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Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 - Fischer

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 - Fischer

Channel Classics  CCSSA 46524

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, Coriolan Overture

Budapest Festival Orchestra
Ivan Fischer (conductor)

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Review by Graham Williams - April 14, 2024

The many admirers and collectors of Iván Fischer’s superb recordings with his incomparable Budapest Festival Orchestra know that considerable patience is required where symphonic cycles are concerned. His Mahler cycle, took 15 years to bring to fruition, while in the case of Beethoven a well received release of the 7th Symphony in 2008 was followed by a coupling of the composer’s Symphonies 4 and 6 two years later. With release of the 1st and 5th Symphonies in 2019 we reached the halfway stage of what one hopes might eventually become a complete Beethoven cycle.

While some may find the timeline of his symphonic cycles lengthy, the quality of his work undeniably justifies the wait. Fischer's meticulous approach, involving thorough preparation and extensive live performances before recording, ensures that each interpretation is finely crafted and perfected.

In this latest instalment featuring Beethoven's Symphony No.3 ‘Eroica’, Fischer demonstrates his trademark "big band" style, characterized by a robust yet nimble approach that avoids any hint of heaviness. The Budapest Festival Orchestra's performance under his direction is nothing short of stellar, with a remarkable level of unanimity and precision that speaks volumes about Fischer's rapport with his players and his intensive rehearsal technique (a short YouTube video from the recording session is worth watching. https://outhere-music.com/en/albums/beethoven-symphony-no-3-eroica-coriolan-overture).

From the revolutionary fervour of the opening chords to the poignant depths of the tragic second movement, Fischer's interpretation captures the essence of Beethoven's music with unparalleled authenticity. The conductor’s tempos, at least in the first two movement, are spacious compared with some other recent recordings of this work, but thanks to the uncompromising vigour of his rendition they seem absolutely right and yield a performance rich in experience and understanding. Needless to say, the magnificent playing of the superb Budapest Festival Orchestra's musicians – refined and characterful woodwind, firm heroic sounding brass and crisp beautifully articulated strings – guarantees precise execution at every turn.

What truly sets this recording apart is its astonishing textural clarity and scrupulous attention to detail. Each subtlety of Beethoven's score is rendered with striking vividness, enabling listeners to immerse themselves in the music's intricate complexity and richness.

To complete this disc we are treated to a fiery account of Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture that combines appropriate magisterial grandeur with thrusting dynamism.

Interestingly the venue for this 5.0 DSD recording, made in August 2023, was not the BFO’s usual recording venue, the Palace of Arts, Budapest, but the more intimate acoustic setting of the recently restored Rumbach Street Synagogue in Budapest; an excellent choice judging by the remarkably vivid sound quality on this SACD. In terms of tonal warmth, clarity and a commendably wide soundstage it achieves the peerless sound quality familiar from previous Channel Classics releases.

In the liner notes Fischer writes: “May the world follow Beethoven’s vision and may all conflicts lead to gentleness and harmony. I wish all world leaders should listen to Beethoven’s Eroica symphony and be inspired by its wisdom.” Sentiments with which I am sure everyone would concur.

There is no doubt that Iván Fischer's much awaited release of Beethoven's ‘Eroica’ Symphony is a triumph for all concerned. With its exceptional performance, pristine sound quality, and punctilious approach, it undoubtedly deserves a place among the top recommendations for collectors seeking a definitive and fresh interpretation of this iconic work.

Copyright © 2024 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net

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Comment by hiredfox - March 17, 2024 (1 of 10)

Ivan Fischer's Beethoven 6 was one of the finest Beethoven performances of the modern era. "Eroica" is a far more complex work and it will be interesting to see what he makes of it. Eagerly anticipated.

Good that he sees his Beethoven survey as unfinished business.

Comment by Steven Harrison - March 18, 2024 (2 of 10)

Yes, I too like Ivan's Beethoven. I look forward to this one, and more.
Pity about his missing the recording of the Ninth by one day in 2020 due to Covid restrictions coming into force.

Comment by David - April 15, 2024 (3 of 10)

Graham, excellent review! I’ve been enjoying a DSD256 file of this downloaded from NativeDSD.com. I have way too many DSD versions of Beethoven’s 3td, but this is easily now one of my favorites. Having heard this performed live over the years I enjoy in the fourth movement how different parts of the orchestra :”talk with one another.” Very few recordings capture that clearly, but this one does. As Graham notes, this is recorded in a different venue from Ivan Fischer’s other Beethoven recordings and the ambiance is noticeable. I hope that Jared Saks can sometime soon arrange to record Beethoven’s 9th in this same venue.

Comment by hiredfox - April 27, 2024 (4 of 10)

From The Guardian. Little to add. The lad has come up trumps once again.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2024/mar/30/classical-home-listening-beethoven-symphony-no-3-eroica-coriolan-overture-budapest-festival-orchestra-ivan-fischer-review-tine-thing-helseth-tenthing-brass-ensemble-she-composes-like-a-man

Comment by Marcus DiBenedetto - May 3, 2024 (5 of 10)

How many is too many? I own several complete sets of Beethoven symphonies. My favorite to date is Beethoven: Symphonies 1-9 - Järvi. I've also added Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 - Honeck. And now I've added this symphony by Fischer. I must say, I'm glad I did "go for it". Of all my 3rd symphony performances, this one rises to the top. I've listened to it both on my surround system and on my headsets. Multichannel and Stereo are equally impressive. Somehow, the performance creates an emotional connection that was lacking in other performances.

Marcus DiBenedetto
Las Vegas, NV

Comment by hiredfox - May 6, 2024 (6 of 10)

I agree totally Marcus. It is very much to his credit that Fischer always brings fresh and refreshing interpretations to these classics. In the wrong hands the 3rd can sound very stodgy and dull. Many previous recordings of the 3rd in our collections of SACD, RBCD and vinyl languish unplayed under layers of listening room dust. Not this one.

Comment by breydon_music - May 25, 2024 (7 of 10)

I see that Rachel Podger's latest Channel Classics release is a RBCD only - perhaps worrying for the label's previously stated position that Fischer and Podger would continue to be issued on SACD?

Comment by Graham Williams - May 26, 2024 (8 of 10)

Possibly Outhere Classics who now own the label have decided to ditch SACD? We shall have to wait and see.

Comment by Jared Sacks - June 2, 2024 (9 of 10)

The Fischer recordings will continue to be produced as a SACD. Indeed the Podger releases are not SACD anymore.

Comment by hiredfox - June 4, 2024 (10 of 10)

That is wonderful news, thanks Jared. Any hints on what is in the pipeline from Ivan?


Great to know that you still keep an eye on this website.