Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

THE COMPLETE AKSEL SCHIØTZ RECORDINGS: 1933-1946
Vol. I: Oratorio and Mozart Arias - 1940-1945
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)

Messiah: Comfort ye, Every valley
Orchestra of Det Unge Tonekunstnerselskab/Mogens Wöldike, 26.03.1940
Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (c.1637-1707)

Was mich auf dieser Welt betrübt

Else Marie Braun, Julius Koppel (violins), Alberto Medici (cello), Mogens Wöldike (harpsichord), 20.03.1940
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Christmas Oratorio: Frohe Hirten, eilt, ach eilet
Johan Bentzon (flute), Alberto Medici (cello), Mogens Wöldike (harpsichord), 20.03.1940
St. Matthew Passion: O Schmerz - Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachen
Mogens Steen Adreassen (oboe), Orchestra and Chorus/Mogens Wöldike, 22.04.1942
John DOWLAND (1563-1626)

Shall I sue, Now cease, my wand’ring eyes, Flow, my tears

Jytte Gorki Schmidt (guitar), 17.10.1941
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Die Zauberflöte: Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön, Così fan tutte: Un’aura amorosa (25.02.1942), Don Giovanni: Dalla sua pace, Il mio tesoro intanto (27.02.1942), Die Entführung aus dem Serail: Hier soll ich dich denn sehen, Konstanze, Imm Mohrenland gefangen war (31.08.1943)
Royal Orchestra, Copenhagen/Egisto Tango
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)

The Creation: Mit Würd’ und Hoheit angetan
Orchestra/Mogens Wöldike, no date
Piotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)

Eugene Onegin: Lenski’s aria (in Danish)
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)

Faust: Salut demeure (in Danish)
Royal Orchestra, Copenhagen/Johan Hye-Knudsen, 25.10.1944
HANDEL

Acis and Galatea: Love sounds the alarm, Solomon: Sacred raptures cheer my breast
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Stockholm/Mogens Wöldike, from a rehearsal at the Musikaliska Akademien, Stockholm, 25.09.1945, previously unpublished
Aksel Schiøtz (tenor), orchestras etc. as shown
Dates as shown, the only location named is that of the rehearsal extract
DANACORD DACOCD 451 [75:18]

 



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The first volume in Danacord’s set of ten devoted to the art of Aksel Schiøtz and organised by Gerd, his widow, is devoted mainly to oratorio and opera. Born in 1906 he studied modern languages at University and gave his first solo song recital (he was for many years a member of the Copenhagen Male Choir) aged thirty in 1936. His first recordings with his mentor Mogens Wöldike followed soon after and this disc collates those made between 1940 and 1945, the year before the tumour operation that ended his career as a tenor. After 1948 he reappeared as a baritone and devoted himself to extensive teaching.

His nearest Anglophone equivalent I suppose is Heddle Nash. Schiøtz had a lyric tenor with a good top, depth at the lower end of the range, stylistically pure and apt, conscious of performance practice. He lacked the Englishman’s floated head voice and spinto minstrelsy but possessed a stronger weight in the lower voice that gave him a splendidly rounded compass. Indeed he challenges Nash on his own turf in the first items from Messiah and acquits himself with real distinction. One would never know that English is not his first language unless one listened very closely to some minutely unidiomatic vowel sounds but his style is supple and forward-looking with Wöldike lending lithe and flexible support. In Comfort ye he sings pardoned in two, not the three vowels beloved of English tenors. Wöldike’s harpsichordist is an active presence in Ev’ry Valley and there are excellent string emphases; he’s deeper in timbre than Nash’s lighter tenor, his runs excellent. No one for me can touch Walter Widdop in these moments but Schiøtz matches almost anyone else for beauty of tone and incisive musicality. The Buxtehude is a ravishing performance; it has style and simplicity of utterance, a sense of laced delicacy (note the string players accompanying, members of the Koppel Quartet); the voice itself is wonderfully well equalized - oddly indeed at some moments it does take on a baritonal extension prefiguring the tragic calamity of his brain cancer. In the aria from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio one can perhaps feel Schiøtz push the voice, particularly in upward extensions, and he doesn’t sound altogether free in voice production (though this was a session mate of the Buxtehude and recorded at the same time).

But the Matthew Passion aria with Morgens Steen Adreassen’s delightful oboe has great reservoirs of depth and profundity and the choir, which sounds small, is expertly drilled. The Dowland songs are accompanied by Jytte Gorki Schmidt’s guitar and are in the elite category as performances. They have an affecting freshness and modernity, despite the guitar, and feature sovereign breath control, dynamic shading and colouristic beauty. In Flow, my teares it is more than instructive to hear the phrase Down, vain lights sung with such lucid and incremental hardening of tone. His Mozart arias are imperishable reminders of his artistry. Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön is most beautifully phrased, with artless elegance and Dalla sua pace is characterised with effortless skill – contour, dynamics, the depth and exquisite control of the lower register – and his Il mio tesoro intanto has more of his splendid runs and tremendous breath control. My only disappointment was Un’aura amorosa, which sounds rushed. Whilst his tone darkens nicely he can’t match Nash in idiomatic ease here or in sheer vocal plangency. He has real style and a sense of projection in Lensky’s aria from Eugene Onegin (in Danish) and his Haydn is full of purity and, once more, stylistic acumen.

The disc is rounded out with a ten-minute rehearsal segment of two Handel arias - Love sounds the alarm from Acis and Galatea and Sacred raptures cheer my breast from Solomon. These post-date by five years his earlier published Handel from Messiah and here in 1945 the style is a little heavier – but the former has eloquent runs far superior to the hit and miss latter. These were with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Stockholm, which may account for the heavier and more earthbound weight, less like Wöldike’s more forward looking effect which is itself rather reminiscent of Boyd Neel’s similarly fluent conducting.

The disc comes with texts and archive material – letters from the singer and reminiscences of Wöldike and Schiøtz’s comments on Messiah and Dowland. I hope I’ve conveyed something at least of Schiøtz’s eloquent musicality; he was without question one of the very greatest singers of his time and this series pays its own powerfully eloquent homage to him, not least in Andrew Walter’s magnificent transfers.

Jonathan Woolf

See also review by Christopher Howell

 



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