C0026. GASTON POULET Cond. London S.O.: Albéniz, Granados, de Falla & Turina; WILHELM SCHÜCHTER Cond. Philharmonia Orch.: Turina & Granados. (Austria) Dutton CDEA 5502, recorded 12 Nov., 1953. Transfers by Michael J. Dutton. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 763587550220
“Gaston Poulet was a French violinist and conductor. He played an important part in the diffusion of the contemporary music of the first half of the 20th century. His son Gérard Poulet, born in 1938, is also a violinist. Born in Paris, Poulet entered the Conservatoire de Paris in 1904, studying under Lefort and Jean Huré, and winning a first prize in 1910 in violin.
Noticed by Pierre Monteux, Poulet soon became recognized as one of the leading violinists of his generation and was taken on as leader of the orchester for performances by the Ballets Russes. He thus took part in many premieres by the company of Serge Diaghilev.
In 1914 he founded an eponymous string quartet with Henri Giraud, Albert Leguillard & Louis Ruyssen. Their repertoire extended to contemporary works such as the quartet by Claude Debussy. Poulet was then offered the creation of the violin sonata by Debussy, on 5 May 1917 at the salle Gaveau in Paris, accompanied by the composer. This concert, in aid of the Foyer du soldat aveugle, Poulet also played the Symphonie espagnole by Édouard Lalo.
From the 1920s, Poulet slowly reduced his playing in favour of conducting. In 1926 he led the first performance at the salle Pleyel of the Concerts Poulet (later merged with the Concerts Robert Siohan). This orchestral series particularly featured music by young composers, and included premieres of works by Sergei Prokofiev, Florent Schmitt, Albert Roussel, André Caplet and members of groupe des Six. The weekly concerts were held at the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt up to 1932.
In 1932, Poulet became Director of the Conservatoire in Bordeaux and founded a concert series there entitled the Association des Professeurs du Conservatoire, in 1943 becoming l'Orchestre philharmonique de Bordeaux. Poulet also appeared outside France during these years, in Geneva and Buenos Aires. During the war years he also led the Concerts Colonne (for that period called Concerts Pierné) alongside Louis Fourestier and François Ruhlmann.
In 1944 he left the Conservatoire de Bordeaux to become a professor of chamber music at the Conservatoire de Paris, remaining there until 1962. He began the Festival de musique de Besançon in 1948 which attracted international attention, complemented from 1951 by a conducting competition.”
"Wilhelm Schüchter was one of those prodigiously talented German conductors who had the misfortune to live in a time filled with geniuses at the podium: Furtwängler, Walter, Abendroth, von Karajan, Krauss, Böhm, Knappertsbusch, Kempe, Schmidt-Isserstedt and Klemperer. In such company, he never had a chance to move into the forefront of his profession outside of Germany. Despite his lack of international success, however, Schï¿½chter managed to leave behind one major recording of LOHENGRIN that deserves to be a part of any serious Wagner collection.
Schüchter studied with Hermann Abendroth. He made his debut at the podium in Coburg in 1937, conducting CAVELLERIA RUSTICANA and PAGLIACCI. His first major appointment came that same year, as conductor in the opera house in Wurzburg, where he stayed for three years. In 1940, he took an appointed conductor at the opera house in Aachen, a post he held for two years, working under Herbert von Karajan. Two years later, he joined the Berlin State Opera.
Following the Allied victory and the reorganization of German cultural life, in 1947 Schüchter joined the North German Radio Orchestra as a conductor and deputy to Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt. His major recording career began soon after, principally for EMI during the late 78 rpm and early LP era.
His major activities and his most significant legacy, however, were in the operatic field. In 1953, Schüchter conducted EMI's first recording of a complete version of Wagner's LOHENGRIN with his North German Radio Orchestra and Rudolf Schock in the title role, Gottlob Frick as King Henry, Maud Cunitz as Elsa, and Josef Metternich as Friedrich. This performance remains one of the most finely crafted recordings of the opera ever laid down and is competitive with all subsequent stereo and digital recordings. The singing has a warmth and power that resounds more than 40 years later and the playing is extraordinary, a match for any orchestra in the world. Moreover, the sound -- despite being limited to mono -- is extraordinary for its era, being both rich and close.
Unfortunately, Schüchter never got to record another complete opera, eclipsed as he was outside of Germany by figures such as Karajan and Klemperer. His career in the concert hall was more successful; in 1958, he took a three-year appointment as the chief conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo, and after his return to Germany in 1962, he was made music director of Dortmund. It was in this post, in just three years, that Schüchter achieved fame in Germany, raising the musical standards in Dortmund so high that he was promoted in 1965 to artistic director and general manager of the Dortmund State Opera. He remained in this position for the rest of his life and was acclaimed for the excellence of the productions mounted by the company and its overall rise to prominence within Germany. His Wagnerian performances in particular were singled out for praise by critics.
Schüchter was among the first generation of conductors in Germany who understood the use of the orchestra in the studio and this is reflected in his recordings. In contrast to Wilhelm Furtwängler or Hans Knappertsbusch, he saw the intrinsic value of recording and he paid special attention to the spaciousness and opulence of the sound he achieved. When working with sympathetic producers and engineers, as on his LOHENGRIN, the results were extraordinary."
- Bruce Eder, allmusic.com