István Várdai is highly regarded for his joyous energy, rhythmic vigour and elegant grace in his soulful renditions of solo, chamber music and orchestral repertoire for cello. In his third season as Artistic Director of Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, he continues to present inspiring and creative programmes. Alongside this, István welcomes world-renowned musicians at the Kapostfest Chamber Music Festival in Hungary, which he co-curates with violinist Kristóf Baráti, and continues his soloist career with leading orchestras performing repertoire from Bach to Péter Eötvös.
In 2022/23 István Várdai plays with Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra under Modestas Pitrėnas, Orchestre National du Capitole Toulouse under Domingo Hindoyan, Hungarian National Philharmonic and Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava under Lawrence Foster, as well as Liechstenstein and Bournemouth symphony orchestras. Past seasons’ highlights include engagements with Orchestre national d’Île-de-France with Case Scaglione, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra with Mark Wigglesworth, the Hallé with Jamie Phillipsand Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra with Susanna Mälkki.
István Várdai and Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra welcome violonists Akiko Suwanai, Liza Ferschtman, Luosha Fang, Júlia Pusker, pianists Gábor Farkas, Benjamin Grosvenor and the flautist Emmanuel Pahud in Budapest for FLCO’s series at the Grand Hall of the Liszt Academy.
As a passionate chamber musician, he has performed István Várdai has played with Víkingur Ólafsson, András Schiff, Yuri Bashmet, Gidon Kremer, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Mischa Maisky, Elisabeth Leonskaja and Liza Ferschtman at some of the world’s leading venues.
Over the years, István Várdai’s has recorded Janáček, Prokofiev and Elgar’s cello concertos on Ysaÿe Records, pieces by Mendelssohn, Martinů, Paganini, Beethoven and Popper on Hännsler label, Tchaïkovsky’s Rococo Variations in both versions and Bach’s solo cello suites on Brilliant Classics, Singing Cello and Dancing Cello on Hungaroton label that features famous encores and a compilation of popular cello pieces of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Following success on the competitions circuit, including first prizes at the 2014 ARD International Music Competition and at the 2008 Geneva International Music Competition, István Várdai served on the jury of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2019. He has been teaching at University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna where he succeeded the late Heinrich Schiff in the role, and where he himself studied in 2005. István Várdai plays on ‘Ex du Pré-Harrell’ Stradivari made in 1673, previously played by Jacqueline du Pré.