Szabolcs Zempléni was standing on stage with such kind naivety, that we might think that blowing a horn is not such a big deal. But it is a big deal. Especially the way he does it. The sound of his horn is caressing our ears; watching and listening are both an experience.

Szabolcs Zempléni, living up to his international fame, sounded Strauss’s old-age second horn concerto with playful lightness and with a soft, velvet sound. The classically formed opus, born in the spirit of Mozart, as for the technical difficulties honouring the composer’s excellent hornist father is a rare guest in concert halls. This present performance proves that it would be worth to put it on the programme more often.

The horn was able to show this time what it is capable of - This piece is a challenge for every virtuoso,since Strauss, as for the horn, was an insider. (…) This late work of his is extreme regarding the register as well as the technical knowledge. The introduction is followed by long stretching legato parts, which Zempléni lured out as first among the equal very melodiously, by playing chamber music with his colleagues. (…) The closing chord was almost still going on when the first bravo sounded. The brilliant Zempléni chose the „Espagna”, Vitaly Buyanovsky’s breathtaking daring piece as an encore.

In Hidas’s horn concerto the soloist, Szabolcs Zempléni was in the centre. The musician, born in 1981, solo horn of the Bamberg Symphonic Orchestra played the piece, which was finished in 1965, and did not leave a doubt about his virtuosity. The piece consisting of three movements brought surprises again and again with its sometimes exciting, sometimes cheerful moments and in its entimrety it was the highlight of the evening. The enthusiastic and ceaseless applause proved this and made the encore unforgettable.

The young Hungarian enchanted the audience – Zempléni achieved in all movements of Johann Joachim Quantz’s horn concerto with a beautifully formed, grand sound as well as with his easy breathing technique and brilliantly executed handling of the instrument and immediately carried the charmed listeners with him. The musical phrasing and elegance was just as natural for him as the shading of sounds and the rhythmical confidence.

The musicians simply enchanted me with their musical intelligence in the Ligeti interpretation. Zempléni did miraculous things, although - or because? – the piece demanded it from him anyway. Not only he formed endlessly held sounds nobly and intensively, but he became almost ecstatic from the difficulties, the broken chord leaps, the chromatic line of music, the intense, sometimes clangorous sometimes plaintive interludes, from the tone variations, the sharp staccatos. (...) Simply excellent!

Szabolcs Zempléni performed the technically rather difficult horn concerto, composed in 1942, with wonderful lightness, purely and tunefully. The audience were listening without a sound to Szabolcs’s encore, which sounded as if Bach had written solo suits for horn too

It’s wonderful how Szabolcs Zempléni, the young, Hungarian horn player on his instrument, equipped with all valves, evokes the apotheosized unworldliness of the natural horn (without valves). It is phenomenal how he forms the sounds pianissimo.

Spectacular from all aspects - Zempléni is a Hungarian soloist of the highest honour. The winner of first prize of the international ARD contest satisfied even the highest expectations from all points of view with the Camerata Salzburg Orchestra. Thus in Joseph Haydn’s horn concerto in D major we could hear clear intonation and virtuoso runs including the quavers all the way. He performed the cadence of the opening movement considerately and let each phrase prevail.

Zempléni presents in the Francaix piece and later in Hindemith’s sonata for althorn how softly he can intonate and adjust his manner of play to the required dynamic conditions at all times.Blood-sparkling joy!

Zempléni’s warm and dynamically lively horn sound prevailed in a great way in front of the articular piano part background. Paul Hindemith's horn sonata in E-flat major also benefited from this virtue. At the end of the concert in Brahms's trio the balance perfectly manifested on the one hand between the violin and the horn, on the other hand between those two and the piano. With the firmly shaped theme of the closing movement the concert of such a rising-generation artist ended, whose name we shall definitely meet again.(Nikolaus Frey, Fulda)

This year the concert took place in the Gasteig Philharmonie due to the great popularity. Szabolcs Zempléni opened this extraordinary evening with Richard Strauss’s second horn concerto, which he performed almost without taking a breath, with endless phrases, great calmness and beautiful sounding.
Kathrin Feldmann (22.09.05)