Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Every new release by Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra for Channel Classics is something of an event, and this one is no exception. Unlike the case with so many of today's globe-trotting conductors, when Fischer makes a recording with his own orchestra the preparation and level of care bespeaks a long and intimate association. The playing here is wonderful; few recordings of this symphony sound less repetitious, and more carefully (and characterfully) thought out. Even tiny details, such as the transition to the first-movement development section, or the strings/woodwind balances in the coda, tell naturally and effectively. The
second movement is beautifully shaped, with exquisite work from the solo oboe and clarinet, and it rises to a terrifying (but never crude) climax.
That said, I have two reservations. The first is tiny: the very last chord of the otherwise delightfully fleet finale is a bit underwhelming. Fischer, to his credit, doesn't make that ridiculous diminuendo that was all the rage a decade or two ago, but he does cut the ending short for no good reason. Second, while he ignores the repeats in the outer movements, he observes them in the scherzo, making it the second-longest movement in the symphony. If you're going to take those repeats (and in the trio especially I don't recommend it), then at least take the one in the first movement as well, for balance's sake.
Everyone who loves this symphony will have their own personal preference in this matter, and even where I disagree with Fischer I have nothing but praise for his ability to realize his view of the work. There are so many memorable touches. Channel Classics' SACD multichannel sonics are, as usual, natural and luminous, but the timpani could have had a touch more impact, especially in the first movement. This is surely a function of the venue rather than the engineering per se. As we all know, Schubert's Ninth is one of the toughest of all symphonies to do well, but this version overall is very fine indeed, and the German Dances make a charming encore.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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