Budapest Festival Orchestra Cultural Centre Final performance The orchestra played with gusto under its musical director, Ivan Fischer, on Saturday, finishing their Hong Kong trip with a second concert last night. Though the Budapest Festival Orchestra is one of Europe's younger and less moneyed symphonies (all its performers are, in fact, freelancers), this concert was one of the most impressive in recent months. And what it lacked in ultimate polish (if one were to nit-pick, some crescendos reached the loud end too soon), it succeeded due to Fischer's passionate vision. This world-renowned conductor proved himself as one of the great Hungarian conducting maestros, with the drama, intensity, strength and sense of purpose he invoked from his assembled performers. Characteristically, the lower strings were placed with the winds centre stage and flanked by the violins - an unusual set-up for an orchestra. This helped create a strong pulsating bass while the two violin sections were often heard in effective dialogues across the stage. Ravel's La Valse opened the concert - a fierce rendering, as if the 1855 Viennese ball that the composer intended to evoke turned into a hellish party. Schumann's Cello Concerto followed, with Mischa Maisky as soloist. Maisky is one of the world's top cellists and his romantic style is well suited to Schumann's music. His performance was lyrical, passionate and attentive to details while keeping a chamber music-like rapport with Fischer's agile accompaniment. Maisky later encored with Bach's Suites for Solo Cello, played with his emotive style. The concert proper ended with an epic performance of Beethoven's Symphony No 4. Every accented note was unleashed like a thunderbolt. The audience was in raptures after the finale and Fischer encored with two of Brahms' Hungarian Dances (he even announced the works smilingly in broken Cantonese), which the orchestra performed with customary liveliness.