Mahler Symphony no. 7

Budapest Festival Orchestra

(2 customer reviews)
Original Recording Format: DSD 64
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“I am happy that the Dutch TV company VPRO made a documentary of our recording of this great symphony. This film is available on the internet. [YouTube/Mahler 7/Iván Fischer] It documents my efforts in proving that the last movement of Mahler’s seventh symphony – despite some doubts of Mahler experts – is a masterpiece. This work is often seen as enigmatic, fragmented, less accessible than the other, beloved Mahler Symphonies. May this recording contribute to a revalidation!

Mahler returns here to a perfect balance. He ended the 6th Symphony in a tragic minor key. Here he offers us the full journey from darkness to light. And what a journey it is! Please note the most magnificent scherzo framed between the two unique night music episodes! I love this symphony.”

– Iván Fischer


Langsam-allegro risoluto
Nachtmusik 1 - Allegro moderato
Scherzo - Schattenhaft
Nachtmusik 2 - Andante amoroso

Total time: 01:14:45

Additional information





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Van den Hul

Digital Converters

Grimm Audio

Editing Software


Mastering Engineer

Jared Sacks


Bruel & Kjaer 4006, Schoeps

Mixing Board

Rens Heijnis, custom design


The recording was originally digitized using the Grimm AD1, which operates at DSD64. The original session tracks were edited and rebalanced (which meant going through the mixer)  in the only available format for that purpose; the Pyramix 352.8KHz/24bit PCM (DXD). Prior to the advent of direct digital delivery, the next step in the production process from 352.8KHz/24bit PCM would be the DSD64 edited master for SACD production. What we have done now is also make a direct conversion to DSD128 and DSD256 from that original DXD edited master, without going through any interim processing steps.

Those DXD to DSD conversions are not up-samplings, as they would be going from one PCM sampling rate to another, for they are different encoding systems. PCM is a digital value sample based system, and DSD is a digital bit density modulated system. Conversion from any PCM sample rate to any DSD bit rate system is a remodulation, not an up-sampling.

We feel there is an audio advantage to this process in using the original files so we give you the choice and you can decide.


Jared Sacks




Original Recording Format


Hein Dekker

Recording Engineer

Jared Sacks

Recording location

Palace of Arts, Budapest, September 2015

Recording Type & Bit Rate

DSD 64


Audio Lab, Holland

Release Date February 8, 2019

Press reviews

Positive Feedback

I am a huge fan of how Iván Fischer interprets Mahler. His shaping of the music, his presentation of the interweaving themes, all just sound so right to me. There is never an over-indulgence. Yet there is massive beauty of line, delicate phrasing, and meaningful dynamic shadings. Fischer always seems to me to meet Mahler on Mahler’s own terms. Not Iván Fischer trying to out-do the composer. Fischer’s Seventh is all Mahler, in both its power and its surprises.

…Everything within this performance of the Seventh is richly textured, with generous earthy tones and a never ending palette of color. As The Times says, “This is an an orchestra and conductor who seem constitutionally unable to generate a boring sound.” It is magnificently played.

Fischer and his orchestra leave no stops unpulled to provide the full range of sound effects and instrumental colors that Mahler envisaged in the orchestration of this symphony. From the first haunting solo of the tenor horn, from the piccolo to the contrabassoon, from the divided solo violins to the tuba, from the guitar and the mandolin to the glockenspiel, this is a feast for the ears. A musical richness to nourish both heart and mind.

NativeDSD – 2019 Album of the Year – Classical Orchestral

Ivan Fischer’s traversal of the Mahler Symphonies with the Budapest Festival Orchestra has been remarkably successful, and this recording erases any doubt that the 7th is totally Mahlerian in its power and it’s surprises.

Cowbells, quotes from Mozart, a joyful climax– perhaps Gustav is having us on at times. But the result can be just amazing as his other symphonies, perhaps even more amazing as performed by Fischer and the BFO.

By the way, this has eclipsed my previous favorite recording, the famous one by Abbado and the Chicago Symphony. Spectacular in every way!”

The Times 5 out of 5

12th April 2019
In sorrow or joy, everything is richly textured, heralded from the start by a haunting tenor horn, the first of many gorgeously earthy wind colours from an orchestra and conductor who seem constitutionally unable to generate a boring sound. The Channel Classics recording contributes its own warmth and clarity, especially helpful in the Nachtmusik interludes, or the brief visitations by a mandolin, guitar, and gently rattling cowbells. Whatever the music’s mood, I found Fischer’s reading utterly compelling and a spring tonic.

