_Conductors – Kertesz

Smetana and Dvorak – Bohemian Rhapsody

More of the Music of Smetana

More Orchestral Spectaculars

  • We can honestly say we have never heard these wonderfully melodic works played with more verve and skill
  • Nor have we heard any performances with better sound – this may be a budget Decca reissue, but as some of you Hot Stamper fans have discovered, it is not unusual for these later Deccas to beat the originals
  • And note that this pressing is no spring chicken — it’s almost 50 years old
  • This copy has many condition issues — if it didn’t sound as amazing as it does we wouldn’t bother listing it, but it does!
  • The original Decca and London pressings are rare and expensive, but if you one, you really owe it to yourself to hear just how good this pressing sounds
  • “The performances of The Bartered Bride extracts have all of the necessary sparkle and verve, while Kertesz’s credentials as a Dvorák conductor are second to none.”
  • Another Must Own Title from 1962. Other recommended titles from 1962 can be found here.

Sometimes the copy with the best sound is not the copy with the quietest vinyl. The best-sounding copy is always going to win the shootout, the condition of its vinyl notwithstanding. If you can tolerate the problems on this pressing you are in for some amazing Grateful Dead music and sound. If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.


This record shows off vintage Decca sound at its best. The full range of colors of the orchestra are here presented with remarkable clarity, dynamic contrast, spaciousness, sweetness, and timbral accuracy.

If you want to demonstrate to a novice listener why modern recordings are so consistently unsatisfactory, all you have to do is play this record for them. No CD ever sounded like this.

The richness of the strings, a signature sound for Decca in the Fifties and Sixties, is on display here for fans of the classical Golden Age. It’s practically impossible to hear that kind of string sound on any recording made in the last thirty years (and this of course includes practically everything pressed on Heavy Vinyl).

It may be a lost art but as long as we have these wonderful vintage pressings to play it’s an art that is not lost on us. I don’t think the Decca engineers could have cut this record much better — it has all the orchestral magic one could ask for, as well as the clarity and presence that are missing from so many other vintage Golden Age records. (more…)

Dvorak / Symphony No. 9 – An Overview of Decca’s Recordings

This commentary was written close to a decade ago, when we were first trying to figure out which pressings and performances of the work were worth pursuing.

Please to enjoy.

We got off to a rough start with this piece of music. The early pressings we played were often sonically uninspiring, and that’s being charitable.

The London pressings with Kubelik (CS 6020) that we had thought were competitive with some of the better recordings we had on hand turned out to be disappointing. The strings were often hard and shrill, the overall sound crude and full of tube smear.

These Londons cost us a pretty penny owing to the high quality condition we require them to be in for our shootouts. In the end, all that time, effort and money was for naught. A big chunk of dough was headed down the drain.

The Stereo Treasury pressing of this same performance sounded better to us than any of the Bluebacks we played but far from competitive with the recordings we ended up preferring.

The Londons and Deccas from 1967 with Kertesz conducting the LSO also left much to be desired sonically. After hearing the 9th on both London and Decca, we did a quick needle drop on the other symphonies from the complete cycle that Kertesz conducted and concluded that none of them were worth our time.

The trade-in pile was growing ever taller.

Then some good news came our way when we dropped the needle on the Decca/London recording with Mehta and the LA Phil. Our best London sounded shockingly good, much better than the one Decca pressing we had on hand.

His 8th Symphony (CS 6979) is also quite good by the way.

This is surprising because we rarely like anything by Mehta and the LA Phil. from this period — the recording in question is from 1975 — but of course we are happy to be surprised when the recordings sound as good as the ones we played.

The one that seemed to us to be the best balance of sound and performance was conducted by Istvan Kertesz, but not with the LSO.

His recording with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1961, his debut for Decca as a matter of fact, is the one that ended up winning our shootout of a dozen pressings or so.

You may be aware that Speakers Corner remastered this recording  in the ’90s. We carried it and recommended it highly back in the day when we carried those kinds of records.

We prefer a later pressing of the recording though, not the original. You can find the one we like on this very blog by doing a quick search for the music of Dvorak.

Here are more reviews of music conducted by Kertesz, a man whose work we very much admire.

(more…)

Shostakovich / Symphony No. 5 – Kertesz

More of the music of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

More Imported Pressings on Decca and London

  • This stunning classical release makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides of this early London UK pressing
  • The sound of the orchestra is dramatically richer and sweeter than you will hear on most pressings — what else would you expect from Decca’s engineers and the Suisse Romande?
  • The sound here is glorious, full of all of the qualities that make listening to classical music in analog so involving

(more…)

Strauss / Horn Concertos – Tuckwell / Kertesz – A Top Copy from 2009

More vintage Decca/London recordings currently available

This is a fairly quiet 1967 Decca British LP with lovely sound. It’s tonally Right On The Money. The strings have lovely texture. The horn has a nice smooth quality, just like the real thing.

