The classical music world has come to rely upon Ivan Fischer as a one-amn spokesman for Hungarian music as performed by the best of Hungarian musicians. His approach to the whole canon from Liszt to Bartok has brought a native flavor that international conductors can't match. That's certainly ture in this exceptional Kodaly disc, where even the two familiar works, an extended Hary Janos Suite and the Galanta Dances, sound brighter, wittier, and more vivacious than eer before.
Like Copland in this country, whose idiom was sophisticated and yet folk-based, Kodaly's music speaks directly to several flavors of Hungarian culture, and Fischer is able to capture them all. The unfamiliar works here make the program even more savory, with a smattering of folk songs for children's chorus and a longish (11 min.) transcirption of Marossxek Dances written for piano. Yet in was in the impish Hary Janos excerpts that I felt I understood the raucous, piquant hero for the first time, even beyond what Istvan Kertesz gave us thirty years ago in his acclaimed Decca recording of the complete work. It's all quite brilliant.