BRUCKNER: Symphonies Nos. 8 & 9 – Vienna Philharmonic/ Carl Schuricht – EMI Classics Signature Series (2 discs)

by | Jun 21, 2012 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

BRUCKNER: Symphonies Nos. 8 in C minor & 9 in D minor (both Ed. Nowak) – Vienna Philharmonic/ Carl Schuricht – EMI Classics Signature Series stereo-only SACDs 9 55984 2, Disc 1: 71:16, Disc 2: 56:24 [5/8/12] *****:
I hadn’t paid any attention to Schuricht’s Bruckner recordings until now, being rather set on Gunter Wand’s versions all the symphonies on standard CDs – just reissued, and I will review that soon. (That is unless you are willing to spend $602 just for Nos. 4, 5, 7, 8 & 9 on surround SACDs from Japan.) The recordings were taped in Vienna in 1963 and 1962 respectively, and though I have not compared them, judging by the other Signature remasterings, I’m sure the EMI engineers have improved  on the original vinyl releases of both symphonies with these 96K/24-bit digital remasterings.
The Eighth proceeds unerringly thru its over an hour and ten-minute length, with Schuricht putting an emphasis on the immensity of this monumental score. The tempi are varied slightly here and there but the inexorable onward thrust rhythmically is never lost. The individual sections of the Vienna Philharmonic come thru with great clarity in spite of the overall massive blocks of sound. I’m again impressed with how far ahead of his time Bruckner was with his minimalism – though his overall sound was certainly not minimal.
The Ninth is equally impressive, with Bruckner’s thundering chords repeated just short of driving you crazy. The rhythmic assaults from the crack brass section of the Philharmonic are perfectly played and timed. The Scherzo section second movement has great impact.  I don’t believe I ever appreciate so strongly how this unfinished final Bruckner symphony lacks a four movement. It really seems to hang in the air at the end of the long Adagio third movement.  There are of course lots of multichannel SACDs available of both symphonies.  I especially like the Ninth with Marek Janowski and the Suisse Romande Orchestra on a PentaTone SACD. The recording is definitely more spacious and preserving of the acoustics of Victoria Hall in Geneva than is the Vienna Philharmonic stereo SACD.  But Schuricht has a taut approach that will appeal to many, and like all the Signature Series remasterings, the sonics are enhanced.
—John Sunier

Related Reviews
Logo Jazz Detective Deep Digs Animated 01
Logo Pure Pleasure