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Carl Schuricht Collection II - Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart: Historic Recordings 1951-66
Lucretia West (alto): Roman Schimmer (violin)
SDR Orchestra/Carl Schuricht
rec. 1951-66
Full track-listing below
HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 93.292 [11:00:00]

This is the second release in Hänssler’s Schuricht collection. The first [93.140] contained a feast of 20 CDs and a single DVD and covered the years 1950 to 1966. The archive bounty continues with this latest box set which consists of a more manageable 10 CDs of which the last contains examples of the conductor in rehearsal.
Most of the pieces performed were central to Schuricht’s - or indeed many conductors’ - repertoire, given that there are symphonies by Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. The rarities here are few; Günter Raphael’s Sinfonia breve has already been released elsewhere - indeed I’ve reviewed it - which only really leaves Robert Oboussier’s Violin Concerto, of which more below.
There’s no question that if you admire Schuricht then you will be intrigued to hear those performances that stand as an appendix to his Parisian cycle of the Beethoven symphonies - albeit in this set we hear only Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6. These traversals with the orchestra he conducted so often at the time, that of Stuttgart Radio, come from a span of just under a decade. No.1 was taped in 1961, the Eroica in 1952, No.4 in 1959, No.5 in 1953 and the Pastoral in 1957. The location was usually either the Villa Berg or the Liederhalle - though in the case of the Eroica they were taped in Waldheim Degerloch. As ever his Beethoven contains no extraneous incident, and as the Eroica demonstrates no overly rhetorical gestures, just a serious-minded, well-proportioned and well-characterised performance. In the case of the Fifth - stirring, powerful - his intensity in the slow movement is greater than the Paris reading. His Pastoral is warm, and flexible, but disciplined. It’s a bit of a shame about the horn cracks, but maybe they were tiring. Inevitably some executant misfortunes are apparent in the course of these many hours of live performances.
His Brahms is represented by three symphonies. No.1 is measured in its tread but has a compelling Allegretto. No.3 has real structural integrity, not least in the compellingly argued finale, whilst in No.4 Schuricht, as in the First, again holds back tension at the start. As usual he’s holding things in reserve but despite the appealing slow movement doubters may not be wholly convinced and may well prefer the commercial discography in the case of the Fourth.
Other attractive symphonic statements include a stylish Schubert Fifth Symphony and an excellent Schumann 3 to stand beside his Decca studio recording. This live Stuttgart version is buoyant and idiomatic.
There’s a characterful Strauss Sinfonia domestica from 1960, and in Brahms’s Alto Rhapsody he’s joined by the first class Lucretia West; Schuricht’s Brahms is completed by a competent traversal of the Tragic Overture. CD 7 has a mélange of things, as Weber overtures preface Wolf’s bucolic Italian Serenade. This in turn prefaces Tchaikovsky’s glowering Hamlet, in which brooding intensity is strongly to the fore. Boris Blacher’s Concertante Music for Orchestra is far more enjoyable and colourful than the somewhat po-faced title would suggest. La Mer is not propulsive - somewhat the contrary in fact - though it is a little scrappily played. Raphael’s Sinfonia breve is worth a listen and the transfer doesn’t differ markedly from the one I reviewed elsewhere. The soloist in Robert Oboussier’s Violin Concerto is Roman Schimmer. The music seems to want to be neo-classical, but decides to end grandiloquently. Schimmer plays this rather personality-lacking music well. It’s good to hear Liszt’s expansive Ce qu’on entend sur la montagne in so convincing a performance as this, which is full of excitement and drama. Similarly he has just the right ‘tone’ for Reger’s Variations and Fugue on a theme by Johann Adam Hiller and on the basis of this performance I’d put him on a par with Joseph Keilberth. The last disc, which is in stereo, is the rehearsal one; Brahms’ Second Symphony, and Parsifal. Schuricht is a patient but thoughtful guide throughout, his rehearsal methods proving reflective of the superior music-making to be heard in this set.
This may be a specialist box but it continues the fine archival work that Hänssler is carrying out on behalf of the conductor.
Jonathan Woolf    

Masterwork Index: Sinfonia domestica ~~ La Mer ~~ Schumann symphony 3 ~~ Brahms symphonies ~~ Beethoven symphonies

CD 1 [69:34]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op.21 (1800) [23:29]
Symphony No. 3 in E Flat, Op. 55, Eroica (1803) [45:56]
CD 2 [65:09]
Symphony No. 4 in B Flat, Op. 60 (1806) [33:47]
Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op.67 (1807) [31:22]
CD 3 [61:57]
Symphony No. 6 in F, Op.68, Pastoral (1808) [37:29]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Symphony No.5 in B flat major, D.485 (1816) [24:28]

CD 4 [77:42]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Symphony No. 1 in C minor Op.68 (1876) [42:55]
Symphony No. 3 in F Op.90 (1883) [34:47]
CD 5 [69:30]
Symphony No. 4 in E minor Op.98 (1885) [43:46]
Alto Rhapsody, Op.53 [12:16]
Tragic Overture in D minor, Op.81 [13:08]
CD 6 [71:59]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 97, Rhenish (1850) [29:44]
Richard STRAUSS (1864 - 1949)
Symphonia domestica Op.53 TrV 209 [42:05]

CD 7 [60:51]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Euryanthe; Overture(1823) [8:46]
Oberon; overture [9:32]
Italian Serenade [7:17]
Hamlet, fantasy overture Op.67 [19:05]
Donna Diana; overture [5:44]
Concertante Music for Orchestra, Op.10 [9:42]
CD 8 [58:37]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
La Mer (1905) [23:28]
Sinfonia breve, Op.67 [21:20]
Violin Concerto [13:29]
CD 9
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Ce qu’on entend sur la montagne [27:30]
Variations and Fugue on a theme by Johann Adam Hiller, Op.100 [39:54]
CD 10
Rehearsals of Brahms [17:48] and Wagner [32:20]