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Dvorak: The Symphonies & Tone Poems (Decca Collectors Edition) Box set, Collector's Edition


Price: £28.79 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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£28.79 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details In stock. Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Product details

  • Audio CD (10 Feb 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 9
  • Format: Box set, Collector's Edition
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B00H5DNAPM
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 84,250 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Product Description

This set brings together for the first time all of István Kertész's pioneering and highly acclaimed Dvorák recordings made with the London Symphony Orchestra for Decca.

'... this cycle continues to set the standard by which others are judged.'
Gramophone Good CD Guide

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Fowler TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Jun 2014
Istvan Kertesz and the London Symphony recorded all the Dvorak Symphonies for Decca Records between 1963 and 1966.
These were the first stereo recordings of Symphonies 1 - 4.
They created quite a stir at the time (I was an impoverished teenager, but my local library acquired each new Kertesz LP as it came out).
Supraphon had already released dim sounding mono recordings with the Prague Symphony, but their LP pressings were ghastly, so the Kertesz LPs in gorgeous Kingsway Hall stereo were a revelation.

Until then, Dvorak was thought to have composed only Five Symphonies.
Symphony 6 had been published as Symphony 1 (Symphony 7 was Symphony 2 , Symphony 5 was Symphony 3),
so these new Kertesz recordings were a Big Deal in the classical music world.

The Symphonies have since been re-numbered, and complete sets of the Nine are no longer a Big Deal.

The Dvorak/Kertesz recordings were issued as a budget-priced box in 1992, and have never been out of the CD catalog.
The new booklet makes no claims about re-mastered sound.
I'm pretty sure the 1992 masterings were used, especially as the layout of CDs 1-6 is identical.
Whatever the masterings, the sound is warm and clear.

This new box adds three CDs worth of Dvorak (CDs 7-9).
-- All the Dvorak that Istvan Kertesz recorded with the London Symphony before his untimely death at age 43.
These recordings are his Memorial:

CDs 1-6: Symphonies 1-9
_______ My Home Overture, Op.62
_______ Scherzo Capriccioso, Op.66
_______ In Nature's Realm Overture, Op.91
_______ Carnival Overture, Op.92

CD 7___ Symphonic Variations, Op.78
_______ Husitská (Hussite) Overture, Op.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
First recording of All Dvorak's Symphonies 18 Jun 2014
By John Fowler - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Istvan Kertesz and the London Symphony recorded all the Dvorak Symphonies for Decca Records between 1963 and 1966.
These were the first stereo recordings of Symphonies 1 - 4.
They created quite a stir at the time (I was an impoverished teenager, but my local library acquired each new Kertesz LP as it came out).
Supraphon had already released dim sounding mono recordings with the Prague Symphony, but their LP pressings were ghastly, so the Kertesz LPs in gorgeous Kingsway Hall stereo were a revelation.

Until then, Dvorak was thought to have composed only Five Symphonies.
Symphony 6 had been published as Symphony 1 (Symphony 7 was Symphony 2 , Symphony 5 was Symphony 3),
so these new Kertesz recordings were a Big Deal in the classical music world.

The Symphonies have since been re-numbered, and complete sets of the Nine are no longer a Big Deal.

The Dvorak/Kertesz recordings were issued as a budget-priced box in 1992, and have never been out of the CD catalog.
The new booklet makes no claims about re-mastered sound.
I'm pretty sure the 1992 masterings were used, especially as the layout of CDs 1-6 is identical.
Whatever the masterings, the sound is warm and clear.

This new box adds three CDs worth of Dvorak (CDs 7-9).
-- All the Dvorak that Istvan Kertesz recorded with the London Symphony before his untimely death at age 43.
These recordings are his Memorial:

CDs 1-6: Symphonies 1-9
_______ My Home Overture, Op.62
_______ Scherzo Capriccioso, Op.66
_______ In Nature's Realm Overture, Op.91
_______ Carnival Overture, Op.92

CD 7___ Symphonic Variations, Op.78
_______ Husitská (Hussite) Overture, Op.67
_______ The Water Goblin, Symphonic Poem, Op.107
_______ The Golden Spinning Wheel, Op.109

CD 8___ Requiem, Op.89 (beginning)

CD 9___ Requiem, Op.89 (conclusion)
_______ Serenade for Wind in D minor, Op.44
_______ Othello Overture, Op.93
_______ The Noonday Witch, Op.108

WORLD-RECORD:
CD7 in the Kertesz box is 83 minutes and 29 seconds long.
Pretty sure this is a record.
It plays fine on my twenty-year old Sony Discman, and the sound seems uncompromised.
An impressive technical achievement, But was it necessary?
The other eight CDs range from 67:46 to 76:54.
All nine symphonies are squeezed onto the first 6 CDs, with Symphonies 2 and 5 split between discs.

