ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
Beethoven - Symphonies 4 and 6


LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN - Symphonies Nos. 4 & 6 - Ivan Fischer (Conductor) - Budapest Festival Orchestra - Hybrid SACD - 723385307105 - Released: November 2010 -
Channel Classics 30710


Ivan Fischer's overview of major symphonic works now brings us a remarkable recording of Beethoven's Symphonies 4 and 6, which straddle musical history's most iconic symphony, the "FIFTH". Whereas No. 5 is a blunt instrument of pure symphonic logic, 4 and 6 could not be any more different. The first movement of the Fourth could well be mistaken as the overture to an Italian opera, and the whole work could be seen as new experimentations in orchestration and odd rhythmic pulses. And whereas the Fifth is vely linear in its motivic development, the Sixth is a wealth of various ideas, melodies and cross-rhythms that merge flawlessly to establish the foundation for future symphonic works to build on.

What I admire the most within Fischer's view and interpretation, of everything he's recorded and for this new recording as well, is the perfect balancing of forces and elements that gives the orchestral sound its natural spread and depth. Nothing is highlighted, no instrument is spotlit, unless it's called for in the score of course, and therefore the Budapest Festival Orchestra always sounds like a fine-tuned, well-oiled machine with a human heart. For example, in this recording of the Pastoral Symphony, they positioned the wind instruments within the strings to create a more harmonious and full-bodied sound. And again with Fischer, the tempos always seem to carry the right level of momentum and energy needed to convey the music's inner flow. Nothing is rushed or held back for effect. It all feels right. This is not your usual "Disneyfied" look at the Sixth. During the "storm" segment of the symphony for example, thunder is not simulated by sound alone, it's felt, rather than imitated. So if you like your Beethoven straight, without artifice where it's not called for, and for his perfect blend of art and science, this new Channel Classics recording is for you.

The Palace of Arts in Budapest, where this recording was done, is a shoebox shaped hall with computer controlled moveable parts to alter the reverberation and acoustic qualities of the room, to fit perfectly with the music at hand. This recording is proof that the system delivers the desired effect.

Jean-Yves Duperron - November 2010