History of Classicus Ensemble
Zoltán Fejérvári and János Palojtay (piano), Péter Tornyai (violin/viola) and Tamás Zétényi (cello) started playing chamber music together as students of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. In addition to their studies at the Academy, they have held fellowships at universities like Mozarteum in Salzburg, Escuela Superior in Madrid, Universitaet der Künste in Berlin, and Bard College in New York State. They have played at major festivals in Hungary and abroad, and have performed together and on their own at prestigious venues.
The somewhat unusual combination of instruments shows that this group wasn’t ‘put together’, instead it has developed gradually throughout the years, as we have shared most of our teachers (especially in chamber music); some of us have played together at different concerts and festivals. For our concerts we regularly invite guest artists. We played our first concert as Classicus Ensamble in late 2009 at the Academy of Music. Since then we have given many concerts in Hungary and abroad, including a live broadcast on the Hungarian National Radio and a series of concerts in New York.
Central European University
We are very excited about our artist-in-residence project at the Central European University in Budapest, whose special hybrid nature of representing both the US, Europe and Hungary fits well into our scheme of bringing an American term, ‘artist-in-residence‘, to Europe, whose culture we are rooted in, and Hungary is where we were born, educated, and plan to center our musicial activities.
More on our program at CEU here.
A concert with compositions by Smetana, Janáček and Dvořák: it is something one would not miss by any means. The music of these three composers perfectly expresses the exceptional quality made up of sentimentality and humour, joviality and nostalgy, as well as folksiness that could be called Bohemian spirit in music. Of course, it also matters who is the performer. Among Hungarian artists, Smetana has an advocate like András Schiff, who made a revelative recording of the enchanting Polkas, Janáček has advocates like Schiff, Gábor Csalog and Dénes Várjon, and Dvořák has advocates like Iván Fischer and Zoltán Kocsis. On March 16, Classicus Ensemble also joined them as partners of the same rank.
Who are they? Not so much an ensemble as a chamber music studio. They could hardly be an ensemble, as theirs is a peculiar combination of instruments consisting of two pianos, a violin and a cello. Zoltán Fejérvári, János Palojtay (piano), Péter Tornyai (violin) and Tamás Zétényi (cello) have not made an alliance with the intention of playing together at all of their concerts; these musicians of similar backgrounds and similar quality, aiming at similar standards, have been brought together by friendship and the love of chamber music. At their concerts, they perform – with guest artists – pieces involving different combinations and different numbers of instruments. The guest artist of the Smetana–Janáček–Dvořák concert was the violinist Oszkár Varga. Thus Classicus Ensemble is characterized by openness – both in the theoretical and in the practical sense of the word. They have the same kind of loose structure and variable composition that is also typical of UMZE, led by Zoltán Rácz, and Qaartsiluni Ensemble, established by Lajos Rozmán, in Hungarian musical progressivism.
(Kristóf Csengery, Élet és Irodalom, 2014. március 21.)