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Reviews: Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 - Kertesz

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Reviews: 3

Review by flyingdutchman March 13, 2009 (11 of 17 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
If there is any recording that I would spend extra for, this is probably it. I know the $60 price tag leaves many gasping in horror. Is this what we've come to? $60 for something that is a little over $30 in Japan?

Well it is worth it! I might go out of my way to pay the same if Esoteric finally releases the Maag Mendelssohn 3rd, but barring that I will comment on this release.

The Kertesz Vienna Dvorak 9th is legendary. Some have panned it for not including the 1st movement repeat and that Kertesz rerecorded it with the LSO because he wasn't satisfied with his recording in Vienna. I say, HOGWASH!

This recording and version is in a word stupendous! I love the energy and drive and the beautiful slow movement is what it should be with all of its meltingly beautiful use of the oboe done to perfection. The remastering is done to perfection. There is no glare or sound restrictions that I would normally associate with an older recording and it outdoes any modern performance out there today.

I know many here won't want to spend the money for this, but if you happen to have the spare change hanging around, get it!

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Review by wolfE March 14, 2009 (10 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This first Kertesz-version of the „New World” with the Vienna Philharmonic is familiar to me for many years. For me it always has been the benchmark for the following recordings. When the young Kertesz made his first recording for Decca, he must have been in a very self-confident, powerful and agile mood. It is said that he did not like to study scores and made his preparations during the journey to the recording sessions. Maybe this is a subsequent legend and myth, but it would fit to this interpretation which reflects a fresh, dramatic and surprising access to the music, which has always been breath-taking for me. So I was very glad when I read that it would be part of the Esoteric Decca re-release series. Even though there already exist some satisfactory SACD-releases of this warhorse.
Now my impressions after listening and comparing with other recordings released on SA-CD: The careful DSD-remastering led to a satisfying result, shows the direct and full-bodied sound typical for early Decca-recordings. The timbre of the instruments is much more natural and analogue-like compared with my RBCD-copy (quite good “Weekend-classics” AAD-remastering). To me these Esoteric DSD-masters also sound much better than the former Universal Japan Decca re-issues mastered from high-bit-pcm copies, which in former reviews partially found enthusiastic acception, which I could not share at all. – In comparison with my Speakers Corner LP the SA-CD version sounds a bit brighter. The instruments are better focused; horns, woodwinds and violins do sound a bit more natural and less shrill in the SA-CD version (!!), soundstage and dynamics are equal (i.e. good!). Only advantage of the LP is the lightly bigger impact of the deep string section. – But in summary this is probably the best sounding “New World” on SA-CD. This means that, in my opinion, it easily surpasses all versions to which I had access: Fischer/Budapest/Philips, Reiner/Chicago/RCA Living Stereo, Bernstein/New York Philharmonic/Sony Japan, Szell/Cleveland/Sony, Kreizberg/Netherlands Philharmonic/Pentatone and also Järvi/Cincinnati/Telarc.
And what about the interpretation? Of course a thing of personal taste. Some of the mentioned recordings have lovely details. For example, I like the Bernstein-Largo, which in a review was characterized as too emotional and romantic, tending to kitch. Maybe, but I like it! And the Fischer or Järvi: Overall good interpretations, which I acclaimed when they were released. The Reiner (sorry!) and Kreizberg (sorry too) failed; maybe the Reiner-version suffers from the unusual bad recording; the Kreizberg is “not that bad”, but a bit boring. What could be worse?! None of these recordings achieves the fascinating vividness of the first Kertesz recording (I emphazise this, because his second approach to the symphony as part of the complete circle with the London Symphony is much less inspired, it sounds bombastic, that’s all. Dutiful result of a recording contract?)
So, in past and in future, this is my favorite “New World”, now on SA-CD! Sometimes the first love remains the best. Only disadvantage of this release: The high price! Nevertheless highly recommended!!

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Review by petrushka1975 March 22, 2012 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is a must-have recording from Esoteric's reissue program. The enormous emotional intensity is already evident a few bars into the first movement. Part of that can be attributed the earnestness and sense of mission Kertesz brings to the score -- this was the young conductor's debut for Decca. The best passages of the music have a noble, almost anthemic quality. Rather than building up slowly, the emotional intensity reaches the high watermark early on and is basically sustained all the way through the finale. A most tough act to follow. The slower, more reflective passages are also remarkable. The famous English horn solo in the second movement is rendered with a sense of longing that is most convincing yet totally honest and unsentimental. Sonically, there is some high frequency compression and distortion in the loud passages but they generally do not distract and only serve to remind you what a history making recording this is. The sound is otherwise quite flawless, sounding vast and limitless in energy. The bass is especially deep and taut.

In comparison, the version by Reiner / CSO in the Living Stereo series (available also on SACD) may be just as good from a musical/technical view point, and I'm not a very good judge of that. But from a purely emotional perspective, the present recording is unmatched by Reiner or quite possibly any other version out there. It is that good.

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