09 March, 2014

Concert Review: Budapest Festival Orchestra - Ivan Fischer

Concert Review: Budapest Festival Orchestra - Ivan Fischer

March 6, 2014, CCCH
Budapest Festival Orchestra - Ivan Fischer
Mozart - Bruckner

Ever since I encountered the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Ivan Fischer on their early Hungaroton recordings, I have followed them, particularly through their Philips and Channel Classics recordings; the latter are especially splendid. I was also fortunate enough to have heard them in 2004 (Beethoven and Brahms). I was really excited when I knew they would do Bruckner this time. I googled but found little on them in Bruckner. My considerable expectations were amply fulfilled.

I cannot imagine Mozart's Symphony 40 done any better. Fischer is not a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, and conducted with economy and clarity. The interpretation did not milk the dark undercurrents, but its classicism revealed layers after layers of music, AND emotion, including a tinge of sadness where appropriate. The orchestra was so perfectly balanced that we could hear everything even behind the orchestra. The strings (divided violins) in particular were outstanding, rendering lucid counterpoints. The winds and brass (valveless horns) were likewise perfectly balanced.

Fischer had the full measure of Bruckner's Symphony 9. While the transparent reading did not emphasize angst (like the dissonance in the Adagio), there was a sense of inevitability that led one to contemplate whether Bruckner achieved peace.The seating arrangement was most unusual (but effective) in that the 5 horns were placed upfront in a semi-circle surrounding Fischer, with the 4 Wagner tubas behind them.

Encore was a blissfully serene and incredibly refined Bach Air on G String.

Gramophone had the BFO as the world's 9th best, but IMHO they are among the very top. The strings in particular are second to none, the VPO included.

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