Hanssler Classic CD 93.155 72:24 (Distrib. Allegro) ****:
More fascinating reissues from the baton of Carl Schuricht (1880-1966), the perennial European guest-conductor par excellence, here taped 1954-1961 in the Romantic repertory for which he had special gifts. Schumann’s darkly frenetic Manfred Overture from December 1960 wastes little time in moving from brooding melancholy to a more sanguine aggression. The rich singing line extends to a mesmerizing, colorful rendition of Mendelssohn’s Meeresstille und glueckliche Fahrt in D, Op. 27 (10 March 1961) – alternately visionary and triumphant, strings, trumpets, piccolo, and tympani in full regalia. The pre-Wagnerian ethos of the work, with its mighty influence on The Flying Dutchman is made abundantly clear. Schuricht’s rendition makes us wish we had a Reformation Symphony to audition, and that Decca would reissue his concert overtures LP to CD format. Schumann’s 1841 Overture, Scherzo and Finale (21 September 1954) under Schuricht reminds us how closely its ethos is connected to Weber’s Oberon and Mendelssohn’s own fairy-like Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture. Nice oboe work in the Overture; the Scherzo in 6/8 communicates delicacy and galloping lyricism. Flute and oboe contribute to a bucolic trio. Schuricht urges the contrapuntal Finale along, negotiating its syncopations and hearty chorale with suave panache.
The two remaining Mendelssohn offerings date a year apart; the Hebrides Overture from 4 January 1955 and the Midsummer Night’s Dream excerpts from 26 January 1954. Collectors know about the inscription of The Hebrides from Lugano (27 April 1961) with the Radio della Svizzera Italiana on Ermitage (ERM 144). The present Stuttgart performance is slightly broader without sacrificing tension for undue sweetness. Rife with air spirits and pomp, the Hebrides becomes a contrapuntal whirlwind before it’s over. Schuricht plays the Mendelssohn Overture and Incidental Music from Shakespeare for its ingenuous wit and deft colors. The articulation of string pizzicati and tremolandi is carefully molded, the textural shifts from strings to low winds to horns modulated with flair, a transparent tour de force. The Nocturne proceeds seamlessly, the horns again pre-dating the Wagner sound, the basses‚ punctuations erotically suggestive. Woodwinds rule for the Scherzo, the strings in sparkling and shimmering complement to the virtuosity in the flute, bassoon, and oboes. The episode trips and glides so effortlessly that the last note cries out for Schuricht to play on.