This fine recording of Dvorák's Cello Concerto by Dutch cellist Pieter Wispelwey with Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer leading the Budapest Festival Orchestra is as generous, honest, and compelling as the music itself. Wispelwey has a rich, ringing tone that can ride over orchestral tutti fortes yet still sound fully present in intimate pianissimos. He also has an elegant technique that can accomplish anything the work asks without calling undue attention to itself. These qualities allow him to lean into the work's powerful drama and aching lyricism without dividing his attention. The commanding Fischer leads the rich-toned Budapest Festival Orchestra in an accompaniment as musically interesting and dramatically significant as the solo part.
Fischer’s performance of the Sixth is quite similar to Abbado’s recent live recording for DG. Textures are generally light and transparent, with a swift opening march that, by the same token, never sounds unduly rushed or trivialized. The andante comes second, not the best option in my view, but Fischer has the intelligence to treat it as a true andante, and not as an adagio (which is a more legitimate possibility when it’s placed third). However, in contrast to Abbado’s boring Berliners, Fischer’s orchestra plays better, and he’s much better recorded. Just listen to the characterful brass in the coda of the first movement, with a particularly fine first trumpet, or the splendid woodwinds in the trios of the scherzo. The emphasis on fleetness never compromises expressivity, as happens in Berlin.
This is Ivan Fischer’s second Mahler symphony for Channel Classics with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, his first being the Sixth recorded in February 2005. His opening to this Resurrection symphony, its hero’s Funeral Rites, is disciplined with touches of brusqueness in the brass. But as this is supposed to ask ‘Why did you live?’ I’m very aware of Fischer’s empathy for the visionary aspects of the movement, as if to answer ‘To experience all that’s lovely’.
After the highly acclaimed recordings of Mahler Symphonies no. 1, 2, 4 and 6 Iván Fischer and his Budapest Festival Orchestra now recorded the Fifth Sympony with its famous Adagietto in F major for strings and harp - one of the most intimate pieces that Mahler ever wrote for the orchestra.
Ivan Fischer’s latest Budapest Festival bull’s-eye realizes the full breadth of Liszt’s vision, focusing to near-perfection Faust’s anguish, and the cynical thematic transformations that keep Mephistopheles alive and kicking. It is, above all, a profoundly authentic – or should I say authentically ‘lived’ – production, consistently animated, vividly recorded and with heavily scored tutti passages granted maximum impact…
For me, Fischer’s Faust Symphony is a clear front runner – more spontaneous than Rattle’s, more agile than Bernstein’s and better focused than Sinopoli’s. - Reviewed: Gramophone 4/1998
Composer: Béla Bartók
Conductor: Iván Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble: Budapest Festival Orchestra, Slovak Folk Ensemble Chorus, Hungarian Radio Chorus
I haven't enjoyed a set of performances of the Hungarian Dances so much since I played them with the local youth orchestra at the age of 14. In a way, Ivan Fischer's version of these ever-popular classics is as valid an essay in stylistic restoration as the most scholarly period-instrument performance of Bach or Handel. - S.J. Gramophone, March 1987.
Ivan Fischer’s latest Budapest Festival bull’s-eye realizes the full breadth of Liszt’s vision, focusing to near-perfection Faust’s anguish (starting with the Allegro impetuoso at 2'28''), Gretchen’s tender modulations (try from 3'38'' on track 2) and the cynical thematic transformations that keep Mephistopheles alive and kicking. It is, above all, a profoundly authentic – or should I say authentically ‘lived’ – production, consistently animated (lightning shifts from piano to forte and back again are meticulously gauged), vividly recorded (note the tuba’s presence at 3'06'' into track 1) and with heavily scored tutti passages granted maximum impact…
For me, Fischer’s Faust Symphony is a clear front runner – more spontaneous than Rattle’s, more agile than Bernstein’s and better focused than Sinopoli’s.
Reviewed: Gramophone 4/1998