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He's a machine. Yes, but a very good one! ;)

Seriously, I would answer definitely yes. His recordings of a lot of the core repertoire often represents some of the best recordings of those compositions. His precision does help. He also often adopts fairly fast tempi in an era when most of his contemporaries usually went in the opposite direction. I also don't find his recordings to be lacking emotion or pathos.

His Beethoven symphony cycle is one of my favorites, possibly my absolute favorite. His late Dvorak symphonies are, appropriately, legendary. His Dvorak Slavonic Dances are a romp. His late Tchaikovsky symphonies (4 & 5) are great, belying his reputation as emotionally cold. His Mahler 4 is legendary and is my favorite recording of that symphony.
I'm not qualified to judge Szell's Mahler 4 as I'm not a Mahler fan, but the fact that so many people cite that recording is testament to Szell's sheer professionalism because, like me, he didn't find Mahler's music congenial. There are other conductors whose best moments get through to me more than Szell's do, but I've come across few whose musicmaking was of such consistently high quality.
 

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For me the issue is not so much lack of warmth as much as it is lack of depth. I don't feel like Szell is saying anything beyond a simplistically literal conveyance of the score, which for me is often painfully dull, except in those cases where the music lends itself to mere virtuosity as entertainment value.

I listened to his Eroica a few days ago. The outer movements were thrilling in their dexterity. Indeed, a machine but a good machine. The Marcia funebre was well-paced and sensitively played by the orchestra, but it barely skimmed the surface. So many greater conductors have left touching accounts. Even Toscanini, who makes me feel like I am listening to La Traviata in this movement, is showing personal connection to the music and saying something.

Music, as all art, is inherently individual and subjective. I don't believe in objective regurgitation of the written score.

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Agree about Szell's "Eroica", not my favourite among his discography though I know some will disagree.

Your final paragraph however seems too sweeping to me. It is more than possible to "play as written" without it being a mere "regurgitation", as that Toscanini performance for one graphically illustrates.
 
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