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Forgotten Records

Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Piano Sonata No.2 in B flat minor Op.35 (1839) [23:15]
Piano Sonata No.3 in B minor Op.58 (1844) [24:39]
Victor Schiĝler (piano)
rec. October-December 1953

Experience Classicsonline

Forgotten Records is a French label that has been trawling the early LP catalogue to release material that has fallen through the cracks, hence its name. Its inventory is quite extensive, and tempting, and even a seemingly innocuous release such as this one has interest.
There are no notes so the curious may want to follow the three links on the jewel case. One is to the label’s own website, another is to, and the third is to this site, where you will find a review of a previous Schiĝler release, written by me.
Victor Schiĝler (1899-1967) was born in Copenhagen, the illegitimate son of the composer Victor Bendix. He made his debut in 1914, and left a decent number of discs for Tono – a sort of Danish equivalent of Decca – as well as Danish HMV and also RCA. He was a well rounded man, intellectually and culturally.
This disc was recorded for HMV (ALP1243; also French HMV FALP371) in 1953. One doesn’t especially associate him with Chopin, but he was a fluent and flexible performer and took on a sizeable repertoire, big and small. At the time, of course, one would have looked to such as Moiseiwitsch, Rubinstein, Cortot, Horowitz, Friedman, Malcuzynski and even Guiomar Novaes in Chopin – though not necessarily in the sonatas, as not all had recorded them. In this company Schiĝler makes a distinctive mark in his very individual way.
The Second Sonata is an interesting example of a performance that starts off poorly but gets better and better. His passagework in the Grave opening is rather disorganised; his rushing of bars leading to some very confused results indeed. It also fails to achieve its intended goal which is surely to generate excitement; in fact it achieves the opposite. He can still be a little stiff in the Scherzo, failing to connect the B section fully – it’s a bit too lateral – but things come alive in the Funeral march. This he plays with great and unaffected nobility, limpidity and control of dynamics. In the Presto finale he really shows a very unusual approach to phraseology, bringing out emphases and voicings that others avoid, or have never countenanced. These different stresses add a very personalised touch to the performance - clever, imaginative, and different.
The Third Sonata performance is perhaps less inspired in such detail, but more consistent and conventional as a performance. He shapes the opening movement so much better than he does the opening of the companion sonata. He’s quite reserved and lightly spun in the Largo – it has integrity, and once more, a degree of nobility, without at all becoming cloying. His finale is a real ‘galloping horse’ of an affair, once again unusually phrased and stressed, and full of high spirits. It’s enjoyable to hear playing of such individuality, even if it will not necessarily garner universal appeal.
He was certainly not a traditional Chopin player in respect of colour, rubato, and stress patterns. He brings to the sonatas personal insights, as well as some problematic aspects too. He was excellently recorded back in 1953, and the transfer is similarly faithful.
Jonathan Woolf



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