Johannes Schüler. Haydn Symphony No. 100, Mozart Symphonies 36 & 39. VPO, Berlin Staatskapelle

Johannes Schüler (1894-1966) is not a name that you’re likely to come across with much frequency in recordings of orchestral repertory. His discography does show he was more active in the recording studios as an operatic conductor and accompanist for solo vocal recordings. A short biographical sketch may be read here, and one in German here. During one of my marathon 78 dubbing sessions at friend Mike Gartz’ home (thanks!), he recommended these recordings, which I had never heard of. As what must be among the rarer pre-1950 VPO recordings, I was already interested before sampling them.

Schüler’s readings of these 3 symphonies are vigorous, big performances, but with considerable nuance as well. I suppose there are some ponderous moments as well, with minuets more noted for solidity than lilt, but I think there are ample compensations elsewhere. Perhaps one should start with the Berlin Staatskapelle Mozart 39th, which features somewhat drier, but much more vivid sonics, and reveal the care over details that is partially obscured by the distant and rather diffuse sound captured by the engineers in the Großer Musikvereinsaal. In any case, the 39th is the most rewarding of these recordings, in my opinion. The last movement rollicks along with great aplomb, and I particularly like the way the opening theme is batted back and forth in the development section.

I should note, that despite my best efforts the side joins were difficult to conceal, reminding me of my status as a “weekend warrior” transfer artist! The way sides end with no common downbeat for overlapping and the dull sound at the end of sides were obstacles I couldn’t quite overcome. Nevertheless, these are rare recordings with much to recommend themselves, which have never been issued in a modern format.

Haydn: Symphony No. 100 in G Major, “Military”
Imperial 014054/56 (matr. K-C 0340/45)
Recorded June 12-17, 1942
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Mozart: Symphony No. 36 in C Major, K. 425, “Linz”
Imperial 014059/61 (matr. K-C 0334/39)
Recorded June 12-17, 1942
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Mozart: Symphony No. 39 in E Flat Major, K. 543
Imperial 014030/32 (matr. K-C 0280/85)
Berlin Staatskapelle Orchester

Johannes Schüler, Conductor

Short bio and list of recordings from From John L. Holmes, Conductors on Record.

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