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Istvan Kertesz: The London Years - works by Bartók, Brahms, Bruckner, Dvorák, Kodály, Mozart, Respighi, Strauss, Gershwin, Prokofiev [12 CDs]

Notes & Reviews:

During the ten years that Hungarian conductor István Kertész made recordings for Decca he produced a body of recordings which quickly established themselves as top choices for the record buying public. His recordings for Decca mainly took place in London and Vienna. The wide variety of recordings he made in London is demonstrated in the present collection.

The death of Hungarian born conductor István Kertész in a drowning accident off the coast of Israel in April 1973 was a colossal tragedy, and a huge loss to the musical world. Fortunately for future generations, he left a legacy of choice recordings covering a wide range of core classical repertoire.

Kertész made his recording debut with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1963 (he was appointed principal conductor in 1965), with a ground-breaking version of Dvorák's Symphony No. 8. The recording was produced by Decca's Ray Minshull, and began a unique creative partnership. Future projects with the LSO were enhanced by Kenneth Wilkinson's matchless ability as a Decca sound engineer, and a fruitful relationship between conductor and record label was thus established.

If one composer dominates István Kertész's work in London for Decca, it is Dvorák. Symphonies 7 & 8 are included in this collection, along with the Requiem: "The hero of the occasion is Kertesz... It is abundantly evident that he cherishes a great love for this work... This is certainly the finest performance of [The Requiem] that I have ever heard" Gramophone (original review). Kertész's complete recordings of Dvorák with the LSO have been reissued as a Decca Collectors Edition (478 6459 [9 CDs].

The present collection also features examples of the conductor's collaborations with three major pianists spanning several generations: Clifford Curzon, Julius Katchen and Vladimir Ashkenazy. A further benchmark disc includes Barry Tuckwell's performances of horn concertos by Richard Strauss and his father. It became a reference point for brass players worldwide.


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