Magazine article Gramophone

Fischer's Budapest Mahler Cycle Reaches the Pivotal Fifth

Magazine article Gramophone

Fischer's Budapest Mahler Cycle Reaches the Pivotal Fifth

Article excerpt


Symphony No 5

Budapest Festival Orchestra / Ivan Fischer

Channel Classics [F] [DVD]. CCSSA34213 (74' * DDD/DSD)

Mahler once said that conductors would take the central Scherzo of the Fifth Symphony the fulcrum of the piece--too fast and Fischer, like Barbirolli in his famous Philharmonia recording, seems intent on proving him wrong. This country Landler grown to cosmic proportions is given all the room in the world in which to dance and reflect. Fischer and his marvellous Budapest players give it dappled light and shade, a galumphing vigour and a shyly projected charm. There's an extended passage which begins with gauche pizzicato strings and bassoon, a tentative oboe gradually feeling its way in until the music starts to sway and swoon. And, of course, those magnificent horn obbligatos, sumptuously taken here, which seem to still the natural world and coax all living things to stop and listen.

It's not just here at the heart of the piece that Fischer takes an expansive view but pretty much throughout. The emphasis of the opening march is on its muted melancholy, and only when trumpet, bass drum and cymbals add their militaristic colour and stopped horns sour the sound does it sound like a funeral march at all. Fischer say he thinks this is the most Jewish of Mahler's symphonies and his way with voicings, with the way it is 'sung', is precisely that. The ripest of trombone solos in the heartfelt passage just before the close of this first movement is positively cantorial. …

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