Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Gems of the recorded legacy

Carl Schuricht: Mozart Piano Concerto K. 595 & Brahms Symphony no. 2

Carl Schuricht was working nearly until the end of his long life, in spite of various infirmities. In the excellent liner notes to this Audite Historic Performances disc there's a story from Seiji Ozawa about seeing Schuricht conduct in Japan:
"When he appeared on stage, it took him nearly five minutes to reach his podium. During that time, the audience applauded, their hands becoming quite hot by the end."
Perhaps to compensate, he became known for his swift tempi. Certainly his Brahms Second Symphony here, recorded with the Vienna Symphony at a concert in Lucerne in 1962, is anything but stuffy; neither is it plush and sentimental. Briskness is not what one notices, but rather the freedom with which Schuricht manipulates this music; it's the kind of swinging, playfully passionate re-creation that's rare in classical music. I don't know when I've ever been more impressed with the first movement of this piece, which Brahms called "the sunny symphony of a heavily melancholy person." As to the Mozart, Schuricht actually slows things down, perhaps slower than might have been heard by other conductors of the time, and much, much slower than we're likely to hear today. There's no feeling of dawdling, though, but just an opening up of Mozart's gorgeous music to let us hear - and feel - every phrase, and the exquisite piano playing of Robert Casadesus. These two pieces are gems of the recorded legacy, expertly remastered by the Audite engineers, and beautifully presented.

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