Mahler: Symphony No. 6 in A minor

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
Although the release of another CD of Mahler's Sixth Symphony may hardly seem newsworthy, the arrival of the first recording from the National Concert Hall in Budapest's new Palace of Arts certainly is. The hall -- on the Pest side of Hungary's capital city -- opened in 2005, and judging from the rich and detailed sound of the Budapest Festival Orchestra's performance here, its acoustics seem to be an unqualified success. There's an impressive crispness to the contrast between sections of the orchestra, even in the most densely scored passages of Mahler's orchestration. But this recording isn't just a calling card for the concert hall, for the orchestra's passionate ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
Although the release of another CD of Mahler's Sixth Symphony may hardly seem newsworthy, the arrival of the first recording from the National Concert Hall in Budapest's new Palace of Arts certainly is. The hall -- on the Pest side of Hungary's capital city -- opened in 2005, and judging from the rich and detailed sound of the Budapest Festival Orchestra's performance here, its acoustics seem to be an unqualified success. There's an impressive crispness to the contrast between sections of the orchestra, even in the most densely scored passages of Mahler's orchestration. But this recording isn't just a calling card for the concert hall, for the orchestra's passionate performance, led by Iván Fischer, also makes this a Mahler Sixth to relish. This symphony is often considered to be Mahler's "Tragic," but in Fischer's hands it's far from grim. The music's final collapse in the last movement does have a sobering impact, but the effect is enhanced by its contrast to the beauty and excitement that Fischer and the orchestra conjure out of the rest of the score, with the bipolar highs and lows amplified to their extremes. Fischer chooses to follow Mahler's revised thoughts on the symphony -- the inner Andante moved before the Scherzo, and the third hammer blow removed from the finale -- and in every way the conductor seems tuned in to both the unique soundworld and the ambivalent emotional tone of this composer's music. Aficionados will want to hear Fischer's first recorded thoughts on Mahler (his recording of the Second Symphony was issued a year after this release), and potential tourists to Budapest should make sure to schedule their visits during concert season.
All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
Best known for performing music by modern Hungarian composers such as Bartók and Kódaly, and also for his numerous Mozart recordings in the 1990s, Iván Fischer takes a surprising turn in his repertoire by recording Mahler's "Symphony No. 6 in A minor, Tragic," with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, a bold undertaking for any maestro, but one for which he is well-prepared. Fischer has performed Mahler live on many occasions, and has devoted considerable time to studying the music before committing an interpretation to disc, so his 2005 Channel Classics release cannot be called careless or hastily planned. This symphony may not be as difficult to interpret and perform as are others of Mahler's gargantuan essays, but because expectations are high among devotees, Fischer has a tough job pleasing the cognoscenti. Curiously, many obsessive Mahlerians have a marked preference for this work, possibly because it is the most coherent and powerful of the purely instrumental symphonies. Fischer's performance can be enjoyed as one of the best sounding to come along in years -- the nuances in the brass and percussion are especially marvelous -- and it can be taken as one of the most reasoned and thoughtful interpretations as well. Fischer aims for clarity and balance, and gets a transparent reading from the BFO that reveals every note. Yet a real feeling for Mahler's exaggerated emotional world seems to be lacking, and when the music should be wildly hysterical, appallingly grotesque, and running headlong toward catastrophe, Fischer's version keeps safely back from the edge of the abyss, dusts itself off, and reminds us that it is, after all, only a symphony, not the end of the world. Alas, the great recordings of the "Symphony No. 6" actually do sound like the end of the world, and can almost create physical sensations of heartache and terror. This recording, however well it sounds and despite its many interesting features, has no such power, and is much less gripping than it should have been.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/11/2005
  • Label: Channel Classics Nl
  • UPC: 723385229056
  • Catalog Number: 22905
  • Sales rank: 162,979

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–4 Symphony No. 6 in A minor ("Tragic") - Gustav Mahler & Budapest Festival Orchestra (78:41)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Iván Fischer Primary Artist
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