The Vienna Philharmonic
was on an American tour under Schuricht and Cluytens when
this broadcast was taped, live at the United Nations General
Assembly New York, on Human Rights Day in December 1956.
The resultant performances do not, itís true, add materially
to Schurichtís discography but do find him and the orchestra
in a decidedly unusual locale.
a Schuricht VPO Haffner on EMI 75130, a Great Conductors
of the Century compilation, that sounds not dissimilar
to this New York performance. Schuricht is rather closer
to Szellís aerated and forward-moving 1960 performance, now
newly varnished on Sony, than Beechamís live 1958 BBC reading Ė to
take just two almost contemporaneous performances by leading
Mozartians of the day. The rather glassy and one-dimensional
New York recording robs the orchestra of timbral depth but
does impart a certain astringent drama to the proceedings.
I think Schuricht cedes to Szell in the slow movement; Szell
points with great sagacity and flair, whereas Schuricht sounds
rather breathless and very occasionally relaxes the basic
Beethoven Seventh Symphony receives a reading of comparable
sanity and freedom from exaggeration. Itís cleanly articulated,
quite quick and has a decisive sense of direction. Schuricht
retained this sense of intensity and control over tempo relationships
into old age as numerous documents attest. The earlier 1952
Seventh with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony (Hšnssler Classics 93.141) demonstrates
similar virtues though there the playing is less on the note
than that of the Vienna Philharmonic. Both performances seem
to me to be highly persuasive examples of a conductor in
full control of orchestral material, allowing the music to
unfold with necessary tension combined with an inner spirit
of genuine power and moving intensity. If I prefer the Stuttgart
performance itís not by a great deal; the sonics are rather
muffled but the New York performance is glassy and flat.
One will need to seek beyond these limitations.
Mendelssohn and Egmont bookend the programme appealingly.
There are no notes, as is usual from this source. Schuricht
admirers however can look favourably on this release; it
was an unusual and unlikely location but he led the Vienna
orchestra with surety and command.
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Seen & Heard