Fischer Defeated by Mahler 7th

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 4

Sound Quality: 7

Iván Fischer has nothing to tell us in Mahler’s Seventh Symphony. Indeed, the music defeats him at virtually every turn. The first movement introduction (and subsequent slower sections) moves far too quickly, making hash of Mahler’s careful tempo indications. The whole thing sounds rushed, and the lack of low bass robs the climaxes of their intended impact. Honestly, I can’t recall a more unpleasant reading, one so clearly at odds with what the music is trying to express. The situation with the first Nachtmusik is sadly similar: overly hasty, unatmospheric, lacking in all of those spooky and startling colors that make the music so effective.

The rest of the symphony proceeds more normally, but not more impactfully. A swift scherzo without a trace of the shadowy quality Mahler asks for leads to a decent enough Nachtmusik II. Here, at least Fischer’s lovely strings come into their own. Oddly, the finale goes best, although again it’s impossible to avoid the feeling that the whole thing is underplayed. Even the cowbells at the end, artificially forward though they are, sound more like static than the necessary joyful clangor. Once again the sonics, so oddly deficient at the lower end, compromise the music’s celebratory character, not to mention its darker shadings elsewhere. In short, a failure by any measure.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Bernstein (Sony); Gielen (SWR)

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