Pizzicato 5 out of 5

(…) Ivan Fischer takes a close look at the diversity of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, and not the least due to the excellent playing of his Budapest Festival Orchestra, this is a strong account of the work. The recorded surround sound is excellent.

Sonograma (CAT)

In this extraordinary version, the Orchestra of the Budapest Festival, formed by top-level musicians, dominates the exhibition theme and accurately points out the sound effects that Mahler demands in this symphony. Imagination, expressiveness, nocturnality, melancholy and sadness are the words that appear in the meticulous writing of the bohemian Austrian composer.


(…) Here and everywhere it’s a performance full of first-time wonder in which the natural Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra relish Mahler’s pathos and bathos, with an account that is not just beautiful but intensely moving symbiosis between Fischer and his players completely transcends the painstaking preparation that will have gone into the making of it. (…)

MusicWeb International ‘RECORDING OF THE MONTH’

This is a tremendous performance of the Seventh, magnificently played and recorded. It’s one of the best accounts of the symphony that I’ve heard. I believe this is the last instalment of Iván Fischer’s Mahler series: he’s gone out on a very high note indeed. 5 out of 5

Iván Fischer dirigiert die Siebte – sicher einer der Höhepunkte seines Mahler-Zyklus mit dem Budapest Festival Orchestra. (…) Das Schöne ist, dass man das auf dieser Aufnahme alles auch hören kann. Vor allem im Surround-Modus entfaltet sich bereits mit dem ersten volltönenden Solo des Tenorhorns eine breite orchestrale Klangbühne, von der Piccoloflöte bis zum Kontrafagott, von den geteilten Soloviolinen bis zur Tuba, von der Gitarre und der Mandoline bis zum Glockenspiel. (…) Somit wird anhand der Siebten mustergültig deutlich, dass es Iván Fischer bei Mahler nicht um eine Psychologisierung oder programmatische Ausdeutung der Musik Mahlers gehen dürfte, sondern um den rein musikalischen Reichtum.
Interpretation: 5 stars
Sound Quality: 5 stars
Repertoire Choice: 2 stars
Booklet: 4 stars

Diapason 4 out of 5

L’approche d’Ivan Fischer se caractérise par sa palette chaude « mitteleuropéenne », un travail admirable sur la rondeur, le fondu, la complémentarité et la puissance sonore.

BBC Music Magazine [Orchestral Choice] 5 out of 5

A blazing new dawn for Mahler’s Seventh (…) Iván Fischer dances with brilliant fanfares (…) Throughout there’s a transparency to the recorded sound, even in the heftiest passages, which is beautifully underlined by natural, state-of-the-art recording.
5 Stars for Performance + 5 Stars for Recording

Opus Klassiek

Iván Fischer en zijn orkest hebben met deze uitvoering van Mahlers Zevende een groots monument opgetrokken dat zich kan meten met de beste vertolkingen (…) een hoogtepunt in Fischers Mahler-cyclus. (…)


(…) Iván Fischer’s love for Mahler’s music comes through so strongly that his conducting sweeps you away. Jared Sacks’ engineering is, as always, superb. The silence and clarity of the high-resolution DSD format convincingly conveys the depth and breadth of Budapest’s Palace of Arts and the sheer force of the orchestra. The big climaxes—there’s also one at the end of the first movement—are thrilling. This is a wonderful recording.

(…) All things considered, I am inclined to endorse Ivan Fischer’s new release as the best Mahler 7th on record.
Fischer plays slow and loose with his tempi, sometimes extending the low brass to lip-bursting point, but he treats the symphony as a story to be told and what comes over is a vivid account of an artist’s life, errors and all. Unlike other maestros, he does not try to improve Mahler. If some of the composer’s decisions are questionable, so be it. The Budapest Festival Orchestra are fabulously flexible, joining in what feels like a voyage of discovery, a walk on a rickety bridge above a croc-infested creek. Strong stuff.

KZ April 2019

Iván Fischer heeft zijn Budapest Festival Orchestra in korte tijd naar de wereldtop geleid. (…)Het orkest doet het allemaal perfect uit de doeken met fijn gedoseerde schakeringen in klank en sfeer. Ook de emotionele zeggingskracht is zorgvuldig afgewogen (…) 3 out of 5

(…) From the opening bars of the 1st movement it is clear that we are to be guided though this ‘darkness to light’ symphony by capable hands. (…) The movement’s striking central section (from 8.50) with its soft trumpet fanfares and woodwind cries is performed with all the fantasy and imagination one could wish for and delineated by orchestral playing of the utmost sensitivity.(…) an outstandingly realistic recording. The sound is miraculously detailed yet possesses a remarkable tonal warmth and coherence that places it above most of the considerable competition available in high resolution versions of this work. (…) The present issue deserves the highest recommendation for both performance and sound quality. There can be little doubt that, for many, it will be the top choice for a recording of this symphony.

