There was as much enthusiasm on stage as in the audience yesterday afternoon as the Franz Liszt Orchestra had its exciting Kennedy Center debut in the Concert Hall.
The string group boasts the rhythmic flexibility of the smallest of ensembles, as well as the synchronized bowing and lushness associated with the larger orchestras. They seemed almost to breathe together with the music, a furtive glance from director Janos Rolla being as effective as a conductor's baton. And most importantly, they looked as if they were having a ball.
Purcell's dramatic Suite in D Minor, immortalized for many by Jose Limon's "The Moor's Pavane," opened the concert with swells of sound and lush playing that belied its period. Following a rushed Mozart Divertimento in F Major, the orchestra launched into Bach's Concerto in D Minor for two violins. It was one of the most exciting Bach performances heard here in quite some time. There were no mannerisms, no precious touches, just fluid virtuosity from violinists Rolla and Kalman Kostyal.
There was classical elegance in Mendelssohn's little Symphony No. 10 in B minor, and even Bartok's perversely titled Divertimento for Strings was almost saved by Rolla's passionate solo in the allegro final movement