> SCHURICHT EMI Great Conductorss [CF]: Classical Reviews- May2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Great Conductors of the Twentieth Century

MENDELSSOHN Overture: Hebrides Op. 26
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8 in B minor Unfinished
MOZART Symphony No. 35 Haffner K385
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 1 Op. 21
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 8 in C minor
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire
Conductor: Carl Schuricht
Recorded in Paris and Vienna 1954-1963
EMI 7243 5 75130 2 9 [2CDs 145’45"]

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Carl Schuricht is relatively little known these days. He nevertheless finds a place in EMI Classics' Great Conductors of the Twentieth Century series (each volume of which proudly proclaims: ‘contains rare material previously unreleased on CD’). Schuricht certainly has a justifiable place in this pantheon.

He was essentially at ease in the German repertoire and with German orchestras. He often received a mixed reception in his day, mainly for some eccentricities of tempi. In recent years views have mellowed and his work more appreciated. He had an extensive recording career going way back to the acoustical era with the Berlin Municipal Orchestra and ending with LPs in the post-war years for Decca and EMI.

Here we hear him at his best with German/Austrian classical and romantic masters from Mozart to Bruckner. There’s a lightness of touch and fresh vigour to Mendelssohn’s overture. John Culshaw attested to Schuricht’s eleven attempts at the first movement alone of Schubert’s ‘Unfinished’ before he finally finished it. One would not think so judging by the eloquent lyricism he coaxes from the VPO - no eccentric tempi here. His Mozart is full of joy and sparkles along in a bright account, playing up the trumpets and drums in the first movement, drawing on Mozart’s beautiful lyricism in the Andante, followed by a stylish minuet and trio and a bustling finale. For Beethoven’s First Symphony the Salle Wagram is too resonant compared with Vienna venues such as the late and much lamented Sofiensaal which allowed the VPO’s sound its bloom without blurring the harmonic outlines of the music. Nevertheless it is a performance worth having, if not as valuable as Bruckner’s epic eighth on the second CD. Schuricht uses the Haas edition (with some minor alterations but fewer cuts than Nowak) and carves blocks of sound out of musical granite yet elicits warmth and eloquence in Bruckner’s second subjects. In his view of Bruckner he falls midway between the neuroses of Furtwängler and the veneer of Karajan; no bad thing really.

Christopher Fifield


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