Iván Fischer – Composers Portrait- With Wim Van Hasselt (trumpet), Nora Fischer (soprano), Kobra Vocal Ensemble, Budapest Festival Orchestra w/ Iván Fischer conducting – Channel Classics CCS 34516 (9/9/16) TT: 55:12 *** 1/2:

Iván Fischer shows his composing credentials, with an eclectic collection paired with a fine recording.

If I mention Iván Fischer you will almost certainly know of his many wonderful recordings. But Fischer is now leading a somewhat double life. He started his musical efforts at about age 20 as a composer, but has spent the last decades conducting. Of late, Fischer has returned to his composing roots, and this disc features several of his works, most are world premiers. Fisher describes himself not as a composer but as a composing conductor, and the many composers whose music he conducts are his teachers and his sources of inspiration.

If Fisher was seen to be a bit quirky and eclectic at the podium, you will also find those traits in his music.

The disc starts with a fanfare, then quickly moves on to a variety of pieces, some with his soprano daughter Nora.

There is Tsuchigumo, a 20-minute satirical children’s opera, an Indian raga that mates a string quintet with a raga, and a Yiddish mourning song A Nay Kleyd.

The disc is a good listen; there are extensive liner notes to put the music into context.

The recording is a good one, as I have come to expect from Channel Classics. It’s musical, with a realistic spread between my stereo speakers. Dynamics are excellent when the music calls for it, and the soprano’s voice is natural.

The disc is called Composer’s Portrait 1, implying that there will be more to come. Fischer is an interesting composer, with a unique voice. Eccentric is a word that comes to mind, but not in a negative way—this is a very listenable collection.

Compositions on the disc include:
A German-Yiddish Cantata
A Nay Kleyd
Gypsy song
La malinconia
Shudh-Sarang Sextet
Spinoza translations

—Mel Martin