The first recording I ever bought of Beethoven Symphonies was the Decca Eclipse LP of the 1st and 2nd played by the Vienna Philharmonic under Carl Schuricht. I knew nothing about him except that the reviews all said that they were fine performances, so I bought them. I have never regretted that decision in nearly forty five years and when the Icon box set was released, I knew I had to have it.
The orchestra on this set is the Paris Conservatoire and although not the Vienna Phil they give Schuricht everything he wanted and the set has always been highly prized.
Listening again to these taut, brisk but very musical performances I can only wish that they were all in stereo (all but the 9th Symphony are in mono), the strange thing is that at the same time a French conductor Cluytens was making a set with the Berlin Philharmonic. I often wonder why Schuricht was not given this orchestra to work with because then something really special may have been created. Cluytens' set is very good but he doesn't get the textural detail out of the orchestra that Schuricht does and if the wind playing of the Paris band is quirky to say the least it lends a slight period air to the proceedings. Listening to the French horn solos I could swear that they were played on a cornet such is the difference in sound this orchestra then made to the German competition.
The 3 Bruckner recordings are a must have for any Brucknererian. They stem from the early 60s and all three are in stereo. The Vienna Philharmonic is on fire and the playing and detail superb. The 9th Symphony is left in its perfect, unfinished state. What could follow the incredible Adagio? Certainly no 'completion' I've heard. Happily, no musicological mediocrity in the land of Bruckner genius, here.
Schuricht is a much overlooked conductor today probably because his recorded legacy is mainly in mono and he didn't court fame and fortune, however the joy of exploration is worth every note.
Wilma Lipp, soprano
Marga Hőffgan, contralto
Murray Dickle, tenor
Gottlob Frick, baritone
Elisabeth Brasseur Choir
L'Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire/Carl Schuricht
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Carl Schuricht
EMI/Warner Icon 623379-2 8CDs Stereo/Mono