From a musical perspective, the lands of the old Habsburg monarchy boasted fertile soil: great achievements in the world of art music came from here and a fascinating folk music is just as at home here as is the fiery idiom of the gypsies. Iván Fischer shows the whole spectrum in an Austro-Hungarian programme including works by Joseph Haydn, Béla Bartók, Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms and Zoltán Kodály.
Haydn, the composer who established central genres of Viennese Classicism, such as the string quartet and the symphony, is represented this evening by his Symphony No. 88. A good 50 years later, one of the most entertaining misunderstandings in the history of music occurred when Liszt and Brahms tried to lend their rhapsodies and dances an animated Hungarian verve – when in fact it was the music of the gypsies they picked up on.
The works of Bartók and Kodály, which are based on authentic folk music, with its hard rhythms and distinctive, uneven melodies, reveal the difference to Magyar music. Coming from Budapest and having studied in Vienna, Fischer is clearly the ideal conductor for such a concert. And knows well how to bring out both the fire and the intricate structures in this music. “A conductor with sun in his heart,” as one critic described the evening.