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Brahms: Symphony No 1, Variations On A Theme By Haydn, Etc / Fischer, Et Al

Release Date: 10/13/2009 
Label:  Channel Classics   Catalog #: 28309   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Iván Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Festival Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

Iván Fischer and his orchestra hit the ball out of the park with this recording, offering a First Symphony full of personality and fire, all at an exalted technical and interpretive level. Indeed, on the basis of this recording I would rank Fischer as one of the truly great conductors now active, not just because he justifies yet another recording of this ubiquitous warhorse, but because of his achievement in creating an orchestra whose sound is as characterful as his performances. Just listen to the playing of the strings in Fischer's own arrangement of the Fourteenth Hungarian
Read more Dance--it's a rich, voluptuous, but also rhythmically acute and somehow very Hungarian sound, the kind of passionate spontaneity we used to hear from colleagues such as Fricsay or Sándor Végh, and these qualities typify the entire disc.

The opening of the First Symphony sets the stage for a performance like no other. With generous (but never vulgar) string portamentos, the entire introduction proceeds in two huge arches, phrased as a real melody. It's less strenuous and granitic then some (think Klemperer), but just as powerful in its own way. More to the point, after an amazingly detailed and exciting allegro, Fischer lets the trumpets and drums rip in the lead-in to the recapitulation, and times the moment of arrival as well as anyone ever has. It's simply masterful. The finale also captures exactly the right combination of majesty and joy, and Fischer's ability to vary the tempo over a wide range without ever breaking the long line is extremely impressive, and genuinely "Romantic". The inner movements, flowing, lyrical, and fresh, set the seal on a truly great performance from first note to last.

The Haydn Variations reveal exactly the same virtues evident in the other pieces here, so there's no need to go into the performance in great detail, save to acknowledge the orchestra's excellent wind section and Fischer's inevitable and imposing buildup of the concluding passacaglia. As usual, the sonics in all formats--stereo, SACD two- and multi-channel--are stunning, offering an ideal combination of clarity (listen to the the soft timpani and lucid bass lines) and warmth. Even if you have a hundred recordings of this music, let this disc be your hundred and first.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Variations in B flat major on a theme by Haydn, Op. 56a "St. Anthony" by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Iván Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Festival Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; Austria 
Hungarian Dances (21) for Piano 4 hands, WoO 1: no 14 in D minor by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Iván Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Festival Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Austria 
Symphony no 1 in C minor, Op. 68 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Iván Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Festival Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855-1876; Austria 

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