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Iván Fischer 2009-10 Season Preview

Iván Fischer begins his 2009-10 season with the fifth annual Budapest
MahlerFest (Sep 9 – 13), leading the Budapest Festival Orchestra (of which he
is Music Director) in performances of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony, Hans Krása’s Brundibár, a children’s opera in two acts,
and the world premiere of Giovanni Sollima’s Folk Tales for cello and orchestra,
commissioned by Fischer for the festival. 
In the 26th season since its founding by Fischer, the
orchestra will tour Europe, perform several programs at home in Budapest (including
Mozart’s Don Giovanni), and join the Orchestra of the Enlightenment in New York for a
complete cycle of Beethoven’s nine symphonies.  In the second season of his tenure as Principal Conductor of
Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra, Fischer will lead the orchestra in
six programs, including the opening-night concert on September 26 featuring
pianist Evgeny Kissin and gypsy violinist József Lendvay, Jr. as soloists.  Other highlights for Fischer include
two new recordings with the BFO on Channel Classics and guest conducting
appearances with the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and
Cleveland Orchestra.

Among the many highlights of the Budapest Festival
Orchestra’s 26th season will be a cycle of Beethoven symphonies in
New York in spring 2010. This remarkable event at Lincoln Center will also put
the orchestra in the spotlight alongside one of the world’s leading
period-instrument ensembles, the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment
(OAE). Performances of the complete Beethoven symphonies with world-class
conductors and orchestras are always highly-anticipated events, and in recent
decades, interpretations of Beethoven – more than any other composer – have
been a lightening-rod for the period-instrument versus modern-instrument performance
debate. With “Beethoven Then and Now”, four concerts on consecutive days at Lincoln Center,
concertgoers will have a unique opportunity to experience a third approach to
Beethoven performance by Ivan Fischer, who will merge the different sounds and
instruments of these two internationally-acclaimed orchestras into one cohesive

Fischer and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment open “Beethoven:
Then and Now” in Alice Tully Hall with Symphony No. 2 and No. 3 (“Eroica”) on
March 25; and Symphonies Nos. 1, 8 and 5 on March 26.  Next, Fischer leads the Budapest Festival Orchestra in
Symphonies Nos. 4 and 7 in Alice Tully Hall on March 27. Finally, on March 28,
Fischer and the BFO move to Avery Fisher Hall for the last concert in the series,
pairing Symphony No. 6 (“Pastoral”) with the great Symphony No. 9.  American soprano Lisa Milne, American
mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, Finnish tenor Jorma Silvasti and Iceland’s
Kristinn Sigmundsson, bass, are the vocal soloists.  A panel discussion, “On Interpreting Beethoven”, will
precede the final “Beethoven Then and Now” concert.  Moderated by Ara Guzelimian, Dean of the Julliard School,
the panel will address the issues of interpretation, composer intention,
historical accuracy and “authenticity”. 

Fischer has enjoyed a long and productive association with
the OAE and is a Principal Artist of the orchestra.  Ten years ago, he was one of five conductors who led the
ensemble in a complete Beethoven symphony cycle at London’s Royal Festival Hall.  His conducting of Beethoven’s Fifth
drew comparisons to Furtwängler; The Independent, one paper noting the similarity to
the legendary conductor, commented: “Fischer released a torrent of orchestral

Fischer and
the BFO are one of the great success stories of the orchestral world.  From the beginning in 1983, Fischer’s
vision was to transform musical life in his native country and to make the new
orchestra a star on the international stage.  Working with the crème-de-la-crème of his country’s
musicians, Fischer’s intensive rehearsal methods and his emphasis on chamber
music playing are just two key elements that have kept the orchestra focused on
the art of interpretation and the singular joy of music-making.  Innovating programming, “Cocoa
Concerts” for children, and other audience development initiatives have shown
Fischer to be a uniquely inspired – and inspiring – music director.  Critically acclaimed at home and on
tour, the Budapest Festival Orchestra was selected by an international panel of
critics assembled by Gramophone as one of the world’s Top 10 orchestras, an extraordinary
achievement for any ensemble, but even more noteworthy for such a young
orchestra.  This season, Fischer
and the orchestra will release two new recordings on Channel Classics:  a performance of Brahms’s Symphony No.
1, paired with his “Haydn Variations,” which is set for US release in October,
and a recording of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7, due in winter 2010.

Season as Principal Conductor of the NSO

was in his first season as the Principal Guest Conductor of the National Symphony
Orchestra in Washington, DC when, in April 2007, the orchestra named him
Principal Conductor in a two-year agreement that began with the 2008-09
season.  In his second season as
Principal Conductor of the orchestra, Fischer will lead the NSO in seven
programs at the orchestra’s home at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.  Among this season’s highlights are a
program pairing Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, “Pastoral,” with Bartók’s Wooden
ballet (Oct
1 – 3); Mozart’s Symphony No. 38, “Prague,” paired with Mahler’s transcendent Das
Lied von der Erde

(January 21 – 23); Bach’s monumental Mass in B minor (April 1 –3); and an
all-Russian program pairing Rimsky-Korsakov’scolorfully exotic Scheherazade with Stravinsky’s potent Le
Sacre du Printemps

(June 3 – 5).

