Those who attended the Berlin Philharmonic's October 8, 1964, concert with Carl Schuricht conducting a program of Schumann, Mozart, and Beethoven may have considered their time well spent. Those who listen to this 2006 reissue may conclude there might have been better ways to spend their time. It's not that the performances are bad -- although the Overture to Manfred that opens the concert is rhythmically feeble -- nor even that they are mostly mediocre -- although the "Prague" Symphony that concludes the first half is quite dull -- but that something essential seems to have gone out of Schuricht. Of course, the 84-year-old was no longer the energetic and direct conductor he had been -- older listeners still rightfully praise his EMI recordings of Bruckner's Third, Eighth, and Ninth symphonies -- but while mature wisdom can cover some flaws -- a deeper insight or a larger vision can often compensate for smudged detail and a no longer clean downbeat -- that isn't the case here. The "Eroica" Symphony that fills the second half of the concert is big, blunt, and brutal with very close to coarse playing from the Berlin Philharmonic. But, worse than that, Schuricht's "Eroica" is less heroic than merely another ride on an old war horse. The opening Allegro con brio lacks fire; the Marcia funebre lacks depth; the Scherzo lacks drive; the closing Variations lack a firm sense of direction; and by failing to hold together as single work, the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Older listeners who enjoyed Schuricht's Bruckner recordings may be tempted by this two-disc set. How they feel about the performances here is for them to decide. Testament's release of Radio Brandenburg Berlin's original tapes is clean enough for the time, but too distant and with some occasionally obtrusive audience noise.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
Track Listing - Disc 1
|Manfred, overture & incidental music, Op. 115|
|Symphony No. 38 in D major ("Prague"), K. 504|
Track Listing - Disc 2
|Symphony No. 3 in E flat major ("Eroica"), Op. 55|