Beethoven Eroica etc Schuricht/Orfeo C

Review by: Jed Distler

Artistic Quality: 6

Sound Quality: 6

Carl Schuricht leads off this 1961 Salzburg concert with the Vienna Philharmonic in a bracing and even pugnacious performance of Gottfried Stölzel’s Concerto Grosso. True, the busy trumpets in the opening and closing Allegro are pushed to their limits while the scurrying flute part occasionally lags behind, but the collective orchestral spirit is certainly willing. While the Eroica is captured in a closer, brighter recording than Schuricht’s 1959 Paris Conservatoire studio version (to say nothing of the conductor’s wartime Berlin Philharmonic traversal), the overall orchestral balance is not so well proportioned, with winds and strings fighting for attention and loud brass virtually dominating the mix. In Salzburg Schuricht takes the first movement at a slower pace, with less dynamic impact and tuttis that don’t share the tonal focus and discipline of their French counterparts.

The Funeral March is blemished by the oboe soloist’s simpering vibrato, yet Schuricht’s sudden acceleration at the Fughetta’s outset leads into a shattering climax, with the Vienna horn section beaming at full tilt. Interestingly, Schuricht achieved the same results in Paris without speeding up. His fleet Scherzo (and to a lesser extent, the astringent Finale) recalls Toscanini’s fervent momentum and nervous energy. Go to the Paris recording, however, and you’ll hear how Schuricht obtains tighter chord playing in the introductory measures, heightened linear clarity, and more cohesive ensemble. If you desire a Vienna Philharmonic Eroica, it’s best to consider Schuricht as a supplemental footnote alongside Furtwängler, Monteux, Schmidt-Isserstedt, Bernstein, Solti, Kleiber senior, and Böhm.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Beethoven: Szell/Cleveland (Sony)

GOTTFRIED HEINRICH STÖLZEL - Concerto Grosso a Quattro Chori D-dur
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN - Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Op. 55 ("Eroica")


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