Brahms: Symphony No. 3, Serenade No. 2

Budapest Festival Orchestra, Ivan Fischer

Original Recording Format: DXD
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Channel Classics Records and Native DSD Music are excited to bring our listeners Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra performing Brahms: Symphony No. 3 and Serenade No. 2 in Stereo and Multichannel DSD and DXD. The album is coming to you one week ahead of its Official Release Date. This is the completion of the highly acclaimed Brahms cycle by Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra on Channel Classics.

“A life’s story in ten bars – there is no more magnificent opening of a symphony than the first 34 seconds of Brahms’ Third. We hear a resolute harmony, a proud major chord followed by a twisted one on the same foundation – good and evil, heroic and mean – but it is a mere introduction to the real birth, a victorious emanation of energy, full of life and light. Each bar of this outburst takes us to a new experience: to happiness in F major, sadness in F minor, wandering into the distantly related D flat major, with a confusing dead end of the diminished 7th as if we would almost lose our way. But then a magic solution takes us on a lyrical journey reaching first to fulfillment and finally to a peaceful decline. This is how we should live.”
— Iván Fischer, conductor

“It is always exciting to record Iván and his marvelous BFO. This time even more so! Due to a sudden increase of COVID-19 cases, Hungary closed its borders on September 1st, 2020. We had just arrived one day earlier from the Netherlands, having crossed the German, Austrian and Hungarian borders with my van full of recording equipment. Despite the restrictions, the Müpa Budapest concert hall remained accessible. The orchestra members all tested negative, and the recording could be completed. You can imagine that the circumstances of this recording make us feel extra grateful and proud to have this new album to present to you today! If the project would have been scheduled to begin a few days later, well, this recording would not be here. I truly hope that you will enjoy Fischer’s account of Brahms’ Third.”
— Jared Sacks, producer & recording engineer (Channel Classics Records)

“Brahms dedicated himself to music that was pure and abstract, which ‘portrayed’ nothing: no stories, no travel epics, no visual impressions. But nonetheless the Third does possess a personal undercurrent. The main thread of all four movements is the little motief F-A-F. With these three notes Brahms, the eternal bachelor, expressed his personal motto ‘Frei aber froh!’ – free but happy! It was a reaction to the musical signature F-A-E (‘Frei aber einsam’ – free but lonely) of his good friend the violinist Joseph Joachim. And despite all his aversion to the new rage of the symphonic poem, he delighted in the letter from Clara Schumann after she heard the symphony: ‘The opening movement depicts a delicious dawn … the second movement an idyll, prayer in a small chapel in the woods, the flow of a brook, the rummaging of little beetles’ (…)”
– Clemens Romijn, excerpt from booklet liner notes

Ivan Fischer, Conductor
Budapest Festival Orchestra


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Brahms Symphony No. 3 - I. Allegro con brio
Brahms Symphony No. 3 - II. Andante
Brahms Symphony No. 3 - III. Poco allegretto
Brahms Symphony No. 3 - IV. Allegro
Brahms Serenade No. 2 - I. Allegro moderato
Brahms Serenade No. 2 - II. Scherzo. Vivace
Brahms Serenade No. 2 - III. Adagio non troppo
Brahms Serenade No. 2 - IV. Quasi menuetto
Brahms Serenade No. 2 - V. Rondo. Allegro

Total time: 01:07:47

Additional information





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Analog to Digital Converter

Horus, Merging Technologies (DXD recording)

Assistant Recording Engineers

Tom Peeters, Paul de Vugt


Van den Hul (exclusive use of Van den Hul 3t cables)

Mastering Engineer

Jared Sacks


Bruel & Kjaer 4006, Schoeps

Mixing Board

Rens Heijnis Custom Design



Original Recording Format


Jared Sacks

Recording Engineer

Jared Sacks

Recording Location

Müpa Budapest Performance Arts Theater in Budapest, Hungary on August 30 – September 2 , 2020

Recording Software

Pyramix, Merging Technologies


Grimm LS1

Release DateJune 4, 2021

Press reviews

Positive Feedback

…I for one will argue that this very restraint on Fischer’s part opens deeper meaning to the work. It reveals and explores Brahms’ introspective side and the considerable craftsmanship that goes into his works. This is particularly important with this, his most complex of creations.

More importantly, Ann comes running in just this morning saying: “I’ve just listened to the most marvelous recording of Brahms’ Third Symphony! Iván Fischer’s interpretation is simply perfect. He lays everything out for us to follow—it simply flows. The entire symphony goes by in what seems like just a few minutes. And the sound quality! Oh, the sound quality!! It is so clear, so detailed, so perfectly natural sounding. I can follow every bit of the musical themes moving from section to section, interweaving and being passed from one instrument to another. The bassoons! How does Jared Sacks make such magic?!?” Yes, I think she liked it.

…I hold this performance in very high regard. It has much to offer. No, it does not sound like every other hell-bent-for-leather performance in the catalog. I am beyond grateful for that. This is a thinking person’s Third Symphony. Fischer challenges us to go between the lines, to dig deeper beneath the surface for the meaning the gives this symphony such a great foundation. That slight pause at the end of a phrase, the deliberate slowing down of a line… These are the subtle re- imaginings that Fischer delivers to us to give a new perspective on this well known work. He is challenging us, and inviting us at the same time, to listen with new ears to this symphony.


The Third Symphony’s germinal F-A-F motif is grandly stated at the outset, yet also sprung with a momentum to sweep us into the main argument, which itself is elucidated by strongly divided violins and underpinned by a bass line of marvelous weight and presence. In Fischer’s shaping we may feel as well as read the imprint of Schumann on the score, and the Rhenish in particular, at least until the development section moves on and Brahms comes to terms with the subject of his tribute.

Of conductors in the modern age, Abbado and Colin Davis used to give Thirds of unusual reach – Rattle continues to do so – which never quite survived the transfer from concert to record. Every now and again – the pause before the first movement’s second subject, the sudden access of feeling at the climax of the Andante, some silky portamento turns of phrase – there lingers the studio’s impress on Fischer’s reading, in gestures that might flow more freely from the impetus of a one-off event.

This is, all the same, a Third to savor and repeat, in touch with its fleeting, dusky nature like few others. Passages of the inner movements – and the central Andante of the Serenade, hauntingly done with its own distinctly Schumannesque qualities subtly underlined – take on the character of a veiled clarinet concerto, yet the orchestra bends and yields to the music’s expressive pulse with a unanimity of purpose that entirely belies the sophistication of Fischer’s rubato.

The surprise – for me at least – comes with the dance-like vitality of the finale’s opening, which hits upon a fully formed yet transitional vein of expression between the extroversion of the Second and the rigor of the Fourth at the same point. Perhaps Mariss Jansons (BR-Klassik, 6/11) built the movement’s conflict in more harmonious proportion to its resolution, whereas Fischer’s version more nearly resembles the blaze of tinder fanned by Gardiner (SDG, 11/09). This is not a sunset-home Third. Rather, it leaves the sense of peaks yet to climb and demons yet to vanquish.


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