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'In full sail' (his original title for the second movement) could be a motto for the whole symphony. Here is the young Mahler, full of optimism. We hear his love of nature and beauty, and his childhood memories. Fragments of distant military music, birdsong and Yiddish folk tunes come to his yet untormented mind. These episodes are real jewels, especially the Viennese trio in the second movement, the brief Klezmer music, then the Schubert-like Lied (did he have the Lindenbaum in mind?) in the third; and the poetic, gentle melody that interrupts the stormy final movement. Admirable too is the architecture, as the composer completes his journey from hell to paradise - dall’inferno al paradiso - in the footsteps of his idol Beethoven. Mahler was in his late twenties when the world made acquaintance with his first symphony. It was in the Hungarian capital Budapest, and circumstances were difficult. In the diffuse acoustics of the Vigadó Hall, surrounded by hatred and mistrust, Mahler experienced his first major flop. Since then, at each performance I feel that we Hungarians have a moral duty to convince audiences that this is a perfect and exceptionally beautiful masterpiece.
Iván Fischer (from liner notes)
Mahler: Symphony No. 1
Langsam. Schleppend. - Immer Gemächlich
Kräftig Bewegt, Doch Nicht Zu Schnell
Feierlich Und Gemessen, Ohne Zu Schleppen
“Right from the beginning, Fischer combs through every nuance in Mahler's score, his brilliant rendering of orchestral sonorities - both individually and blended - deftly recorded by Channel. The first movement alone confirms Fischer's growing credentials as a major Mahler interpreter...Though this performance has much to offer - poise, intensity, dignity - we shouldn't lose sense of what it is not: impulsive, folk-like, impetuous.”
5th August 2012
“immediately gripping and very special...The playing is lean and clean, not quite stylish but brilliantly transparent, as if the conductor is shining a strong torchlight on every corner of the score. Sometimes the performance lacks rhythmic lift, but the galvanising climaxes of the first and last movements are thrilling.”
The Independent on Sunday
12th August 2012
“Fischer's exhilarating recording of Mahler's First with the Budapest Festival Orchestra dispels the sick-room air that hung inevitably over last year's centenary commemorations... the closing peroration is spine-tingling.”
19th August 2012
“Fischer’s elite band have already displayed superb Mahlerian credentials. This lovely account of the First...is especially remarkable in Fischer’s delicate, chamber-like intimacy in repose and his lilting, rustic way with the Ländler-like dance rhythms.”
“Eloquence in all departments was to be expected from Ivan Fischer and his hyper-alert Hungarians...What I hadn't anticipated was the risk-taking with a couple of crucial tempos. Fischer's orchestra always trusts his elasticity, and that's apparent from the very start: every little detail of the natural panorama is freely inflected...A vivid interpretation which deserves a place of honour”
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