Hans Richter-Haaser;  Istvan Kertesz   (Testament SBT 1299)
Item# P0164
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Hans Richter-Haaser;  Istvan Kertesz   (Testament SBT 1299)
P0164. HANS RICHTER-HAASER, w.Kertész Cond. Philharmonia Orch.: Concerto #4 in G; Emperor Concerto #5 in E-flat (both Beethoven). (Austria) Testament Stereo SBT 1299, recorded 1960. Final copy! - 749677129927

CRITIC REVIEWS:

“Hans Richter-Haaser became a pupil of Hans Schneider at the Dresden Academy of Music, where he won the Bechstein Prize when he was 18. He made his début in Dresden (1928), and thereafter performed throughout Germany and worked as a freelance pianist, conductor and composer until 1939. During World War II, where he had to serve the German Wehrmacht from the first to the last day of the World War II, he had no opportunity to play for years on end, while fighting with an anti-aircraft unit, and his technique slipped; however, he regained it after the war. Other than Kempff, Gieseking or Rummel, he wasn’t included to the German God-gifted list assembled by Goebbels and Hitler. A prisoner of war at the end, he resumed playing in U.S. military hospitals and later conducted orchestras in several small German towns.

In 1946 he moved to Detmold where he took over the artistic direction of the city orchestra. But by 1947 he had already been entrusted with a piano masterclass and became professor in 1953. This must be seen as a substantial foundation for the rank and renown of the Detmold Music Academy, and he hold this position until 1963. In 1949, he returned to the concert circuit and in the ensuing years his recitals in London, Paris, The Hague and other European capitals, performances at the Edinburgh Festival, and appearances with orchestras under such famous conductors Karajan, Böhm, Paray, Jochum, Fricsay and Sawallisch soon earned him a post-war reputation as one of Europe’s foremost pianists in the spectral romantic traditions, preceded by a reputation throughout Europe as the successor of Gieseking and Backhaus.

His American début in 1959 clearly proved him to be one of the biggest keyboard talents to arrive in Manhattan in years. His recital a year later at Carnegie Hall on 12 December, his only New York recital of the season, Herr Richter-Haaser played a program of Schubert, Beethoven, Liszt and Debussy. Three elements of his controlled and sensitive touch were evident in the Schubert c-minor Sonata (Opus Posth.). In the Liszt Ballade #2 in b minor, the pianist produced a wonderfully clear, pure and sometimes ringing tone. In the impressionistic ‘L’lsle Joyeuse’ by Debussy, he carried off the soaring scale passages with marked clarity of tone and apparent ease. Beethoven’s ‘Fantasia in g minor’ followed. The most distinctive and attractive trait in Herr Richter-Haaser’s tone was brought out in the Beethoven Sonata, in A-Flat Major, Op. 110 - a piercing, sonorous, ringing quality.

His recordings are however, sadly, few and far between. He also was a composer of 2 piano concerti, chamber music, piano pieces, and songs.

Richter-Haaser died in Braunschweig on 13 December, 1980, aged 68.”

- Michael Waiblinger





"An inordinately gifted conductor, Istvan Kertesz died at age 43 in a tragic drowning off the Israeli coast. He had already reached full maturity as a musician, proving his worth in opera, oratorio, and the symphonic repertory. His interests were wide-ranging, including works from the Classical and Romantic periods and large portions of twentieth century music.

Beginning with private lessons in childhood, Kertesz studied piano and violin. He continued with violin training at the Ferenc Liszt Academy in Budapest, adding composition under the supervision of such teachers as Weiner and Kodaly. He pursued his conducting studies with Laszlo Somogyi, at the same time benefiting from studying the performances of Otto Klemperer, who was then working at the Hungarian State Opera. In 1953, Kertesz was appointed resident conductor at Gyor, two years later transferring his activities to Budapest, where he was hired as coach and conductor. Following the political uprising and Soviet response in 1956, Kertesz moved with his family to Germany, subsequently acquiring German citizenship.

From 1958 to 1963, Kertesz was general music director at Augsburg. His British debut took place with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1960, followed by appearances with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1961. His American debut came with a tour with the NDR Symphony Orchestra in 1961, during which he made a positive impression on American audiences and critics alike. An appointment as general music director in Cologne came in 1964, and 1966 brought both a Covent Garden début, directing UN BALLO IN MASCHERA. A global tour with the London Symphony Orchestra led to his succeeding Pierre Monteux as LSO principal conductor in 1966. In 1971, he became music director of Cologne's Gurzenich-Orchester, a position he held until his death two years later.

Kertesz was decidedly non-interventionist as a conductor. With scrupulous attention to the composer's directions, his interpretations were more remarkable for sound musicianship than for striking individualism. Still, his performances often held high drama, and he was intentional about advocacy of works he believed in which, in light of his broad interests, were numerous. At Cologne, he presented the German premiere of Verdi's STIFFELIO as well as Mozart's LA CLEMENZA DI TITO (a work he recorded in its first complete edition on disc).

For Decca, Kertesz recorded a superb BLUEBEARD'S CASTLE with Christa Ludwig and Walter Berry, still unsurpassed after several decades. His complete recordings of the Dvorak, Brahms, and Schubert symphonies still enjoy honorable places among the best versions committed to disc. The first Western recording of Kodaly's HARY JANOS (the complete opera) was made with the London Symphony under Kertesz's direction. The Decca label coupling of Dvorak's REQUIEM and Kodaly's PSALMUS HUNGARICUS is another fitting tribute to a superb artist too soon departed.

In addition to Bartok, Kertesz was an indefatigable champion of works by Stravinsky, Henze, and Britten. Britten's BILLY BUDD was first presented to German audiences under Kertesz 's baton and he directed the first performance of the WAR REQUIEM heard in Vienna. For Ravinia Festival audiences, Kertesz directed the WAR REQUIEM with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Chorus shortly before his death. With soloists Phyllis Curtin, Robert Tear, and John Shirley-Quirk, the conductor's shattering interpretation left audience members limp."

- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com