Home  |  Audio Reviews  Audiophile Shows Partner Mags  News     

Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine

Antonin Dvorak
Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 "From the New World";
Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88. Budapest Festival Orchestra,
Ivan Fischer, cond.

Review by Wayne Donnelly
Click here to e-mail reviewer


CD Stock Number: Deutsche Philips 289 464 640-2


  It is pretty hard for a new version of these well traveled and oft-recorded symphonies to stand out from the pack, especially if the conductor and orchestra are unfamiliar. Ivan Fischer and his Budapest players are relatively unknown in the U.S., although more recognized in Europe. In my opinion, Fischer is the finest Bartok conductor active today. His Philips CDs of that composer's Concerto for Orchestra and The Miraculous Mandarin capture their expressionistic energy and sardonic wit more fully than even such icons as Reiner and Dorati. (No need to start sticking pins into the Wayne doll; I love those guys' Bartok too, but the Fischer CDs really are something special.

Although the countries lie close together in Eastern Europe, the late-romantic Bohemian culture of Dvorak is far different from that of the 20th-century Hungarian Bartok. But those differences pose no problem for these musicians. Their warm, passionate performances are exceptionally satisfying.

As with his Bartok, Fischer here displays a genius for subtle tempo modulations and illumination of expressive detail. My LP copies of these two symphonies occupy about four inches of shelf space, not to mention the 10 or so CDs devoted to them. You might say I'm a pretty devoted Dvorak fan. Fischer brings out qualities in the music that can still surprise me even after repeated hearings.

Two years ago at Ravinia (the outdoor summer venue of the Chicago Symphony), I heard Fischer lead the most exciting Dvorak 8th I've ever heard. Riding home afterwards with an old friend who has played in the CSO for nearly 30 years, I listened with amusement as he complained. Fischer, it seems, wasn't content to just let them play a piece that they already knew perfectly, but insisted on their trying all sorts of new phrasings. That might be OK, he said, during the winter when there was plenty of rehearsal time, but not when they had only one rehearsal for the performance. In fact, he had worked them so hard on the first two movements that they didn't even have time to go over the last two. Now of course, being the Chicago Symphony, they nonetheless gave a brilliant performance. When I began listening to this CD, I immediately thought of that evening. Fischer wasn't interested in a routinely competent performance; he wanted something unique . And that's the same impression I get with these interpretations.

The orchestral playing deserves some commentary. It has always seemed to me that Eastern European orchestras, which for decades were isolated behind the Iron Curtain, have maintained their traditional sonorities and playing styles, whereas orchestras in the West have tended to evolve toward a more "international," less idiomatic way of playing. That's not to say, of course, that great ensembles such as the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics are not distinctive; of course they are. But no other orchestra sounds like the Czech Philharmonic, with its distinctively rounded, burnished brass and deeply warm, rich strings. And I don't recall another orchestra that sounds like these Budapest players either. Their brass, especially the trumpets, have a highly distinctive attack, and the strings combine flawless ensemble with a startling degree of expressive subtlety. The overall effect merges remarkable transparency and emotional commitment.

The recorded sound is pretty good, but nowhere near state-of-the-art. Most important to me is that the engineering allows me to hear everything that is going on. I might wish for a bit more dynamic range and extension -- but I would urge you not to pass on this disc because of sonics. This CD is equally recommendable to the experienced Dvorak lover, who will find many new insights from these warhorses, and the newcomer who just wants to enjoy the music.












































Quick Links

Audiophile Review Magazine
High-End Audio Equipment Reviews


Equipment Review Archives
Turntables, Cartridges, Etc
Digital Source
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Cables, Wires, Etc
Loudspeakers/ Monitors
Headphones, IEMs, Tweaks, Etc
Ultra High-End Audio Reviews


Enjoy the Music.TV


Editorials By Tom Lyle
Viewpoint By Roger Skoff
Viewpoint By Steven R. Rochlin
Various Think Pieces
Manufacturer Articles

Show Reports
Pacific Audio Fest 2022 Report
T.H.E. Show 2022 Report
HIGH END Munich 2022
AXPONA 2022 Show Report
CanJam Singapore 2022 Report
Salon Audio Montréal Audiofest 2022
Florida Audio Expo 2022
AudioCon Los Angeles 2022
Capital Audiofest 2021 Show
The HiFi Summit Q2 2021
T.H.E. Show 2021 Report
The HiFi Summit Q4 2020
The HiFi Summit Q2 2020
Bristol Hi-Fi Show Report 2020
Click here for previous shows.


Audiophile Contests
Cool Free Stuff For You
Tweaks For Your System
Vinyl Logos For LP Lovers
Lust Pages Visual Beauty


Resources & Information
Music Definitions
Hi-Fi Definitions


Daily Industry News

High-End Audio News & Information


Partner Print Magazines
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
hi-fi+ Magazine
HiFi Media
Hi-Fi World
Sound Practices
The Absolute Sound
VALVE Magazine


For The Press & Industry
About Us
Press Releases
Official Site Graphics


Contests & Our Mailing List

Our free newsletter for monthly updates & enter our contests!




Home   |   Industry News   |   Equipment Reviews   |   Press Releases   |   About Us   |   Contact Us


All contents copyright©  1995 - 2022  HighEndAudio.com and Enjoy the Music.com®
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.  All rights reserved.