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Brahms: Symphonies 1 & 2, Etc / Kertész, Vienna Po


Release Date: 09/17/2007 
Label:  London/Decca Double Decker Catalog #: 448197   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic OrchestraLondon Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 21 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The recordings of Symphonies Nos. 1, 3 and 4 by Kertész and the VPO date from 1973 and were among the last the conductor made (he had committed No. 2 to disc in 1964, at the start of his recording career). The recording of the Haydn Variations was the very last recording Kertész made. In fact, he did not quite finish it; but in tribute to him the members of the Philharmonic recorded the finale without conductor, so that the variations could be released along with the symphonies on LP in 1974. Not that these are or were the greatest accounts of the Brahms symphonies ever put on tape. At the time, the VPO was in a period of decline. And if one listens closely, one hears the occasionally messy strings, the out-of-tune horns and Read more winds, the shaky solo trumpet, the trombones that are late.... But the tone colors! The burnished solo horn, the piquant oboe, the warm, almost fat, string sound. The Viennese could and did respond to real conducting, and Kertész really cranked them up for these sessions. The result is a series of readings as impassioned, committed, and musical as any in the catalog. Listen to the finale of No. 3, where Kertész lights a fire under the Philharmoniker and keeps it stoked right up to the coda, and marvel at the fact that Brahms can still be thrilling.
Kertész had an infallible sense for the right tempo, and in Brahms – where being half a minute off in a ten-minute movement can spell disaster – such insight is a tremendous advantage. It’s worth noting that Kertész observes the first-movement exposition repeats in all three of the symphonies for which Brahms made that an option (the composer made sure it wasn’t an option in Symphony No. 4, which should be a clue to the correct interpretation of the double bar in the others). My own opinion is that only one of those repeats really works, the one in No. 2; still, it’s nice to have all the notes Brahms wrote. And none that he didn’t, since the original LP release of Symphony No. 1 added a whole measure to the first movement (at mm. 225-226), which Kertész would certainly have fixed if he had heard it. – Ted Libbey, author of The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection. Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in C minor, Op. 68 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855-1876; Austria 
Date of Recording: 1973 
Venue:  Sofien Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 46 Minutes 43 Secs. 
2.
Variations in B flat major on a theme by Haydn, Op. 56a "St. Anthony" by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; Austria 
Date of Recording: 1973 
Venue:  Sofien Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 18 Minutes 53 Secs. 
3.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  István Kertész
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Austria 
Date of Recording: 1964 
Venue:  Sofien Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 44 Minutes 7 Secs. 
4.
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 
Date of Recording: 1967 
Venue:  Concert House, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 29 Minutes 35 Secs. 

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