Financial Times 4 Stars

(…) Every phrase, every note, every dot and dash of their performances is polished till it shines. Put a great, panoramic Mahler symphony in front of them and the result is a kaleidoscope of previously unnoticed detail. (…) this is a Mahler Seven that stands apart from the competition. (…)

BBC Radio 3

… teaming with detail … every phrase moulded with care … each emotional nuance embraced with affection … a rare sense of impetuous spontaneity … he makes me love it as much as he says he does … superb recording … which you ought to sample in surround …


After listening to DSD128 files of Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s new recording of the symphony for Channel Classics, I’ve come to consider it a somewhat shy flower that puts on a brave face and remains in the shadows until a strong conductor coaxes it into the light and convinces it to share all of its bloom and fragrance.

Of sunny bloom, Mahler’s Seventh has a lot, especially in its fourth movement (Nachtmusik II) and portions of the finale. If you’ve got a sound system that can do full justice to a huge Mahler orchestra, you’ll hear an extended conclusion that starts jubilant, happy and carefree, and ultimately lets loose with a kitchen sink of sounds that include tubular bells, percussion, and every means of exaltation you might imagine save hundreds of choristers praising the heavens. True, these are not the sounds of Christian spiritual transcendence and deliverance that Mahler shares at the end of his two choral symphonies, the Second and Eighth. Nor does the Seventh end with anything approaching the Fourth symphony’s childlike view of Christian paradise. Instead, the Seventh’s music is far more personal and aspires less to the universal. That isn’t to suggest that human celebration and jubilation aren’t something worth trumpeting about. But the Seventh is ultimately a far more secular and personal affair than some of Mahler’s other creations.

Iván Fischer is sometimes criticized (rightfully) for prioritizing sheer beauty of sound over emotional expression. Here, however, his love for Mahler’s music comes through so strongly that his conducting sweeps you away. Jared Sacks’ engineering is, as always, superb. The silence and clarity of the high-resolution DSD format convincingly conveys the depth and breadth of Budapest’s Palace of Arts and the sheer force of the orchestra. The big climaxes — there’s also one at the end of the first movement — are thrilling. This is a wonderful recording.

HRAudio.Net 5 out of 5

This magnificent recording of Mahler’s 7th Symphony from Channel Classics is announced as the final release in the survey of the composer’s symphonies undertaken by Iván Fischer and his superb Budapest Festival Orchestra that began almost 14 years ago.

As co-founder of the Budapest Festival Orchestra and founder of the Hungarian Mahler Society, Fischer’s Mahlerian credentials are impeccable, and it was clear with the first release of the 6th Symphony in 2005 that this was going to be a thrilling series of recordings. Each subsequent issue has conclusively proved that to be the case. While other conductors have begun and completed Mahler cycles – usually under live conditions – the long gestation period adopted by Fischer has had the inestimable benefit of allowing, through meticulous preparation, conductor and orchestra to hone their interpretation of each symphony before committing it to DSD.

During the recording of the Symphony the Dutch TV company VPRO made a film entitled:
‘Iván Fischer and the eclectic Mahler (recording the 7th symphony)’ that is available on You Tube. Those contemplating adding this recording to their libraries should make this film obligatory viewing; not just for the valuable insights Fischer provides in documenting his conception and approach to this piece, but also for allowing one the opportunity to observe the heart-warming close collaborative relationship and genuine respect shown by the musicians to their Music Director.

From the opening bars of the 1st movement, it is clear that we are to be guided through this ‘darkness to light’ symphony by capable hands. The initial tempo is perfectly judged with a tenor horn solo that is firm and forthright. The march that follows is trenchant while Fischer’s transition into Mahler’s wonderful lyrical second subject allows the BFO strings to swoon and soar rhapsodically.

The movement’s striking central section (from 8.50) with its soft trumpet fanfares and woodwind cries is performed with all the fantasy and imagination one could wish for and delineated by orchestral playing of the utmost sensitivity.

