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ICON Carl Schuricht [Box set]

Carl Schuricht Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 21.71 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Audio CD (3 Sep 2012)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 8
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B008I15774
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 92,461 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long missed classic recordings 7 Sep 2012
By A. Lin
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I missed the Beethoven cycle the first time around on CD. Leading the tonally unique Parisian orchestra with abundant vivacity and creativity, Schuricht had left us an evergreen document of Beethoven's genius and the interpreters' collective artistry. The mono and stereo sound is gloriously remastered. Urgently recommended.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buried Treasure 10 Oct 2012
By Johannes Climacus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Carl Schuricht was clearly one of the great masters of the podium, though his legacy remains underappreciated -- in part because he recorded less frequently than many of his contemporaries (e.g., Toscanini, Furtwängler, Böhm, Klemperer, Walter), and in part because his conductorial persona was more introverted than theirs. Schuricht never courted or cultivated cult status; his podium manners were as gentlemanly and undemonstrative as his interpretations are direct and unfussy. In general he favored brisk tempos, clearly articulated rhythmic patterns, finely shaped but never overinflected phrasing, and judicious orchestral balances (even in the biggest Brucknerian climaxes the brass are never allowed to blare).

Speaking of Bruckner, Schuricht is generally acknowledged as one of the finest interpreters of that composer, and these EMI recordings of the third, eighth and ninth symphonies with the VPO (then as now one of the very greatest Bruckner orchestras) amply supports that assessment. Schuricht's commercial recording of the third has not been readily available since the LP era (though there was a CD reissue on a minor label a number of years ago). It is a splendid interpretation: the opening conveys just the right atmosphere of mystery, of exalted expectation, and as the first movement proceeds, each climax is perfectly placed and graded. The architecture emerges more clearly than in most other versions I have heard. The raptures of the slow movement, on the other hand, are not overplayed; there is a discretion and a naturalness to Schuricht's exposition that completely avoids schmaltz (sometimes a risk when Brucknerian lyricism is overplayed); the relatively flowing tempo helps him in this regard. The scherzo is incisive, dramatic, but also playful as it should be. Since this is the 1889-90 text, the finale is severely truncated; but Schuricht manages to make the movement seem unified, expansive and a satisfying culmination to the work, avoiding any abruptness. And that great polka-chorale episode has never been so perfectly articulated or balanced (in my listening experience, anyway). The Eighth and Ninth share similar virtues. These are better-known recordings, having been reissued at least once before by EMI, and critics have usually responded favorably to them. Some listeners may find Schuricht's Ninth somewhat wanting in fervor; the great dissonant climaxes (such as the one occurring just before the coda of the third movement) are not as shattering as they can be with other conductors (Schuricht will seem downright tame when compared with Furtwängler or even Jochum). But this relative gentleness fits well within Schuricht's general conception of the work, which is more lyrical and open-hearted, even optimistic, than one usually hears. There can be no such reservations about Schuricht's Eighth, however. In this work the conductor gives a perfectly balanced exposition of the Nowak edition -- neither the agony nor the ecstasy allowed to dominate. To be sure the first movement broods effectively, the scherzo sweeps along rambustiously, the adagio carries the listener forward on a tide -- but not a tsunami -- of exaltation, and the finale is a cogent symphonic argument, not just a relentless juggernaut.

Altogether, a feast for Brucknerians, especially for those who are eager to hear a kinder, gentler approach to their favored composer.

As if this were not sufficient, we are also given a remarkable Beethoven cycle with a vintage French orchestra, captured while its distinctive, francophone timbres were still in full cry. Schuricht's approach to Beethoven is mobile, light-textured, sometimes hard-hitting, and rhythmically snappy at fairly brisk tempos. One is reminded most of Leibowitz and Ansermet in this composer, and not at all of Schuricht's German compatriots. If you resist ponderous Beethoven, but find Toscanini too harried and hectic, then Schuricht's cycle is for you. Yes, those francophone horns do sound disconcertingly like saxophones, and the trio of the Eroica's third movement adds unintentional hilarity to its athleticism as a result. But how often does one get to hear such characterful wind playing these days? As with any Beethoven cycle, there are strengths and weaknesses: the Ninth doesn't storm the heavens as much as I would like, and other conductors have given us more radiant accounts of no. 4 and the *Pastoral*. However, I regard Schuricht's *Eroica* as one of the very greatest on record (despite those vibrato-laden horns); nos. 2, 5 and 8 are not far behind: strong, trenchant, yet beautifully nuanced performances that will recall Weingartner to some listeners.

A Beethoven cycle to cherish, then.

As indicated, EMI has handled the remasterings particularly well; I don't recall that previous incarnations of the Bruckner 8 and 9 or the Beethoven cycle sounded quite this good. The packaging is what one has come to expect for EMI's Icon series -- a nice, sturdy slimline box, with a booklet, detailed track listings, and annotations that include a judicious appreciation of Schuricht's artistry.

