Beethoven's 3rd symphony by Carl Schuricht and Orchestre National de France on 14 May, 1963.

By M. Pierre Lecerf

As I wrote you in my last message regarding the recording of the Beethoven third symphony conduced by Carl Schuricht with the ONF (Orchestre National de France) at the Theatre des Champs Elysées in Paris the 14 of May 1963, I would explain deeper my choice and I therefore keep my promises.

A magnificent Temoignage,
Not only does this record (compiled with the Beethoven first symphony and published by Disques Montaignes WM332; limitated edition and stupidly out of print) offer to us a perfect lecture of this symphony (musicaly speaking) but also shows how Carl Schuricht was able to build, develop and keep till the last barr a musical idea with an orchestra.

The Schuricht lecture:
Four movements, four tempi, four atmospheres but one unity. Unity of musical thoughts, unity of sound. The first beginning of the symphony and the last end are linked as if a magic line was lingering through the Time.

First movement: exposition that surprises: choc and let's go with energy: the name of the symphony is Eroica, and Schuricht has understood. The members of the orchestra are guided and we can feel with amazement how motivated and captivated they are. For once it is not a concert as usual , as if they were creating this masterpiece: for once it is not boring. Step by step the virus Energy gains in strenght among the whole orchestra, moments of real jumpings and let's go more to the end. Amazing I've said.

Second Movement: Marche Funèbre. Balance between a tragic resignation (about the future) and a respiration (looking back on the past ). Schuricht is not mannered, he goes on with intensity, some accents are prononciated with force (a bit like Sviatoslav Richter in the Beethoven piano sonatas: am I in the good direction? Am I right to search for what I don't know? Yes, I'm right, push on).

The scherzo is fast and the orchestral balance is clear.

The Finale: I have never heard so perfect Finale ! Brilliant, fast, electrical and musical. We tend to associate Beethoven with romantism but I think that it is a mistake, the musical construction stays classical ans Schuricht knows here that this work, despite the new Beethoven orchestra, is closer to Mozart than Schumann. To prove it the respiration passage (introduced by the winds) before the coda looks like the Contessa perdono (in the Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro): magical moment full of depth. The end is played without acceleration (dangerous in concert ?). Bravo.

In addition to the art of Carl Schuricht I appreciate here the style of the Orchestre National de France (it has changed since then…) which can be recognized without any doubt: the winds and the brass (exept very few accidents concerning the horns – accidents which are understandable for the one who knows what an orchestra is) are excellent. The French school provides us an other possibility of comprehension because the orchestral balance doesn't sound like the German way (it is the same with the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire – previous name of the Orchestre de Paris).

To end up with that, I would like to express my regrets when I read or listen that the only man who had understood the music and especially Beethoven was Furtwangler: I can't agree with that point of view. I think that music must not be played with mannerism or complication. A tempo has to be respected, a line must be keeped, simply, with heart and enthusiasm: Heart and enthusiasm : Carl Schuricht!

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