Composer: Gustav Mahler
Performer: Gerhild Romberger – alto
Orchestra: Budapest Festival Orchestra, Cantemus Children’s Choir, Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Conductor: Ivan Fischer
Number of Discs: 1 CD
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Bit Depth: 24bit / 96kHz
Number of channels: 2.0
Label: Channel Classics Records
Size: 1.86 GB
Scan: yes (PDF)
Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 3 / Ivan Fischer, Budapest Festival Orchestra
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
01. Kräftig Entschieden 33:14
02. Tempo di Menuetto, Sehr mässig 10:14
03. Comodo. Scherzando. Ohne Hast 18:31
04. Sehr langsam. Misterioso. Durchaus ppp 8:15
05. Lustig im Tempo und keck im Ausdruck 4:01
06. Langsam. Ruhevoll. Empfunden 21:31
“Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony, lasting one and a half hours or more, is not only his longest work but at the same time an exuberant and sunny ode to nature, mankind, the world and indeed life itself. And for this song of praise the composer requires both room and lavish means. No less than six movements, the richest of orchestral forces, and a contralto soloist and boys’ and women’s choirs whose sung texts help to bring across the symphony’s message, as in the Second Symphony and later in the Fourth and Eighth as well.” (From liner notes by Clemens Romijn)
Born into a musical family which includes his brother, the conductor Adam Fischer, Iván Fischer studied the piano, violin and cello at the Béla Bartók Conservatory in Budapest. Between 1971 and 1974 he was a conducting pupil of Hans Swarowsky in Vienna and also worked with Nikolaus Harnoncourt on period performance practice in Salzburg during 1975. Although he had previously been a prizewinner at the Florence Conducting Competition in 1974, Fischer’s professional conducting career was effectively launched when he won the Rupert Foundation Conducting Competition in London in 1976.
He was soon invited to direct the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London and to conduct at the Zürich Opera. In 1979 he was appointed chief conductor of the Northern Sinfonia of England, a post that he held until 1982, and the following year he founded the Budapest Festival Orchestra. This drew together many of the best orchestral musicians in Hungary and enjoyed unusually extended rehearsal periods; within a few years it developed a reputation as one of Hungary’s finest orchestras and was invited to play at major festivals and concert halls throughout Europe and America. In addition, from 1984 until 1989, Iván Fischer was chief conductor of Kent Opera, leaving only when the company’s funding was terminated by the Arts Council of England and it had to cease operations.
From 1989 to 1996 Fischer was principal guest conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and from 2000 to 2003 the chief conductor of the Lyons Opera. Alongside his permanent appointments he has been a frequent guest conductor of many major orchestras, such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, and Israel Philharmonic, as well as the Orchestre de Paris, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. He has conducted opera in London, Paris, Brussels, Zürich, Frankfurt and Budapest as well as a series of Mozart productions with the Vienna State Opera. He received the Kossuth Prize, Hungary’s leading arts award, in 2006, the same year in which he was appointed principal guest conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington and a principal artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
In 1995, the Budapest Festival Orchestra signed an exclusive recording contract with Philips/Universal, which resulted in recordings of several of the major stage and orchestral works of Bartók as well as of music by Kodály, Liszt and Dvořák. Fischer has stated that he feels especially close to central European composers such as Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Dvořák, Mahler and Bartók, and his connection with several of these stretches beyond the concert hall: together with the composer’s granddaughter, he was a founder of the Hungarian Mahler Society and he is the patron of the British Kodály Academy. Among the best of the numerous recordings which he has made with the Budapest Festival Orchestra are dynamic accounts of Bartók’s ballet scores The Wooden Prince and The Miraculous Mandarin, Liszt’s Faust Symphony, and Kodály’s Háry János Suite and Dances of Galánta. The orchestra’s recording of Brahms’s Hungarian Dances included a number of new orchestrations by Fischer himself.
Budapest Festival Orchestra
In less than 30 years the Budapest Festival Orchestra – founded in 1983 by Iván Fischer and Zoltán Kocsis – has established itself as one of the ten leading orchestras of the world. It is loved by audiences and praised by international critics for its intensive and emotionally gripping performances, for its chamber music-like attention to detail and for its exceptional ability to share the joy of music with listeners. Although the BFO regularly appears in the world’s most important music venues, the orchestra’s activities are based around a highly popular series of concerts in Hungary with more than 40 orchestral performances in Budapest and regular visits to other Hungarian towns and cities.
