Beethoven - Symphony Nos. 4 & 6: Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer

Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra give a charming rendition of Beethoven's often underrated Symphonies Nos. 4 & 6.

Composer:  Beethoven
Repertoire: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 6 
Artists: Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer
Rating: 4/5 
Genre: Orchestral
Label: Channel Classics CCS SA 30710

The Music The gentle Fourth Symphony followed the mighty ‘Eroica’, and the ‘Pastoral’ came after the transition from defiance to triumph that constitutes the Fifth (premiered at the same concert). It’s easy to underrate them. But both are wonderful and, dare it be said, perhaps more suitable for home listening. 

The Performance Fischer finds more mystery in the slow introduction to the first movement of the Fourth Symphony than many other conductors, but the clouds are dispelled with a spirited account of the Allegro vivace. And it gets better and better: there’s a beautiful singing quality to the Adagio, and the neat, pointed performance of the last movement is all you could wish for. In the ‘Pastoral’, the brook flows at just the right speed, and the peasants let their hair down charmingly. The only blot on the landscape is the sentimental violin solo that Fischer imposes in the Finale. 

The Verdict These performances will give much pleasure, but in the ‘Pastoral’ Karl Böhm is hard to beat (DG 447 4332).