Budapest Festival Orchestra & Iván Fischer – Mahler: Symphony No. 9 (2015)

Artist: Budapest Festival Orchestra & Iván Fischer
Title Of Album: Mahler: Symphony No. 9
Year Of Release: 2015
Label: Channel Classics
Genre: Classical
Quality: mp3 320 kbps
Total Time: 75:51 min
Total Size: 173 MB

1. Symphony No. 9 in D Major: I: Andante comodo Iván Fischer 25:49
2. Symphony No. 9 in D Major: II: Im Tempo eines gema?chlichen La?ndlers Iván Fischer 15:11
3. Symphony No. 9 in D Major: III. Rondo-Burleske Iván Fischer 12:07
4. Symphony No. 9 in D Major: IV. Adagio Iván Fischer 22:45

Ever since Herbert von Karajan took up this symphony in 1980, debate has flared over its essential meaning. Karajan, 72 years old and frail after back surgery, interpreted the score as a composer’s wave of farewell to life and its joys. The meaning of life, in Karajan’s view, was sheer beauty.

Others contested this approach on biographical and musical grounds. Mahler, when he wrote the score in the summer of 1908 and 1909, was not ready to give up. Although some conductors claim to hear the stutter of his faltering heartbeats in the opening bars, cardiologists have clinically refuted any possible similarity. Mahler, at 48, did not regard himself as a dying man. He composed the Ninth, as he composed all his other works, in an urgent quest to understand the human condition.

Iván Fischer, with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, reiterates the heartbeat cliché in his sleeve notes but not, thankfully, in the performance. His interpretation is worlds apart from Karajan in shaping, timings and outlook. Fischer refuses to impose an external view on the Ninth. Like Mahler, he keeps on looking for meaning, taking each page of score on merit and uncovering layers of its unconscious. The closing of the first and opening of the fourth movements acquire an intensity of pathos and surprise for not having been anticipated by the conductor’s illuminated signposts.

Objective, dry and slightly detached, this is an immersive Ninth, played with moments of dazzling zest and courage (the soloists should really be named in the booklet) and rising to an altogether credible, entirely open conclusion. Among living conductors, only Jansons in Amsterdam and Chailly in Leipzig dare to deliver more questions than answers in this work. Fischer is an outside candidate at the Berlin Philharmonic election this week; his reflectiveness and honesty will sadly ensure that he remains on the outside.

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