Programme Guide

Iván Fischer has described the music of Gustav Mahler as his “mother tongue”. It is not without reason that he founded the Hungarian Gustav Mahler Society with Mahler’s granddaughter. To dedicate himself to the composer’s symphonic legacy, he also established a Mahler Festival in Budapest in 2005.

Mahler’s First Symphony is particularly close to the Budapest-born conductor’s heart, as the composer failed miserably with this very piece during his three-year tenure as director of the Hungarian state opera – a traumatic experience for the then 29-year-old. Mahler recognised the problem above all in the “wrong paths” he had led the audience down by telling them the programme of the symphony. He reworked the piece and from then on refrained from publishing extra-musical content about this music.

Fischer conducts the revised form of the symphony with the Philharmoniker – musical sounds of nature meet charming Ländler passages before the whole thing comes to an end in a tremendous chorale after the ringing grotesque of the third movement (including the “Frère Jacques” canon): “All horn players stand up to achieve the greatest possible sonic power”, we are told in the score about this grandiose climax.

Music by Mahler’s contemporary Richard Strauss completes the evening, with the rarely heard Duet Concertino for clarinet, bassoon and orchestra alongside the spirited second Rosenkavalier waltz sequence: with orchestra members Wenzel Fuchs and Stefan Schweigert as soloists.

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