. In the Pastorale which illustrates the life of the mountain dwellers, gracefulness and soft colours prevailed. However, the shaping of the finale which evokes the final confrontation emphatically revealed the Lisztian roots of this program symphony's compositional procedure and atmosphere. (April 7th – Music Academy)
(June 2002 Muzsika)