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The Complete Aksel Schiøtz Recordings 1933-1946: Vol. 9
Emil REESEN (1887-1964)

Farinelli: Sangen har vinger, Den som har livets mildhed søgt, Livets glæder. Der er en sang (1)
Recorded November 25th 1941
Old sailors’ tunes arr. Niels CLEEMENSEN (1900-1950)

En sømand har sin enegang, Rosvald og Rosa (2)
Recorded March 17th 1943
Oscar RASBACH (1888-1975)

Trees (3)
Recorded June 26th 1941
Cole PORTER (1891-1964)

Night and Day (4)
Recorded September 2nd 1941 (4)
Carl L. SJØBERG (1861-1900)

Tonerna (5)
Mogens SCHRADER (1894-1934)

I de lyse nætter (6)
Emil REESEN (1887-1964)

Flag i storm (7)
Dan FOLKE (1906-1954)

Sangen om Hjemmet (8)
5-8 recorded June 26th 1941
Knudåge RIISAGER (1897-1974)

Danmarks Frihedssang (9)
Recorded May 11th 1945, Stockholm
Bernhard CHRISTENSEN (b. 1906)

De 24 timer (Jazz-oratorio): Geografi (10), Skolen på ho’ det (Jazz-oratorio): Møde i skolegården (11)
Recorded August 22nd 1934, January 23rd 1936
Kai Normann ANDERSEN (1900-1967)

Filmsstrimler (medley) (12)
Recorded January 16th 1933
Jacob GADE (1879-1963)

Lykkeland – Valse-serenade (13)
Carlo THOMSON (1898-1954)

Solens vuggesang – Serenade (14)
13-14 recorded September 9th 1938
Egon ANKERSTJERNE (1901-1981)

Mens jeg har dig endnu, lille mor (15)
Recorded May 30th 1938
Adapted from Franz DOELLE

Spil din egen zigeunersang – tango (16)
Adapted from Hand OTTEN

Som et eventyr fra gamle dage (17)
Adapted from Ludwig SCHNIDSEDER

O skønne Venezia (18)
16-18 recorded April 7th 1938
Aksel Schiøtz (tenor: 13-18 issued anonymously as "The Masked Tenor"), Orchestra/Emil Reesen (1), Christian Thomsen with instrumental ensemble (2), Aage Juhl Thomsen’s Orchestra (3-8), Sune Waldimar’s Orchestra (9), Three Rhythm Girls, Kjeld Nørregaard (piano) (10), Copenhagen Boys’ Choir/Mogens Wöldike, male trio, Grete Kordt (piano) (11), The Five Syncopes, Erik Tuxen and his Orchestra (12), Bobby Pagan at the Palladium Cinema Wurlitzer Organ (13-15), "Wives" Orchestra/Aksel Bendix (16-18)
Locations and dates (where known) as above
Original HMV recordings (except 12, a Polyphon recording) transferred at the Abbey Road Studios by Andrew Walter

Brief biographical notes on the great Danish tenor Aksel Schiøtz can be found in my review of Vol. 1.

The chronological survey of Danish song, begun with Vol. 5 and continued in Vols. 6 and 8, will conclude with Vol. 10, dedicated entirely to Carl Nielsen. Meanwhile Vol. 9 takes a detour through more ephemeral, though entertaining, material. First we have four extracts from an operetta by Reesen; the sort of agreeable but instantly forgettable operetta stuff that was produced by the yard in the 1930s and 1940s. Schiøtz is in creamy voice and knows the right style. Arne Helman’s notes, as useful as ever, point out that when the operetta was produced, in 1942 under the Nazi occupation, the Danes were good at decoding political messages and well understood that the final song in honour of the King of Spain and the dream of a land of peace and freedom was really about another king and another land entirely.

Only a few items require comment. "Night and Day" is well sung, if hardly in cabaret style. Schiøtz sang it, not as a bid to be recognised as an exponent of the American musical, but for the sheer hell of singing music that the Nazis considered to be "degenerate". Mogens Schrader’s I de lyse nætter sounded like drawing-room music in the piano version in Vol. 7. Here the glutinous orchestra just about puts the tin lid on it. "Denmark’s Freedom Song" was finally performed in Denmark itself on Liberation Day (an incomplete recording of this broadcast is preserved in Vol. 8). Before that Schiøtz recorded it in Sweden; it was smuggled out and played by "BBC sender til Danmark" (many times).

After these "official" light music recordings by Schiøtz we have documentation of his first visits to the recording studios. In 1933 he got a couple of solos in the medley "Film-cuttings" and can also be heard in the ensemble. The bandleader Erik Tuxen is that very same who became conductor of the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra and made some important Nielsen recordings. Then in 1934, with his name spelt wrong and described as a baritone, Schiøtz had a small part in Christensen’s Jazz-oratorio The 24 Hours and two years later was in the male trio (without a solo part) in the same composer’s The School Upside Down. The ubiquitous Mogens Wöldike has some fun here. Incidentally, among the Five Syncopes and the Three Rhythm Girls was Grete Kordt who had graduated to pianist by 1936 and who played for a number of Schiøtz’s later recordings.

In conclusion, following the practice of many of Schiøtz’s contemporary singers, including his Swedish colleague Jussi Björling, of recording light music under a pseudonym, we have six sides which he cut as "The Masked Tenor". He makes no attempt to mask his voice, so the unmasking must have come pretty quickly. Fun to hear once, particularly Ankerstjerne’s outrageous references to Dvořák’s “Songs my Mother Taught Me”.

This volume contains none of the recordings which will guarantee Schiøtz a place in history. If, like me, you have been following this series and have developed a fondness for Schiøtz, I think you will enjoy this glimpse of his lighter side and his first recordings. It is certainly a sobering reflection that, although the series says "Complete Recordings 1933-1946", the real solo recordings before an international public began in 1938, were limited to Denmark and mainly Danish music from 1940-1945, and began again in 1945 only to be truncated the following year by the operation which practically ended his career. Yet in just three years of international career Schiøtz came to be considered one of the greatest lieder singers, and his recorded legacy, though small, is enough to justify this reputation.

Christopher Howell

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