István Kertész, LSO – Dvorak Symphony No.8 “Scherzo Capriccioso” (1963/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Digital Booklet | 1.82 GB
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: Highdeftapetransfers
Istvan Kertesz (1929-1973) was born into a Hungarian-Jewish, and he grew up taking violin lessons at a time “when terrible things were happening in Europe.” By the time Istvan was twelve, he had been mastering the piano as well. But Hungarian Jews were persecuted relentlessly, and many of his extended family members were sent to Auschwitz to be murdered. After the war, he resumed his studies in what is now the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, taking composition lessons with Kodaly and Leo Weiner. An interest in conducting led to studies with Laszlo Samogyi and Janos Ferencsik. Kertesz openly admired Bruno Walter as well as Otto Klemperer, the latter fo whom had led the Budapest Opera. Kertesz married soprano Edith Gabry, with whom he had three children, Gabor, Peter, and Katarin. Between 1953 to 1957, Kertesz conducted in Gyor, moving from 1955 to 1957 to the Budapest Opera.
With the Hungarian uprising Kertesz left for studies in Italy, at the St. Cecilia National Academy in Rome, with Fernando Previtali. Germany soon called for Kertesz’s talent, and he appeared at Hamburg Symphony and State Opera, Wiesbaden and Hanover, leading performances of La Boheme and Fidelio that guaranteed his reputation. In March 1960 he was appointed Music Director of the Augsburg Opera, adding Mozart, Verdi, and Richard Strauss to an expanding repertory. Guest appearances came, by way of Spoleto, Berlin, Israel, London, Paris, and San Francisco, with several major artists’ requests for his collaboration: Rubinstein, Curzon, Tuckwell, and Katchen. Kertesz debuted in Liverpool in 1960. He then assumed work with the Israel Philharmonic, where he performed 378 works over eleven years. The premier of Britten’s Billy Budd brought some distance between Kertesz and German ensembles, who had complained of his fast tempos.
From 1965 to 1968 Kertesz led the responsive London Symphony Orchestra, also appearing with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Kertesz’s performances of the complete Dvorak symphonies took recorded form with Decca, 1963-1966. In 1973 Kertesz was appointed to lead the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. Cleveland courted him as conductor to succeed George Szell, but the Board refused him. Instead, Kertesz led the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, 1970-1972.
It was in Israel, off the coast of Herzliya, that Kertesz drowned (16 April 1973) under mysterious circumstances. He was forty-two, a much-beloved figure in music. Kertesz rejected authoritarian means to lead orchestras, and he would not lead scores he disliked, particularly modernists he felt “could be left to the specialists.” His repertory in opera included some 60 full scores, and his mastery in works by Schubert, Brahms, Mozart, Dvorak, Bartok – especially his recording of Bluebeard’s Castle – and all fellow Hungarians still reigns as a model for all to admire. A contemporary review of the Dvorak G Major Symphony and Scherzo Caprriccioso for Decca wrote:
Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony and Scherzo capriccioso inhabit an urbane and genial world, but István Kertész’s approach to them is direct. Thankfully, he did not see the first movement’s second subject (or any new theme or episode) as an excuse to grind to a halt, which means there is never any lack of impetus or momentum, nor is the structure of either work compromised. Kertész does mould the line, use rubato, strictly controlled tempo and dynamic variation, and pays close attention to detail and balance, and the results are marvellously idiomatic, expressive, and invigorating. As with Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic, Kertész’s relationship with the LSO was very close, and it plays magnificently.
The sound in both performances is outstanding. Anyone wanting to hear what is wrong with digital sound need only listen to the end of the Scherzo capriccioso. There is depth and width, huge presence, every section of the orchestra is clearly audible (the final timpani role is startlingly realistic) the timbre of each instrument can be heard, and the ersatz quality found in even the best quality 24bit high-resolution recordings is completely absent.
1. I. Allegro con brio (G major) 10:08
2. II. Adagio (C minor) 10:02
3. III. Allegretto grazioso – Molto vivace (G minor) 6:01
4, IV. Allegro ma non troppo (G major) 9:00
5. Scherzo Capriccioso 11:55
István Kertész conductor
London Symphony Orchestra