It was something of a miracle that the recording of Iván Fischer's new CD could be realized, with Brahms' Symphony No. 3 and Serenade No. 2 recorded in Budapest in September 2020 – despite the Covid19 restrictions and border closure, the recording was completed. With the Symphony No. 3, Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra complete the Brahms symphony cycle on Channel Classics, bringing it to the listeners in Stereo and Multichannel DSD and DXD.
“A life’s story in ten bars – there is no more magnificent opening of a symphony than the first 34 seconds of Brahms’ Third” – said Iván Fischer. “We hear a resolute harmony, a proud major chord followed by a twisted one on the same foundation – good and evil, heroic and mean – but it is a mere introduction to the real birth, a victorious emanation of energy, full of life and light. Each bar of this outburst takes us to a new experience: to happiness in F major, sadness in F minor, wandering into the distantly related D flat major, with a confusing dead end of the diminished 7th as if we would almost lose our way. But then a magic solution takes us on a lyrical journey reaching first to fulfillment and finally to a peaceful decline. This is how we should live.”
International critics are already praising, as the Winnipeg Free Press puts it: ”The maestro brings to life the sweeping drama of its opening Allegro con brio movement, which leads to the eloquent Andante, rendered with smoothly legato phrasing and well-blended winds. The waltz-like Poco Allegretto ultimately leads to the finale, Allegro — Un poco sostenuto, bristling with taut energy throughout. The album ends with Serenade No. 2, written in 1859 with unusual scoring that omits the violins. Fischer effectively brings out the intimacy of its smaller chamber form with each of its five distinct movements, from the opening Allegro moderato through to rollicking Rondo: Allegro.”
As Clemens Romijn writes in the booklet accompanying the CD, "Brahms dedicated himself to music that was pure and abstract, which ‘portrayed’ nothing: no stories, no travel epics, no visual impressions. But nonetheless the Third does possess a personal undercurrent. The main thread of all four movements is the little motief F-A-F. With these three notes Brahms, the eternal bachelor, expressed his personal motto ‘Frei aber froh!’ - free but happy! It was a reaction to the musical signature F-A-E (‘Frei aber einsam’ – free but lonely) of his good friend the violinist Joseph Joachim. And despite all his aversion to the new rage of the symphonic poem, he delighted in the letter from Clara Schumann after she heard the symphony: ‘The opening movement depicts a delicious dawn ... the second movement an idyll, prayer in a small chapel in the woods, the flow of a brook, the rummaging of little beetles...’." .