Maybe a bit too gloomily?
“What an outstanding start” – writes conductor Iván Fischer in the programme notes of the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s new CD of Brahms’ Fourth Symphony. “A melodic fragment is blown around on the wind as if it were the leaf of a tree.” And you can hear that Fischer had a spring breeze in mind from the soft rustling. The woodwinds in the second movement sound just as suggestive, creating a sleepy, rosy atmosphere as if in the wake of a hearty dinner with friends.
For the fourth movement of this symphony, composed in 1886, Fischer uses a more explosive metaphor. In the dark variations on Bach’s theme, he hears the ‘prophetic foreboding’ of Oswald Spengler’s 1918-published work, The Decline of the West, that visualises the death of Western culture. Is this approach maybe a bit too gloomy? Gloomy or not, the Budapest Festival Orchestra play superbly once again.