The BFO is the strategic partner of the Palace of Arts in Budapest; together they organise the Budapest Mahlerfest (launched by Iván Fischer in 2005) every September, the single-composer “marathon” with eleven concerts each February, and a staged opera production directed and conducted by Iván Fischer. The latest opera production, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, was enthusiastically received at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York.
Music director Iván Fischer has introduced a number of innovative initiatives. Besides the orchestral concerts and a chamber-music series the orchestra hosts a baroque ensemble playing on original instruments, and a contemporary ensemble performing new music. Orchestra members chosen in the biannual Sándor Végh competition perform concertos as soloists in the Haydn-Mozart Plus concerts conducted by the BFO’s new Principal Guest Conductor, Gábor Takács-Nagy.
The BFO lays a strong emphasis on educational activities. The very successful Cocoa Concerts are designed for small children, while the Midnight concerts attract older teenagers and those in their early twenties. The BFO collaborates with the network of Hungarian Music Schools in regular talent searches, and streams its orchestra rehearsals on the internet for educational purposes.
Numerous outstanding artists like Sir Georg Solti (the orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor until he passed away), Yehudi Menuhin, Pinchas Zukerman, Gidon Kremer, Radu Lupu, Sándor Végh, András Schiff and Richard Goode have all performed with the BFO in recent decades.
The Budapest Festival Orchestra is an independent foundation set up in 1992. The activities of the BFO are supported by the Hungarian Ministry of National Resources and the Budapest City Council. Iván Fischer has been the orchestra’s Music Director in the 29 years since it was founded.
BBC Music Magazine
As vivid a performance as one would expect. That stylishly lazy trombone, a dying monster, is emblematic of the characteristic licence the conductor gives to his splendid Budapest players…the flowers of the field and the beasts of the forest have never been more vividly characterised, while Nietzsche’s midnight ode is graced by the contralto of choice for Mahler symphonies, Gerhild Romberger…always alive, always interesting, vivid in sound
Every player seems to have thought about his part afresh and emotional power grows out of countless small moments, not the usual grandstanding. Some may find the performance too calculated. Others will admire its restraint, its eloquence, its distinctive voice.
Here for once is a Mahler symphony release that feels different from the outset…I doubt whether there has ever been a more precisely focused, more sheerly beautiful recording of any Mahler work…Reluctant to parade its roughest edges and disinclined to hurry, Fischer instead elicits a range of pristine, jewel-like colour that leaves its fabric refreshed…This Third is a must-have.
[Fischer] is a challenge, inviting listeners to rethink and recalibrate their responses to the piece. Not everyone will be prepared to make the leap, but those who do will be handsomely rewarded. Without question, the finest instalment in Fischer’s Mahler cycle to date; and what breathtaking sound.
Fischer’s unique orchestra always presents music afresh. Never has the clarity of the orchestral textures shone more vividly. Maybe a fractionally slower tempo would have made the first movement’s climax more overwhelming — but along the way, what delights, what insights.
“Like a sound of nature. That’s the description that Mahler wrote above an oboe’s cry in his epic Third Symphony from the 1890s. And it’s a tag that Ivan Fischer has clearly taken to heart in this most eloquent and immersive performance…cuckoos, nightingales and birds galore; furry forest creatures; the anxiety call of the contrabassoon: they’re spotted all over the bulk of this massive hymn to life in all forms. I’ve never heard a performance that captures nature’s canvas so well
New York Times
Every moment of this recording is fresh and insightful, traits we have now come to expect from Mr Fischer. But it is the finale, Mahler’s ode to love, that pulls at the memory — a miracle of phrasing; a quiet wonder of string tone and balance; a paean to a devotion tender, fragile and deep.
Fischer isn’t afraid to let go in the music’s wilder episodes…Mostly importantly, [he] conducts with a plasticity of line, a natural rubato, that maximizes expressivity without excess sentimentality.
The Arts Desk
What a finale: Fischer’s flowing speeds avoiding any hint of bombast, the final cadence unforced and radiant. Everyone needs multiple recordings of this symphony. Add this new one to the pile.
If you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have then you’ll need no encouraging to head for the second disc