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Mahler 9

Crazy, breathtaking, unmissable – are just some of the descriptions of Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s newly-released Mahler CD. The Ninth Symphony is causing quite a stir in the international press.

The Guardian’s critic says he “can’t stop playing the last movement of this recording,” referring to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony by the Budapest Festival Orchestra, who he calls “an ensemble of great character and conviction.” The CD was released on 20 May.

Nurturing the Mahlerian tradition has long been important in the life of Iván Fischer and the orchestra. Prior to the Ninth they had already made recordings of the First, Fourth, and Fifth symphonies, and during the 2015-16 season they will perform the Seventh and Third in concert. What is more, in 2007 their rendition of Mahler’s Second symphony won the BFO the second of their two previous Gramophone Awards, the classical music equivalent of the Oscars.

According to Iván Fischer, the Ninth symphony is highly complex and visionary; heartbreaking in many ways, its melodies are both sad and beautiful at the same time. Mahler balances the orchestral tone masterfully, and the conclusion of the symphony is the most tragic and gripping that has ever been composed – writes the Festival Orchestra’s Music Director.

It is no coincidence that The Guardian’s reviewer, who gave the recording a maximum score of five stars, emphasised the heartbreaking intensity and tenderness of the BFO’s performance. Gramophone, which has recently nominated Iván Fischer for Artist of the Year, called it a sonic dazzler and a potential Award-winner. The Sunday Times lauded the conductor’s “bracing approach” which, according to Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, produces an interpretation just as modern as those of Pierre Boulez or Christoph von Dohnányi.

The world-renowned music critic, Norman Lebrecht, called it an immersive Ninth, with moments of dazzling zest and courage, while The New York Times wrote that it is “gorgeously played” and “full of life”.

The recording is unmissable, according to SA-CD.net, and presents a “wonderfully coherent sound stage… The finesse of the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s playing is unmatched – supple strings, expressive winds and opulent, but incisive brass – this orchestra has it all.”

The Festival Orchestra’s latest Mahler recording was a hot topic on many international music blogs, with one commenter saying the “dynamics are crazy, the clarity breathtaking, a recording that makes your hairs on your neck stand up.”

The recording is distributed by Channel Classics.

Iván Fischer on Mahler and the Ninth symphony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJnpbhadKcc&app=desktop