The same is true of both Nachtmusik movements where one can relish the contribution of individual soloists within the orchestra – the horns and woodwind in Nachtmusik I and the violin, mandolin and guitar solos in Nachtmusik II. Once again Fischer’s tempi seem ideal for these eloquent and, in the case of II, seductive accounts of these subtle interludes. The central Scherzo, placed between the two Nachtmusiks, is marked Schattenhaft (shadowy) and with Fischer and his players making the most of the composer’s often grotesque orchestral effects its sinister and eerie quality is chillingly conveyed.

In the liner notes (referring to the film mentioned above) Fischer writes: “It documents my efforts in proving that the last movement of Mahler’s seventh symphony – despite some doubts of Mahler experts – is a masterpiece”. Few will disagree, having listened to this performance, that he has achieved his aim. From the opening pounding timpani and brass fanfares, the joyous exuberance of this vigorously contrapuntal finale is captured with playing of breathtaking virtuosity and elan. Fischer and his marvelous musicians chart their course through this multifaceted movement with complete assurance in a manner that would surely convince any skeptic of its worth.

One need hardly mention that the experienced engineering team of Jared Sacks and Hein Dekker have worked their usual magic in the Palace of Arts, Budapest and achieved an outstandingly realistic recording. The sound is miraculously detailed yet possesses a remarkable tonal warmth and coherence that places it above most of the considerable competition available in high-resolution versions of this work.

So what about a recording Mahler’s 8th Symphony from these artists? It is unlikely that this will be undertaken, and not just because of both the cost and logistics involved. When Channel records with the Budapest Festival Orchestra the ‘studio’ sessions are planned for a period following one of the orchestra’s 4-6 weeks tours. It is, of course, possible that a one-off concert performance will eventually appear but that is not what Maestro Fischer is trying to achieve with making recordings. The good news is that these artists have recorded ‘Das Lied von der Erde’ for release next year.

In the meantime, the present issue deserves the highest recommendation for both performance and sound quality. There can be little doubt that, for many, it will be the top choice for a recording of this symphony.

Performance: 5 out of 5 stars
Stereo Sonics: 5 out of 5 stars
Multichannel Sonics: 5 out of 5 stars

Musicweb International – Recommended Recording

(…) Iván follows his revitalising Third with a similarly talented Seventh; as before, the engineering is first rate. (…) Iván’s first movement is spaciously conceived, with a full-fat tenorhorn, alert phrasing and a pleasing sense of purpose. His strikes me as a considered approach, in every sense of the word, but that’s not so suggest it’s without nuance or character. Some may prefer a freer, more seamless line, but at least there’s no shortage of ear-pricking incident. Hein Dekker and Jared Sacks’s judiciously balanced, ‘hear through’ recording is a great asset in this respect, Mahler’s smaller, easy-to-miss epiphanies beautifully caught. As for the playing, it’s beyond reproach, with ravishing harps and well-blended Wagnerian brass. Iván’s opener also seems darker than some, but then, like Gielen, he doesn’t shrink from the music’s equivocations; in short,, he forges a much tougher, more absorbing narrative here than most. (…)

The Guardian, The Observer

Iván Fischer, conducting his Budapest Festival Orchestra (Channel Classics), is an eloquent champion, celebrating the work’s eclecticism – cow bells, courtly dances, folk song – in a blaze of aural invention. His players, as ever, are lithe, spirited, virtuosic.

Crescendo Mag Be 4 x ten

(…) Mahlérien émérite à la tête d’un orchestre d’élite, Ivan Fischer construit à un rythme lent une intégrale qui fait date. (…) Les deux “Nachtmusik” sont idéales de fraîcheurs : les somptuosités mélodiques font face à une masse instrumentale allégée et ici foncièrement chambriste. Dans les mouvements extrêmes, la force de la direction d’Ivan Fischer est de renforcer le nerf de cette musique avec énergie et sens narratif. (…) Son 10 – Livret 10 – Répertoire 10 – Interprétation 10

2 reviews for Mahler Symphony no. 7

    Forget all the critics’ hyperbole, with all their adjectives lurching & stumbling over themselves. frankly, the decades of experience in conducting this symphony just isn’t there in this Fischer recording. As nice (indeed polite!) as it is, this is tame compared to Bernstein, Abbado or Haitink! Next time, I’ll ignore the critics, & stick with the known.

    Two stars seems a little stingy, but I just can’t bring myself to click a third star; it’s just not that stellar.

    Gustav Mahler’s symphonies are fantastic. Especially as performed by conductor Iván Fischer. I definitely recommend not only this album, but all of his recordings. Although I have only average musical equipment at my disposal, the technical processing of the album is at an extremely high level.

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