Budapest Festival Orchestra
Ivan Fischer, conductor
This album is one of the best achievements in the performing history of Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies. The fabulous Budapest Festival Orchestra under the baton of its historic conductor and founder, Ivan Fischer, is able to add new colours to extremely lively compositions which have their roots in gipsy and Hungarian folk music.
Liszt could not speak a word in Hungarian, but he was an ardent patriot and never forget his origins, which he reaffirms also with spectacular gestures. The Hungarian Rhapsodies were originally written for piano, and some of them were rearranged for orchestra, piano duet and piano trio. The orchestral version, the one recorded by Fischer, was arranged by Franz Doppeler and revised by Liszt himself. The origins of the Rhapsodies can be easily traced back to Liszt’s journey to his native country in 1839, when he renewed his contact with its characteristic music visiting a gypsy encampment and hearing some of the best gypsy bands.
As Fischer himself said about this recording, he «combined the orchestral version with improvised gypsy music-making in order to bring back something of the original sound Liszt fell in love with» and for this reason his approach to the Rhapsodies is extremely free and original. His intention was to accentuate the folk and gipsy influences in these compositions and thus he made large use of cadenzas for violin, clarinet and flute and asked for the support of cimbalon players to endow music with a peculiar spirit. His direction is characterized by great freshness, but what makes the Rhapsodies really enjoyable is the perfect blend between precision and lucidity and what seems a real fun – maybe the most powerful mix ever existing.