A solid record, guaranteed to beat the pants off the Speakers Corner 180 gram pressing, which is not a bad record, just not remotely as good as this one.

FURTHER READING

The sonic signature of the modern Heavy Vinyl Classical Reissue in Four Words: Diffuse, Washed Out, Veiled, and Vague 

Dvorak / Symphony #1 / Kertesz / LSO – A Bit Too Smooth

Hot Stamper Classical and Orchestral Imports on Decca & London

Reviews and Commentaries for Recordings by Decca

This is an IMMACULATE London LP with the old style paste-on back cover. We cracked open the factory seal just to make sure that this was a British pressing.

As we’ve said before, Kertesz is the Dvorak man! He recorded the complete cycle for London; many of those LPs have superb performances and excellent sound.

We dropped the needle momentarily on this title and heard sound that was overly smooth for my taste. If you like your records on the smooth side, this should do the trick.

Kodaly / Hary Janos Suite / Kertesz – Reviewed in 2010

This is a SUPERB recording, a real sleeper in the world of audiophile pressings. The sound is as BIG, BOLD and DYNAMIC as practically any classical record you can name. And the distortion level is vanishingly small as well. 

This British pressing has an AMAZING SIDE ONE (A++) backed with an excellent side two (A+), both on very quiet vinyl.

I’m a fan of this music and here’s a pressing that really delivers. Side one of the album has the complete Suite, and with Super Hot Stamper sound this copy is guaranteed to knock you out.

One of the top Kertesz recordings on London.

Engineering

Kenneth Wilkinson engineered this album for Decca in 1965.

What makes the sound of these recordings so special is the timbral accuracy of the instruments in every section.

This is the kind of record that will make you want to take all your heavy vinyl classical pressings and put them in storage. They cannot begin to sound the way this record sounds. (Before you put them in storage or on Ebay please play them against this pressing so that you can be confident in your decision to rid yourself of their mediocrity.)

Quality record production is a lost art, and it’s been lost for a very long time.

Speakers Corner remastered the recording (seen here) in the ’90s and I believe we carried it back in the day, which means that the sound had to at least be acceptable, if not in fact very good. We played all their releases for sound and only carried the ones we thought met our standards, standards which have obviously changed radically since then.

I doubt we would care for their Heavy Vinyl LP now, but you never know, that was a long time ago.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Hary Janos Suite

1. Prelude — The Fairy Tale Begins
2. Viennese Musical Clock
3. Song
4. The Battle and Defeat of Napoleon
5. Intermezzo
6. Entrance of the Emperor and His Court

Side Two

Dances of Galanta
Arias from Hary Janos

1. Szegeny Vagyok
2. Hej Ket Tikom

Bartok / Piano Concerto No. 3 / Kertesz / Katchen – Reviewed in 2009

More of the music of Bela Bartok (1881-1945)

This Super Rare original London pressing has EXCELLENT SOUND and lovely music.

The piano is especially well recorded, with the orchestra exhibiting the patented lovely, rich, rossiny string tone, with tons of depth and spaciousness to the sound.

This is the first copy of the album I have run into, and my first exposure to the Bartok Piano Concerto, which is actually wonderful.

Brahms and Dvorak / Serenades / Kertesz – Reviewed in 2011

This London Whiteback LP (CS 6594) has Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, which is where the Dvorak Serenade for 10 wind instruments, cello and bass can be found. It has lovely space and depth, with dead on tonality and lots of Tubey Magic.

If you love the sound of wind instruments (and who doesn’t? British Band Classics springs immediately to mind as one of the most enjoyable classical recordings I own), then this just may be the classical chamber recording for you. (more…)

Dvorak / Symphony No. 9 / Kertesz / Vienna Phil. – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

Presenting yet another remarkable Demo Disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology, in this case 1961, with the added benefit of mastering courtesy of the more modern equipment of the ’70s, in this case 1970. (We are of course here referring to the good modern equipment of 40 years ago, not the bad modern mastering equipment of today.) 

Dvorák draws the musical threads together in the last movement, weaving new material with moods and themes from previous movements into a grand finale that resulted in extended cheering from the New York audience at its December 1893 premiere.

The New York critic W. J. Henderson raved: “It is a great symphony and must take its place among the finest works in the form produced since the death of Beethoven.”

This combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on either of these Super Hot sides. And the 1970 British vinyl plays mostly Mint Minus!

Side One

A++ to A+++, just shy of the sound of White Hot shootout winning side. The hall is huge, so wide and deep, spacious and open. The perspective is above all natural. A little more extension up top and this side would have been impossible to beat.

Solid, powerful tympani whacks — listen for them. Sweet woodwinds too. (more…)