Adam Fischer conducts Mahler’s enlightening Symphony No. 1

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Mahler
LABELS: Avi Music
ALBUM TITLE: Mahler
WORKS: Symphony No. 1 (Titan)
PERFORMER: Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra/ Adam Fischer
CATALOGUE NO: 8553390

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A hero in his native Hungary, where he is acknowledged as the greatest of Wagnerians by most who have been lucky enough to hear his regular Budapest Ring cycles, Adam Fischer is less known to the rest of the world than his often-touring brother Iván. That he’s capable of equally great Mahler is evidenced by this third instalment – and the first I’ve come across – in his cycle with the Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra, not an ensemble with which many of us will be familiar. Well, this should make us grateful for the elder Fischer’s presence there. 

It’s the most lightly, as in ineffably, characterised Mahler One I’ve heard since Rafael Kubelík’s. Everything flows, moves forward without rush, in the exuberant songs and dances of the first two movements, even in a swifter-than- usual rustic funeral march. And when he needs to, Fischer pulls out the stops – a whole sequence of them as he magnificently marshals the final triumph. I don’t know a more convincing interpretation of those last pages, which can sound bombastic in the wrong hands, but here come across as exhilaratingly decisive. 

Full marks to Dusseldorf horns and trumpets, recorded with exemplary presence and clarity, and to the strings – clearly not the glossy equal of their Viennese or Berlin counterparts, but articulating perfectly thanks to Fischer’s detailed work. His booklet article on following in Mahler’s footsteps in Budapest – where the First was premiered – and Hamburg is entertaining and enlightening from start to finish, and well complemented by a serious note on the music. Masterly.

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David Nice