When Iván Fischer founded the Budapest Festival Orchestra more than 30 years ago he made a personal dream become true. Core of the philosophy of the orchestra is the total absence of daily routine. It is about taking the risk, the initiative and freedom to do things differently. Every concert is therefore a joyful discovery of uncharted territory, a journey to new horizons in music. It feels unexpected and surprising as if it was played for the very first time. The Festival Orchestra is driven by an openness towards the new and the unknown, by curiosity and attention to details. It is the innovative approach to music, the musician’s dedication and their permanentRead more strive for excellence that made Budapest Festival Orchestra the youngest of the top 10 ranked ensembles in the world.
I honestly can’t remember hearing a performance of this extraordinary symphony that was so plainly in love with its ethos, its originality, its sonority. Iván Fischer reads the ‘small print’ of the score with such thoroughness that he makes most other readings feel like generalisations by comparison. It’s one of those performances that makes one think of the piece differently, and that in itself is cause for celebration and reassessment.
The Rondo finale opens in a blaze of light. This is an ebullient movement and Fischer ensures that what we hear is a joyous celebration amid what Mahler often makes into a riot of orchestral colour. He handles the various episodes of the Rondo extremely well, both individually and as a collective whole, making the movement cohesive, which is something that eludes some conductors. I found myself swept along as I listened: this is one of the most convincing accounts of this allegedly problematic movement that I can recall hearing. When we reach the last couple of minutes the orchestral panoply, including festive bells, is superbly delivered, making this a glorious culmination of Mahler’s Seventh.
This is a tremendous performance of the Seventh, magnificently played and recorded.