I would have thought the math was obvious:
Each symphony complete on one CD
- actually Symphonies 7 and 8 would be on CD7, with CDs 8 and 9 devoted to Symphony 9 and the Requiem.
Shorter works distributed throughout the remaining CDs.
Oh, well.

NEVER-BEFORE HEARD MUSIC:
The scores for all Symphonies except 3, 7 and 8 have first movement exposition repeats.
Kertesz was the first conductor to observe them all.
To me, this doesn't matter in Symphonies 1, 2 and 5, which are simple da capo repeats,
but for Symphonies 4, 6 and 9, Dvorak went to the trouble of composing a bridge passage to join the two statements of the exposition.
Totally new Dvorak that you won't hear unless the repeat is observed. Kind of neat.

Symphony 4: bridge @ 2:35 to 2:52 (CD 3, track 1)
Symphony 6: bridge @ 3:51 to 4:07 (CD 4, track 2)
Symphony 9: bridge @ 4:53 to 4:55 (CD 6, track 1) - just two chords

I think Otto Klemperer was the first conductor to observe one of these repeats, in his 1963 recording of the 9th Symphony.
The first time I heard it, I thought something was wrong with the record.

COMPETITION:
Kertesz was not alone for long.
There were two additional, overlapping cycles of Dvorak's Nine Symphonies.
-- Philips recorded Witold Rowicki, who also observed exposition repeats, and also with the London Symphony, between 1965 and 1971.
A set that was overlooked at the time, but has recently been re-issued to favorable reviews: Dvorák: The Symphonies & Overtures (confusingly, it's now on the Decca label).
-- Finally, Raphael Kubelik, the greatest Czech conductor of the LP era, recorded it with the Berlin Philharmonic, 1966-1973, for Deutsche Gramophon: Dvorak: The 9 Symphonies *

Amazingly, all three CD boxes together cost less than the Kertesz LPs did when new.
There have been maybe a dozen sets of the Nine since then, but I will confine myself to the three pioneers
(I'm old and set in my ways).

The London Symphony for Kertesz, recorded in Kingsway Hall, sounds a lot more luxurious than it did for Rowicki, recorded in Wembley Town Hall.
Kertesz has a lot of room ambience which flatters the strings; Rowicki is more closely microphoned and detailed.

Rowicki excels in the early symphonies, which can sometimes seem over-long, and intermittently inspired.
He treats the music playfully, where Kertesz's more earnest approach can sound bombastic.
Its more of a toss-up in the mature symphonies.

Here I am going to state a preference for Raphael Kubelik, even though he omits the exposition repeats.
He has the advantage of the Berlin Philharmonic, recorded during the prime Karajan years.
Kubelik was a native Czech, Music Director of the Czech Philharmonic before leaving for the West in 1948,
He brings out the bounce and snap of Dvorak's Czech rhythms in a way that eludes the more generic Kertesz and Rowicki (try the finales of Symphonies 5 and 6).

Another advantage for Kubelik is his use of divided violins.
Kertesz and Rowicki bunch first and second violins together on the left, in the mid-Twentieth Century fashion.
Kubelik seats first and second violins on opposite sides of the orchestra, in the Nineteenth Century fashion that Dvorak had in mind when composing for orchestra (fun to listen to over headphones).

Even though I prefer Kubelik, I will still be keeping Kertesz or Rowicki for the exposition repeats (actually I'll probably keep them both).
Kubelik is my absolute stereo favorite for 7 of the 9 Symphonies.

For Symphony 7, I would choose Antal Dorati and the London Symphony: Dvorak: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8 - Dorati started out as a ballet conductor and this performance dances like no other.
For Symphony 9, I recommend Otto Klemperer and the Philharmonia Orchestra: Otto Klemperer: Romantic Symphonies - divided violins AND the exposition repeat.
And a weird sort of Nineteenth Century integrity.

* Kubelik is also available in Symphony Edition: Complete Symphonies of Beethoven, Dvorak, Mahler and Schumann (23 CDs).
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