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Istvan Kertesz: The London Years

Kertesz,Istvan / Lso
Release Date: 04/15/2014 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 002033602   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Béla BartókJohannes BrahmsAnton BrucknerAntonín Dvorák,   ... 
Performer:  Walter BerryChrista LudwigPilar LorengarErzsébet Komlossy,   ... 
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony OrchestraAmbrosian SingersBrighton Festival Chorus,   ... 
Number of Discs: 12 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

First let’s talk about the silly concept: Kertesz made plenty of recordings elsewhere during his “London Years,” but of course don’t expect Decca to care about those. Indeed, this isn’t even a complete collection of his recordings made in London, with the London Symphony. Rossini’s Stabat Mater, for example, is missing. However, I was very excited to see listed on the back of the box the hitherto unknown recording of Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique coupled to A Night on Bald Mountain. Turns out there’s a reason it has been hitherto unknown. It doesn’t exist. Disc Three (of twelve) actually contains Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony (correctly listed in the booklet and on the actual sleeve). So let’s consider the performances that do in fact exist Read more and were included in this collection.

Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, with Christa Ludwig and Walter Berry, remains the reference recording of the work. The two Brahms Serenades have a lovely, rustic quality also characteristic of Kertesz’s Dvorák, and are full of youthful energy. That Bruckner is actually quite good too, but maybe a bit relaxed in the scherzo and finale. Kertesz’s Dvorák has been issued and reissued billions of times, but the selection here includes some relative rarities (the Requiem and Wind Serenade) along with Othello, Carnival, The Noonday Witch, and the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies. The latter was the first performance I ever heard that played the final bars the way Dvorák actually wrote them, with prominent timpani, and very few have done it since.

Kertesz’s Kodály recordings (the complete Háry János with Peter Ustinov, Peacock Variations, Psalmus hungaricus) are likewise reference recordings, while his Respighi disc containing The Pines of Rome, The Fountains of Rome, and The Birds is nothing special. The remaining recordings are all concertos and are worth hearing for their respective soloists: Barry Tuckwell in Strauss (father and son) horn concertos, a young Vladimir Ashkenazy in Mozart’s “Jeunehomme” concerto and Clifford Curzon in No. 24, and finally Julius Katchen in the two Ravel concertos, Bartók’s and Prokofiev’s Third, and Rhapsody in Blue. I assume a Katchen box will appear one day with all of this same stuff, but it is in any case well worth having.

So artistically this is all top-notch, even if the actual selection makes very little sense. Kertesz was a terrific conductor, and limiting him to “the London years” can’t hide that fact.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Bluebeard's Castle, Op. 11/Sz 48 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Walter Berry (Bass), Christa Ludwig (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911/1918; Budapest, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 11/1965 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 59 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Language: Hungarian 
2.
Serenade no 1 in D major, Op. 11 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1858; Germany 
3.
Serenade no 2 in A major, Op. 16 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1858-1859; Germany 
4.
Symphony no 4 in E flat major, WAB 104 "Romantic" by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Symphony no 7 in D minor, Op. 70/B 141 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884-1885; Bohemia 
6.
Symphony no 8 in G major, Op. 88/B 163 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Bohemia 
7.
Symphony no 7 in D minor, Op. 70/B 141 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884-1885; Bohemia 
8.
Symphony no 8 in G major, Op. 88/B 163 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Bohemia 
9.
Requiem Mass, Op. 89/B 165 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Pilar Lorengar (Soprano), Erzsébet Komlossy (Alto), Robert Ilosfalvy (Tenor),
Tom Krause (Bass)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Singers
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1890; Bohemia 
Date of Recording: 12/1968 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 94 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
10.
Psalmus hungaricus, Op. 13 by Zoltán Kodály
Performer:  Lajos Kozma (Tenor)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Brighton Festival Chorus,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; Hungary 
Date of Recording: 06/1970 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 23 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Language: Hungarian 
11.
Háry János, Op. 15 by Zoltán Kodály
Performer:  Margit László (Soprano), Zsolt Bende (Baritone), John Leach (Cimbalom),
Olga Szönyi (Soprano), Peter Ustinov (Spoken Vocals), Erzsébet Komlossy (Soprano),
László Palócz (), György Melis (Baritone)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Edinburgh Festival Chorus,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir
Written: 1927 
Date of Recording: 1968 
Length: 100 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Language: Hungarian 
12.
Psalmus hungaricus, Op. 13 by Zoltán Kodály
Performer:  Lajos Kozma (Tenor)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Brighton Festival Chorus,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; Hungary 
Date of Recording: 1970 
Length: 23 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Language: Hungarian 
13.
Variations on a Hungarian folksong "The Peacock" by Zoltán Kodály
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938-1939; Hungary 
Date of Recording: 1970 
Length: 27 Minutes 33 Secs. 
14.
The Peacock by Zoltán Kodály
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; Hungary 
Date of Recording: 1970 
Length: 2 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Language: Hungarian 
15.
Concerto for Piano no 3, Sz 119 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Julius Katchen (Piano)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USA 
16.
Concerto for Piano no 9 in E flat major, K 271 "Jeunehomme" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy (Piano)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1777; Salzburg, Austria 
17.
Masonic Funeral Music in C minor, K 477 (479a) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
18.
Concerto for Piano no 24 in C minor, K 491 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Clifford Curzon (Piano)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1968 
19.
Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1924; Rome, Italy 
20.
Gli uccelli "The Birds" by Ottorino Respighi
Performer:  William Bennett (Flute)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; Rome, Italy 
21.
Fountains of Rome by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1916; Rome, Italy 
22.
Concerto for Piano no 3 in C major, Op. 26 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Julius Katchen (Piano)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917-1921; USA 
Date of Recording: 11/1968 
23.
Concerto for Piano in G major by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Julius Katchen (Piano)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1931; France 
Date of Recording: 11/1965 
24.
Concerto for Piano left hand in D major by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Julius Katchen (Piano)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1930; France 
Date of Recording: 11/1968 
25.
Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin
Performer:  Julius Katchen (Piano)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; USA 
Date of Recording: 11/1968 
26.
Concerto for Horn no 1 in E flat major, Op. 11 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Barry Tuckwell (French Horn)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1882-1883; Germany 
27.
Concerto for Horn no 2 in E flat major, AV 132 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Barry Tuckwell (French Horn)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1942; Germany 
28.
Concerto for Horn in C minor, Op. 8 by Franz Strauss
Performer:  Barry Tuckwell (French Horn)
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1865; Munich, Germany 
29.
Noon Witch, Op. 108/B 196 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Bohemia 
Date of Recording: 1971 
30.
Serenade for Winds in D minor, Op. 44 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Bohemia 
Date of Recording: 1967 
31.
Othello Overture, Op. 93 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891-1892 
32.
Carnival Overture, Op. 92 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; USA 

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