Carl Schuricht

Wagner: Opera Excerpts

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There was a time when great Wagner conductors were a common sight in Germany. There was Furtwängler, of course, and Knapperstbusch, naturally, and also Krauss and Klemperer and Kleiber and Walter and Böhm and a host of others. There was even Carl Schuricht, a conductor whose standard repertoire recordings were infrequently more than merely fair to middling, but whose Wagner recordings -- or at least these recording of Wagner excerpts with the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart -- were absolutely wonderful. Like his celebrated Bruckner recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic, Schuricht and the Stuttgart's Wagner recordings were essentially spiritual not dramatic in conception and execution. In their 1966 Prelude to Act I and Finale from Act III of Parsifal and their 1950 Prelude to Act I of Tristan, Schuricht and the Stuttgart are more concerned with creating billowing waves of radiant orchestral sound then they are with actually getting anyplace anytime soon. That, of course, is perfectly permissible in Wagner -- Knapperstbusch more or less made a career out of lingering over certain especially luminous passages -- and Schuricht is as willing as the next German conductor to loiter with intent to transmigrate. It's true that their 1950 excerpts from Götterdämmerung do lack drive which does diminish the impact of Siegfried's Rhine Journey, but it's also true that this nearly static quality only enhances the intensity of Siegfried's Funeral March as it moves slowly but unrelentingly from shadowed twilight to darkest night. Hänssler's re-mastering of the Südwest Radio's original mostly monaural recordings is consistently clean and clear if not always crisp and deep.

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