I have heard it said
that it is much easier to criticise
a disc than praise it. With this disc
I have the more difficult task. A happily
smiling photograph of the conductor
looks out on the world from the cover
of this disc. If I had to sum up these
performances in a word, the word would
be – happy.
The Vienna Philharmonic
also has the reputation of being very
unforgiving with conductors it doesn’t
like. The aural evidence is that Kertesz
and the VPO had a very easy time working
together. I am reminded of the orchestra’s
own insistence on finishing the last
variation of Brahms’ Haydn Variations
without a conductor after Kertesz’s
death out of respect for the conductor.
He was drowned in the eastern Mediterranean,
taking a weekend break in Israel during
the sessions for the Brahms cycle with
These are modern performances
through and through – no over-rapid
tempi, no raucous sounding instruments
- although this is somewhat less of
a problem than it was when these discs
were originally produced. Tempi are
distinctly middle of the road, with
no out of place surprises, and the quality
of the orchestral playing is incredibly
fine, with blending being almost perfect.
To a lot of us music
lovers this will mean pure unalloyed
pleasure and so it is throughout. We
have in this disc further proof of the
enlightened attitude towards classical
re-issues being carried out ‘down-under’.
I believe that these performances have
been unavailable on CD for some time
in the UK and USA ... if ever.
What I would dearly
love to see now is a re-issue of the
extended ballet suite from Tchaikovsky’s
Swan Lake, recorded by the Amsterdam
Concertgebouw Orchestra (as it was then),
conducted by Anatole Fistoulari. I have
given up writing to Decca in the UK
with this suggestion, and maybe the
message will get through to the powers
that be in Australia that this absolutely
first class recording, like many others
is lying in the archive, waiting for
someone with a bit of musical understanding
to make some of us very happy.
The current disc, issued
alongside a couple of others of further
Mozart symphonies should awaken collectors
to both the excellence of the young
Kertesz in this repertoire, and to the
quality of the playing and response
of the mighty Vienna Philharmonic.
Throughout all these
three symphonies, there are constant
reminders of imaginative playing with
a flick of the rhythm here and there
showing very clearly that these are
not just run-throughs, but well thought
out performances in their own right.
The only problem that
I can see is their distance from the
UK market; many collectors still balk
at ordering their ‘fix’ beyond the UK
even in today’s internet environment.
With these incredibly low prices and
excellent delivery arrangements there
is no reason for not trying these discs.
The only problem I have found with obtaining
these is HM Customs who seem to be lying
in wait to slap import duty on unsuspecting
packages. Allied to this, the Post Office,
bless them, then apply a handling fee
which is as much as or more than the
duty. These draconian activities can
be brought under control by ordering
in batches of no more than four discs.
These should pass through unheeded.
With the vast extent of repertoire being
offered at suitably silly prices, there
really is no excuse.
Very highly recommended,
and a feather in the hat of Australian