Ivan Fischer: My family was just like Mahler’s

In a video interview to accompany his new release of Mahler’s 7th symphony, the Hungarian conductor compares his antecedents to the composer’s.

I’m not sure it totally stacks up, but watch, anyway.


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  • Both are quite good, but I’ve really been enjoying the Mahler releases with Adam Fischer (Dusseldorf/C-AVI). Ivan doesn’t like the 8th, allegedly, but there will be a new 8th with Adam Fischer coming out in the fall.

    • I’ve never understood why the 7th was considered a problem symphony; and I’ve never been able to become fond of the 8th, or at least the “Veni, creator spiritus” movement (the 2nd movement strikes me as far better).

  • It’s public relations, of course, but in the best possible way.

    I think that Fischer would be far more famous had he not been from Central Europe. He’s really good.

    This film is really nice because it shows how he gets what he wants from rehearsals. There’s a lovely comparison he makes in Mahler’s 8th symphony with “making Joy” with the amateur musician who made shoes on Mondays, Tuesdays, and so on, but on Sunday is liberated. Also, lots of unusual shots of Mahler and his times.

    It’s an excellent documentary, so thanks for posting it.

    • [[ I think that Fischer would be far more famous had he not been from Central Europe.. ]]

      Yes, that’s really put a crimp in the careers of Gergiev, V Jurowski, Jansons, K Petrenko, V Petrenko, Karabits, et al. Poor widdle things.

      • Compare those names you have mentioned with: Simon Rattle (mediocre, in my opinion); von Karajan (a talented Nazi); Bernstein; Mahler himself (in Vienna); Barenboim; George Solti; George Czell; Muti; Eugene Ormandy, etc. In my opinion, Fischer is just as good as any of them with the exceptions of Ormandy and Bernstein. Note that the really famous Hungarians got famous elsewhere.

  • I don’t believe he is pretending to be equal to Gustav Mahler here. The idea of Mahler as an eclectic composer is
    convincing. On the other hand, it is a big shame that he is planning to reduce his conducting commitments to concentrate on composing, as judging from what is on offer here, that he is definitely no Gustav Mahler as a composer. A great conductor and remarkable personality, who overshadows his more introverted, but at times, equally wonderful brother.

  • A delightful and in parts illuminating interview. About Mahler, things to think about. About Fischer’s family vis-a-vis Mahler’s, not a great deal was said and nothing I had reason to think didn’t ‘stack up’, but we can all agree to disagree on that, or I hope we can. ‘Twould be a pointless to-and-fro otherwise.

  • It’s nice too that Ivan Fischer in the film pays tribute to Leonard Bernstein’s tireless work in getting Mahler reinstated as a composer in the classical world.

    • Although the real work in “reinstating Mahler in the classical world” (not that Mahler ever needed “reinstating”) was done by Mitropoulos.
      Walter and Klemperer had also been performing Mahler all along, Walter notably with what later became Bernstein’s orchestra, the NY Phil.
      Bernstein’s “tireless work”, brilliant as it may have been, was prefaced by others.
      You may or may not be aware that the first integral recorded cycle of Mahler symphonies in the USA was accomplished not by Bernstein, but by Maurice Abravanel in Utah.

      • While there some great highlights in the Abravanel cycle (2, 4 and 8 come to mind), the first Bernstein one is better throughout. No disrespect meant to Abravanel, but he was never a ‘house hold’ name in America – except maybe in Salt Lake, of course. I know a lot of people get bothered by the excessive credit given to Bernstein, but he did bring Mahler into people’s homes via television. Nobody else was doing that – no one else had the media connections to do that.

  • Ivan doesn’t get Mahler at all. This new Mahler 7 is atrocious and if you don’t understand the 8th as Ivan says, then you will never ever understand the emotional world of Mahler. That’s why this conductor’s Mahler recordings/performances are as clinical and as cold as ice. Yuk!

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