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Carl Schuricht in New York
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Egmont Overture Op.84 (1810) [8:46]
Symphony No.7 in A major Op.92 (1826) [34:01]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Symphony No.35 in D major K385 Haffner (1782) [17:10]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Scherzo from A Midsummer Nightís Dream Op. 61 (1843) [4:37]
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Carl Schuricht
rec. United Nations General Assembly. New York, 10 December 1956. ADD
ARCHIPEL ARPCD0352 [64:39]

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.
Thereís 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 pulse.
The 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.
The 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.
Jonathan Woolf



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