If you haven't yet discovered that distinctive artistry, then here is a golden opportunity at a very affordable price!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy tribute to a neglected masestro 21 April 2013
By James A. Altena - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Carl Schuricht is far less well remembered than he should be. A conductor of the more "classical" school of interpretation, he nonetheless leaned a bit more toward the "romantic" school than did like-minded colleagues such as George Szell, which was all to the good. Apparently a humble man with strong institutional loyalties (both rare traits among podium maestros), he was content to remain and work with what were ranked second-tier institutions despite the recognition of his considerable interpretive gifts but his more famous colleagues, who held him in high esteem. His conducting was marked by clarity and transparency of textures, finely gauged balance of orchestral voices, fluidity of phrasing, a sense of spontaneity and simplicity (in the positive sense of that term), and great integrity, with close fidelity to the printed score.

This set brings together almost all of Schuricht's slender legacy for EMI -- his cycle of the Beethoven symphonies (partly monaural, partly stereo) with the Paris Conservatory Orchestra, and his three stereo Bruckner symphony recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic. Inexplicably, it omits recordings of a couple of Mozart symphonies and a violin concerto, also with the Vienna Philharmonic. (Some years back Decca release a five-CD set of his 1950s monaural recordings for that company, before it dropped him from its roster.) Although the Paris ensemble was rightly regarded as second-rate even at its best, Schuricht had a longstanding and fruitful relationship with it, and managed to coax results from it here considerably beyond its norm. These are wonderfully spirited and buoyant performances; Schuricht's approach to Beethoven is brisk, linear, and energetic. Those of the First, Second, Fourth, Sixth, and Seventh are almost playful; those of the Third, Fifth, Seventh, and Ninth create their drama by taut rhythmic drive instead of harmonic weightiness. If the Ninth is a more lightweight account than that to which we mostly are accustomed, it has many of the virtues of period instrument performances without any of their drawbacks, and a solo quartet that, despite the lack of leading vocalists (except for bass Gottlob Frick), performs far better than many nominally more stellar foursomes. For evenness of quality throughout, this is one of the best Beethoven cycles ever recorded; while no single performance ranks as a first choice, they are all very good, and unlike most sets there is not a single glaring weak link anywhere in it.

Schuricht's Bruckner has long been held in high regard; I am in a minority in being less fond of these recordings of the Eighth (uncharacteristically rushed compared to his surviving live performances) and Ninth (solid but not exciting). Those who disagree with me will naturally rate those recordings as a prime reason to acquire this set. On the other hand, Schuricht's Bruckner Third was my introduction to Bruckner on LP as a teenager, following a televised Leonard Bernstein discussion and performance of just the first movement. To this day I rank it alongside Eugen Jochum's DG recording as one of the two finest of this work ever made, a wonderfully dynamic performance that strips away accumulated layers of heavy varnish to reveal a Bruckner that has muscular litheness as well as transcendental power. (Extraordinarily, the work was not previously part of Schuricht's repertoire, and he learned it just to make this recording.)

EMI's Icon series is a super-budget edition that offers no new remasterings, though I am told that it re-licensed the studio version of the Beethoven Ninth back from the Testament label for this set. In any case, the price makes this an easy investment even on an experimental basis.

The Haenssler label has released two large boxed sets of 20 and 10 CDs (with many of those items also offered separately) of broadcast performances of Schuricht with his longtime ensemble, the Stuttgart Radio Symphony. Those contain many notable performances, including seven Beethoven symphonies (all but #2 and #8) and five Bruckner symphonies (#4, 5, 7, 8, 9). The Beethoven symphonies are generally very similar interpretively to the ones in this set, with slightly inferior playing and recorded sound. The Bruckner performances of the Eighth and Ninth are to me much more interesting than the ones offered here, though again the recorded sound is inferior and the Eighth suffers some several cracked notes in the brass section. My hope is that collectors will firs try this set, and then be as pleased with it as I am to try some of the Haenssler recordings and rediscover a superior but unjustly neglected conductor.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this one 5 Oct 2012
By Hank - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I have these recordings from other EMI releases. They are among my favorite Beethoven and Bruckner. They may not be the only versions you will own but they will be ones you will not part with.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overlooked, worth discovery 17 Dec 2012
By Prunehead Guru - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I completely agree that this is one of the most characterful Beethoven cycles out there. It is fully energized, without affectation. The "tang" of the French winds and horns is fantastic! The "Eroica" is one of the best documented I have heard, raw and powerful, quick, but not breathlessly so; the other reviewer has it right: somewhere between Toscanini and Furtwangler. This is not ponderous Beethoven. The mono sound is perfectly acceptable, and the acoustic of the venue comes through really well. The Bruckner, also is excellent. That had been my primary interest when buying this box, but my focus has shifted to the Beethoven. EDIT: I believe the Beethoven 9 on this set is in stereo! This is a major plus. There is too much spacial separation for this to be a mono recording. For years this was released as a mono recording with the rest of the cycle. At some point (apparently) Testament released a stereo version of it. This would appear to be that version. For collectors this is a major boon. Even if this set conatined the mono Beethoven and the stereo Bruckner, it would be a deal. Throw in a stereo Beethoven 9 and it is a HUGE bonus, especially with a 9th as good as this one!
5.0 out of 5 stars Schuricht's truly great performances of the Beethoven and 3 Bruckner symphonies are underrated classics 27 July 2013
By RebLem - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is one of the very best and most underappreciated Beethoven symphony cycles, with 1, 3, 4, 5, and 8 especially good. The 9th is a bit disappointing, mostly because of the male soloists, who were great singers, but seemed to be having a bad day. The three Bruckner symphony performances are awesomely impressive as well, especially the 8th.
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