Fischer’s performance of Mahler’s grandly-scaled Third Symphony with the
National Symphony Orchestra last fall, Washington Post critic Anne Midgette wrote:

“The wonderful thing about big works
of great art … is the payoff: the moment when everything comes together, and in
a flash of illumination it is clear why you had to live with this particular
work for so long in order for it all to make sense. Fischer, who through the
evening was rough and debonair and courtly as called for, found this moment,
and carried it through the work’s towering ending; and the room resounded for a
too-brief moment with the ringing silence of everything that had just happened
before the audience broke into whoops of applause.”

Season Highlights

season, the Budapest Festival Orchestra celebrated its 25th
anniversary with performances throughout Europe, a special birthday concert in
Budapest, and a six-city U.S. tour that included a concert at New York’s
Carnegie Hall.  That concert
featured a performance of Brahms’s First Symphony that a writer for the Wall
Street Journal

described as “a luminous, deeply eloquent performance that I will long
remember.” This summer, Fischer and the orchestra won critical raves as they
toured the great European festivals, including Schleswig-Holstein and the BBC
Proms. A reviewer for London’s Times noted: “This was a sell-out Prom, and I think I know why:
this is an orchestra who never seem to settle for routine.”  The same reviewer described the
Fischer/BFO performance of Dvorak’s Seventh Symphony as “brilliantly characterful,”
praising the “wonderfully responsive playing: Dvorák’s beating heart bubbling
under — and, ultimately, over — in bright-tinted woodwind and warmly burnished
brass. Utterly majestic.”

Fischer and
the BFO’s two most recent recordings, Beethoven’s Five Piano Concertos,
released on the Nonesuch label and featuring soloist Richard Goode, and
Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, released on the Channel Classics label and featuring
mezzo-soprano Miah Persson, have both made the short list for the 2009
Gramophone Awards (Gramophone named the Mahler 4 an “Editor’s Choice” selection upon its
release). The BFO is the only orchestra nominated in two categories:  best concerto recording for the former,
and best orchestral recording for the latter.  The New York Times praised the Mahler 4 as one of the “very best” in a crowded
field, commenting: “Every balance, every tempo feels freshly considered and
aptly judged.” In a similar vein, Classics Today, which gave the recording its top
rating (10/10 for Artistic/Sound quality), noted the efficacy of Fischer’s
guiding hand and declared: “There is no better-conducted recording of Mahler’s
Fourth Symphony available than this one.” 

first season as Principal Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra included
warmly received performances at home and a spring tour of China. The tour
marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic
relations between the People’s Republic of China and the United States, as well
as the 50th anniversary of the NSO’s first international tour.

Fischer:  select 2009-10

September 9
– 13





Symphony Orchestra

concert and gala

Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 performed by Evgeny Kissin and Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen performed by József Lendvay,
Jr., violin

October 1 –


Symphony Orchestra

Symphony No. 6; Bartok:The Wooden Prince

October 22
– 24



Symphony No. 88 in G major 
Bartók: Seven pieces for chorus and chamber orchestra 
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 1 
Brahms: Hungarian Dances No. 11 and No. 15 (orch. Iván Fischer) 
Kodály: Dances of Galanta 

November 4
– 8


Concertgebouw Orchestra

Mozart: Die
– ov.; Piano
Concerto K488; Adagio and Fugue; Symphony No.41

21, 23, 25

Las Palmas, Canary Islands

Festival Orchestra

Mozart: Le
nozze di Figaro

December 3
– 5


Overture to Der Freischütz; Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 with Richard Goode;
Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2

January 7 –

tour with Budapest Festival Orchestra

concerts in Vienna, Paris, Hanover, Essen, Dortmund, Stuttgart, Vaduz and Lyon

January 17


Festival Orchestra


January 21,
22, 23


Symphony Orchestra

Mozart:  Symphony No. 38, “Prague”; Mahler Das
Lied von der Erde

January 24


Symphony Orchestra: 
family/children’s concert

January 28
– 30


Symphony Orchestra

Bernstein:  Three dance episodes from On The
Tchaikovsky:  Lensky’s Aria (arranged for cello and orchestra)
and Rococo Variations (with Mischa Maisky); Dvorak: 
Symphony No. 8

24, 26 and 28


Festival Orchestra

performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni

March 25 –

Center, New York, NY

Then & Now” – The Complete Symphonies

Festival Orchestra and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

2 and 3, “Eroica” (OAE, March 25 at Alice Tully Hall)

1, 8 and 5 (OAE, March 26 at Alice Tully Hall

4 and 7 (BFO, March 27 at Alice Tully Hall)

6, “Pastoral,” and 9 (BFO, March 28 at Avery Fisher Hall)

April 1 – 3


Symphony Orchestra

Bach:  Mass in B minor

April 22,
23, 24


Concertgebouw Orchestra

Schubert: Der
Hirt auf dem Felsen
Schubert: Symphony No. 3; Mahler: Symphony No. 4

June 3 – 5


Symphony Orchestra

Rimsky-Korsakov:  Scheherazade; Stravinsky:  Le Sacre du Printemps

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© 21C Media Group, September 2009

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