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The Budapest Festival Orchestra’s Eroica recording is celebrated in international reviews


The Budapest Festival Orchestra’s Eroica recording is celebrated in international reviews

The latest album of the Budapest Festival Orchestra conducted by Iván Fischer was released on April 5 on the Channel Classics label. The CD features Beethoven’s Symphony No 3 “Eroica” and the Coriolan Overture. The album was recorded at the Rumbach Street Synagogue in the summer of 2023, just a few days before the orchestra also performed the symphony in Heroes’ Square to more than ten thousand people.

The release immediately created a buzz, with the first movement of the symphony being played more than 50,000 times on Apple Music, and numerous online forums highlighting, recommending, and sharing the news. Critical reception in Britain, Germany and Spain has been highly positive in the first weeks. At the age of “historically informed” interpretations, music critics welcome the return of an earlier, classic interpretative style.

On the Guardian website, Fiona Maddocks describes the recording as “fresh and vigorous”. “Iván Fischer, inspirational founder of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, has never hesitated to wear his heart on his sleeve, or to encourage his musicians to do likewise.” The reviewer finds both the sound of the symphony as a whole and the sections of the orchestra outstanding: “Strings crisp, brass and woodwind full of personality, horns properly heroic.” On The Times website, Geoff Brown gave four stars to the album, noting that “the performance is at its finest in the fire and crisp attack of the opening allegro and the scherzo's dancing colors. (Oh those gorgeous hunting horns!)”, sighs the author.

At the The Classic Review website, Tal Agam gives a thorough analysis of the album’s approach to Beethoven. “The Budapest Festival Orchestra excels at balancing sections within the ensemble, creating a seamless blend while showcasing individual virtuosity”, he writes and also praises each section: “The most immediately noticeable aspect is the overall orchestral sound. The strings are warm and expressive, employing a noticeable vibrato. The brass section takes a more blended approach, lacking the pronounced rusticity characteristic of many period-instrument performances. The timpani provide a solid foundation without overwhelming the overall soundscape. This style is particularly evident in the opening movement, which immediately transports the listener to a bygone era of Beethoven interpretation; less rebellious perhaps, more noble.” Looking for similar recordings, the author mentions the albums of Barenboim, Wand, and Klemperer.

Dirk Schauß describes his impressions on the Der Opernfreund (Opera Lover) website, noting that in the album “instead of the traditional pathos or grandiosity, Fischer’s approach highlights the lyrical characteristics of the piece.” The critic also acknowledges the merits of the recording: “The recording technology of Channel Classics also deserves the highest praise. It creates spacious, breathing sounds that make every musical detail accessible to the listener. Every whisper of the strings, every distinctive accent of the woodwinds are captured with clarity and precision. This successful recording not only captures the performance of the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Iván Fischer, but also brings the acoustic beauty of the concert hall to life.”

The review in Spanish Scherzo is not short of praise, either. "Fischer is always a sensitive musician, a good architect of symphonic structures, well planned and laid out, with clear plans and polished sonority." According to the site, the BFO’s “orchestral performance is exemplary” on the album.

The recording can be purchased both in traditional CD and digital formats here.