Istvan Kertesz (1929-1973) was born into a Hungarian-Jewish, and he grew up taking violin lessons at a time “when terrible things were happening in Europe.” By the time Istvan was twelve, he had been mastering the piano as well. But Hungarian Jews were persecuted relentlessly, and many of his extended family members were sent to Auschwitz to be murdered. After the war, he resumed his studies in what is now the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, taking composition lessons with Kodaly and Leo Weiner. An interest in conducting led to studies with Laszlo Samogyi and Janos Ferencsik.
George Szell's Dvorák performances feature his customary blend of razor sharp orchestral discipline allied to a wholly idiomatic, singing line. - David Hurwitz
The late Alfred Schnittke has, after his death, been accused of writing too much music of variable quality. This debate is still raging although suffice to say that the Eighth Symphony truly is one of his greatest works and indeed, one of the great symphonic works of the latter twentieth century. The charge of oppressive asceticism laid against the Sixth and Seventh symphonies can hardly be held up to this expansive and frankly emotional work. It is as if Schnittke relaxed the skeletal sounds of his previous essays in the genre and, while not quite returning to the dazzling orchestral pyrotechnics of the Fifth Symphony (Concerto Grosso no. 4), creating a work of great sincerity and beauty. The first movement is an obsessive repetition of a wide-ranging (in pitch, not rhythm) melody, seemingly effortlessly varied to touch on all sections of the orchestra.
With its majestic themes soaring upwards like gothic pillars and its brilliant chorales and fanfares glowing like stained – glass windows, Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 is the most monumental of his orchestral works, a cathedral in sound that grows out of pianissimo murmurs. Coming after the triumphs celebrated by the composer’s Seventh Symphony and Te Deum, the Eight was considered by Bruckner as the artistic climax of his career. Cleveland‘s Severance Hall is the venue for this performance. This hall, an eclectic yet elegant mix of Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Classicism, Egyptian Revival and Modernism was inaugurated in 1931 and is still hailed today as one of the world‘s most beautiful concert halls. The Cleveland Orchestra, founded in 1918, began its ascent to the upper ranks of the world‘s ensembles after it moved to Severance Hall in 1931.
Combining the forces of two of the 20th century´s greatest musicians – Yehudi Menuhin and Herbert von Karajan in their only recorded performance together – this magnificent programme marks a high point in filmed classical music. Both features, Mozart´s Violin Concerto No. 5 and Dvorák´s “New World” Symphony, were directed by master film-maker and long-time Karajan collaborator Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear). Bonus: Herbert von Karajan in conversation with Yehudi Menuhin (on Mozart) and Prof. Joachim Kaiser (on Dvorák). Special bonus feature: Previously unreleased rehearsal session prior to Violin Concerto No. 5!
Pairing evergreen works by Dvorak and Mussorgsky, this superb video from Belvedere featuring the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under the incomparable Mariss Jansons is a musical feast. Ever since its world premiere at New York's Carnegie Hall on December 15, 1893, Dvorak's American-flavored Symphony No.9 has been a cornerstone of the orchestral repertoire. Similarly, thanks to Ravel's superb orchestration, Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition is a perennial audience favorite.
"…I've known and loved the Solti/CSO "New World" recording for years; it is now relegated to the re-gifting pile. If you are a Dvorak fan, buy this disc." ~sa-cd.net