In the wake of Firsts and Lasts and then Turning Point, a new and most apt title, similarly lifted from literature, Magic Mountain, now adorns the headline of the kamara.hu programmes. Many parallels could be drawn between the Thomas Mann novel and the Liszt Academy’s long-established autumn chamber music festival. Kamara.hu has two characteristics of outstanding importance. One is that every featured artist belongs among the select group of friends of the host couple, not to mention that they are all – without any exaggeration – ranked as some of the finest musicians of our day, who individually or together regularly take to the stage of the leading concert halls of the world. The other hallmark is the programme, fashioned with similar precision. While the Firsts and Lasts (and onlys) title is easy to associate with the oeuvres of composers, and Turning Point also clearly marked out certain works, Magic Mountain is far less specific. Here, Izabella Simon and Dénes Várjon took a twin approach. On the one hand, they sought a literary hook to the music (as they highlight the importance of the harmony of the fellow arts through complementary programmes), and on the other hand they were looking for a concept that would in itself spark a whole variety of associations. Without a doubt, a similarity can be discovered between the power of the original Magic Mountain and kamara.hu to snatch one away from reality and problems; the festival is there for those aiming to relax and improve the mind in an oasis of tranquillity. Just as in the novel, here, too, there are complete philosophical systems to be discovered for those who arrive at the Liszt Academy with open ears and open hearts. What is more, in a metaphorical sense kamara.hu is also a ‘mountain’ in that it represents the peak of artistic standard, one guaranteed to enchant all who ascend its slopes.
The programmes of this year’s concerts are forged into units by the magic mountain as a concept: magic, fairy tale, fantasy, ballad, the narration that links the works of each programme. Every concert is a story in which there are contrasts, but these contrasts form an integral part of the whole. This is how Ligeti can end up between Brahms and Schubert, Schönberg is placed alongside Mahler, a Frenchman, a Pole, a Moravian and an Austrian come one after the other, and the list of unconventionalities could be continued. There are composers with close connections such as Bach and Busoni, or Brahms and Schumann, and as a generality one can say that the parts before and after the intermission always form a coherent block. We will come across fairy-tale figures such as the love-struck poet, the spirit, the wandering lad, the elf king, or even death and the maiden, while in genre terms there is everything from free fantasy to strictly regulated fugues. The tale will be the central theme of the literary discussion as well, to which Izabella Simon and Dénes Várjon have invited Ildikó Boldizsár, author and researcher of fairy tales. Meanwhile, kids can glimpse the musical world of Cinderella on 18 November. To sum up, this storybook, that is, the festival, promises everyone pleasant adventures, so it is certainly worth listening to, particularly this year’s collection, because one rarely comes across such storytellers and stories as these.