Brahms: Symphonies Nos. 1-4; Serenades Nos. 1 & 2; Haydn Variations

Brahms: Symphonies Nos. 1-4; Serenades Nos. 1 & 2; Haydn Variations
István Kertész
Catalogue No.

There have been many recordings of the Brahms symphonies but few have the passion, vitality and drive of István Kertész’s Vienna Philharmonic cycle. This 4CD collection brings together all of Kertész’s Brahms recordings for Decca. The two Serenades were recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra. His Wiener Philharmoniker Brahms cycle began in May 1964 with a recording of the Second Symphony and continued in 1972-73 with the remaining symphonies and the Variations on a theme of Haydn. Recording of the Variations commenced on 1st  March, 1972 and upon Kertész’s passing (16th April, 1973), the orchestra completed the recording on 14th May ,1973, conductor-less, in his memory.


CD 1
Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
5Variations on a theme by Haydn, Op. 56a

CD 2
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73

CD 3
Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90
Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98

Wiener Philharmoniker
István Kertész

CD 4
Serenade No. 1 in D major, Op. 11
Serenade No. 2 in A major, Op. 16

London Symphony Orchestra
István Kertész

Recording information

Recording Producers: Christopher Raeburn (Symphonies Nos. 1, 3 & 4, Variations); Ray Minshull (Symphony No. 2, Serenade No. 1); Erik Smith (Serenades)
BalanceEengineers: James Lock (Symphonies Nos. 1, 3 & 4, Variations); Gordon Parry (Symphony No. 2, Serenade No. 1); Kenneth Wilkinson (Serenade No. 2),
Recording Locations: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, May 1964 (Symphony No. 2), November 1972 (Symphony No. 4), February 1973 (Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3), March & May 1973 (Variations); Kingsway Hall, London, October 1967 (Serenade No. 1), December 1967 (Serenade No. 2)


‘The playing and the recording are gorgeous—just listen to the way the oboe steals in as if from nowhere for its main solo in the slow movement’ (Symphony No. 1) Gramophone

‘This is a really excellent performance  … This orchestra plays marvellously’ [Symphony No. 2] Gramophone

‘Kertesz’s is an exemplary reading of the Fourth Symphony’ Gramophone

‘[The Symphonies] are superbly played by the Vienna Philharmonic and this account of No. 3 is deeply musical, unaffected and natural, distinguished by warm string tone and eloquent wind playing. The winds blend beautifully, even the somewhat thin Viennese oboe tone sounds splendidly expressive … The recording is exceptionally well-balanced; it has just the right perspective and the relationship between wind and the rest of the orchestra, which seems to baffle many balance engineers these days, could not be more musically or naturally judged. The same goes for the ‘St. Antoni Variations’, the last part of which was recorded in Kertesz’s much lamented absence.’ Gramophone

‘the VPO plays this music as if it was written for it’ Classical Net

The Penguin Guide has nominated Kertész’s recordings of the Brahms Serenades as one of the 1000 Finest Classical recordings ever made.