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The Great Danish Pianist: Victor Schiĝler - Volume 2
Peter Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Piano Concerto No.1 in B flat minor, op.23 (1874-5) [32:19]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Carnival, op.9 (1834) [27:30]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Three Intermezzi, op.117 (1892) [19:56]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Fantasia in C minor, K396 (1782) [7:19]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Sonata for violin and piano in A Major ‘Kreutzer’ op.47 (1803) [31:49]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Trio for violin, cello and piano in B flat major, op.99 [D.898] (1828) [33:04]
Impromptu in G major, op.90, no.3 [D.899] (1827) [5:45]
Victor Schiĝler (piano)
Emil Telmányi (violin: Beethoven)
Henry Holst (violin: Schubert), Erling Blondal Bengtsson (cello)
Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra/Erik Tuxen
rec. Tchaikovsky, Sept/Oct 1950; Schumann, 1956; Brahms, 1956; Mozart, 1955; Beethoven, 1942; Schubert, 1955 (Trio), 1957 (Impromptu)
DANACORD DACOCD781-2 [77:35 + 78:18]

Victor Schiĝler’s legacy continues to impress. His Tchaikovsky Concerto here was recorded in 1950 and intended to supplant the earlier late-1945 set made with the Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by ex-fiddler player Carl von Garaguly. The orchestra is retained but Erik Tuxen replaces Garaguly. The sound is good and the transfer has utilised the LP pressing with its lower ration of surface noise rather than the 78s. The contemporary work of joining sides proved less than easy for the Tono production team and though Danacord has done its best to mitigate this you will - listening closely – still hear a couple of awkward rhythmic jars that preserve inexact side-joins. No matter, as you’ll also hear the soloist’s luminous tonal responses, his technical armoury, sense of lyricism and drama alike. The cadenza is excellent, the interpretation not grandstanding but full of freshness and verve. The element of village folklore in the slow movement is brought out as warmly as I think I’ve heard it and there’s real brio in the finale. In short, this is a splendid traversal – personal, personable, affectionate, and virtuosic.

Schumann’s Carnaval is full of interesting narrative decision-making, animated and irradiated by Schiĝler’s truly musical instincts It’s a shame that the copy used to transfer has preserved some thumps in Reconnaisance and Pantalon et Colombine. I assume that they were not present on the master. The first disc ends with three pieces from Brahms’ Op.117 - the Intermezzi. These are highly persuasive examples of his art; sensitive and unostentatious.

After a thoughtfully voiced and sensitive Mozart Fantasia in C minor, there are two large-scale chamber assignments in the second disc. The Kreutzer Sonata is the earliest of the pieces to be recorded, dating from 1942. The pianist’s colleague is the Hungarian-born Emil Telmányi, Nielsen’s son-in-law. Danacord notes that there is an increase in noise toward the end of the first movement but this set was quite noisily recorded – Tonos, like English Deccas could be thistly. My own set of the 78s sounds similarly a bit rough. However, none of this detracts from the performance. Telmányi is the more sentimental player, his portamenti and expressive dalliances contrasting with Schiĝler’s more aristocratic precision. He has a fast trill, a vigorous deportment and an inbuilt rhythmic instability in places – and is notably keen on decellerandos. The violinist’s bright pellucid sound is heard at its best in the central movement and there’s sufficient buoyancy in the finale. This is an interesting and vivid example of music-making.

Listening, however, to the Schubert Trio in B flat major, recorded in 1955 where the pianist is joined by Henry Holst and cellist Erling Blöndal Bengtsson, makes one wonder what a Holst-Schiĝler Kreutzer would have sounded like. They would have made a more congruent stylistic partnership – though given that Holst was in England during the war the matter is academic. (As an aside, I hope the recordings Holst made with pianist Frank Merrick – amazingly they occupy almost the bulk of the surviving Holst discography excepting his Philharmonia Quartet sets – will be transferred one sunny day.) The Schubert is trim and purposeful, both Holst (experienced, refined, cool) and Bengtsson (young, at the start of his distinguished career) proving admirable partners. To end there is a delightful envoi in the shape of Schubert’s Impromptu in G major.

Danacord is to be congratulated for its dedication to this outstanding pianist’s valuable and important legacy. I hope more is forthcoming and that Claus Byrith will reprise his booklet notes.

Jonathan Woolf
Previous review: John France



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